Black History: Special Delivery!!
Osborne P. Anderson (1830-1872) was one of the five African American men who accompanied John Brown in his raid of Harper’s Ferry in 1859. Seventeen men in total accompanied John Brown. Anderson was a free born abolitionist from Pennsylvania. He attended Oberlin College in Ohio. After college he moved to Chatham Canada. There he worked as a printer for the Provincial Freeman Newspaper. The paper was started by Mary Ann Shadd. She was the first African American female newspaper editor in North America. The paper was an antislavery and temperance publication.
Anderson met John Brown in 1858. In 1859, Brown, determined to bring an end to slavery, launched a plan to attack the U.S. military arsenal in Harper’s Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia). The raid was was part of a larger plot by Brown to establish an independent group fortification of freed slaves in the mountains of Virginia and Maryland that would fight to end slavery. Brown was apprehended during the raid. Brown and his men were overtaken and captured by U.S. Marines. Anderson and five other men escaped without capture. Brown was eventually convicted of treason and executed. The raid skyrocketed tensions between whites and enslaved blacks before the Civil War.
With the assistance of Mary Ann Shadd, Anderson published, A Voice From Harper’s Ferry in 1861, detailing his experience. This was the only published work regarding the raid on Harper’s Ferry authored by one someone who joined Brown in the raid.
Anderson joined the Union Army in 1864. He served as a recruitment officer in Indiana and Arkansas. He died in 1872 at the age of 42 in Washington DC from tuberculosis.