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Associated Press Corrects Claim That James Brown Led Raid On Harpers Ferry

The Associated Press had to issue a correction last month after a story suggested that legendary 20th Century musician James Brown, and not fiery abolitionist John Brown, led a raid on Harpers Ferry just before the Civil War.

“This story has been corrected to show that John Brown, not James Brown, led the raid on Harpers Ferry,” the AP wrote in a correction Oct. 21. The AP did not immediately return The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

The news story was about park rangers investigating the death of an 18-year-old hiker in 2017, but the final paragraph referenced the historical significance of the site as the location where John Brown led a group of armed slaves to take over an arsenal located in the town of Harpers Ferry, the Virginia side of the Potomac river, in October 1859.

The corrected AP story says that “Harpers Ferry is where abolitionist John Brown seized a federal armory in 1859 before being captured and hanged.” As one of the most virulent abolitionists, John Brown believed that a violent rebellion was the only way for the U.S. to rid itself of the institution of slavery. After he was hanged, his story became a popular Union Army marching song set to Julia Ward Howe’s famous tune “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

James Brown, who was born in 1933 and died in 2006, was one of the most prolific and influential musicians in the 20th century. Known as the godfather of soul, Brown made it to the top of the Billboard R&B charts 16 times with singles like “I Got You (I Feel Good),” “Try Me,” and “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World.”

Harpers Ferry is surrounded by parks and mountain ranges that are popular destinations for hikers and backpackers. Rangers determined that the teenage hiker, later identified as Maximilian Von Arx from Rockford, Ill., had attempted to leap from one rock to another on the Maryland cliffs above the water, and he fell to his death Oct. 20, just days after the 158th anniversary of John Brown’s raid.

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