From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

John Brown Hanged with Kentucky Rope

The rope used to hang abolitionist John Brown (1800-1859) came from Kentucky. Prior to his hanging, rope samples were submitted by South Carolina, Missouri, and Kentucky. The ropes were put on exhibit for the public to view. The ropes from South Carolina and Missouri were not used because it was thought that they were not strong enough, so the rope from Kentucky was selected.

John Brown was hanged in Charles Town, VA, on December 2, 1859. In an article in the Charleston Gazette, 7/14/1929, it was stated that the rope used to hang John Brown was in the Kentucky Archives, but there is no evidence of that being true today.

Two pieces of the rope are said to be on display at the Warren Rifles Confederate Museum [photo of rope], located in Fort Royal, VA; the rope pieces were donated by the Richmond United Daughters of the Confederacy. The rope pieces are artifacts from a Virginia regiment that was present the day of the hanging. The original rope is also said to be in the State Museum Section of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, in Charleston, WV; the rope was part of the collection purchased from Boyd B. Stutler, who was a collector of John Brown items.

The Massachusetts Historical Society, in Boston, MA, also has a rope with a noose that supposedly was used to hang John Brown. The rope was given to the organization by William Roscoe Thayer, president of the American Historical Association in 1918.

For more see The Public Life of Capt. John Brown, by J. Redpath; Progress of a Race, Or, the Remarkable Advancement of the American Negro, by H. F. Kletzing and W. H. Crogman; "Brown rope is given Stutler on birthday," Charleston Gazette, 7/14/1929; and artifacts and library holdings relating to John Brown at the Massachusetts Historical Society.

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Cite This NKAA Entry:

“John Brown Hanged with Kentucky Rope,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed April 14, 2024,

Last modified: 2022-12-02 19:45:13