A unique man, Thoreau proclaimed in admiration, Brown was highly moral and humane. Independent, "under the auspices of John Brown and nobody else," and direct of speech, Brown instilled fear, which he attributed to a lack of cause, into large groups of men who supported slavery. Incomparable to man, Thoreau likens Brown's execution -- he states that he regards Brown as dead before his actual death -- to Christ's crucifixion at the hands of Pontius Pilate with whom he compares the American government.
Thoreau vents at the scores of Americans who have voiced their displeasure and scorn for John Brown. The same people, Thoreau says, can't relate to Brown because of their concrete stances and "dead" existences; they are truly not living, only a handful of men have lived. Thoreau also criticizes contemporary Christians, who say their prayers and then go to sleep aware of injustice but doing nothing to change it. Similarly, Thoreau states those who believe Brown threw his life away and died as a fool, are fools. Brown gave his life for justice, not for material gains, and was completely sane, perhaps more so than any other human being. Rebutting the arguments based on the small number of rebels, Thoreau responds "when were the good and the brave ever in a majority?" Thoreau also points out the irony of The Liberator, a newspaper, labeling Brown's actions as misguided.
While many agree that Brown fought bravely and independently for justice, something his government failed to provide. Instead the politicians killed liberators and enslaved four million, others deplore the brutality of many of his methods in Kansas, though some feel the ends justified the means.