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“Hiving the Bees”: A Civil War Commission Lecture February 18

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“Hiving the Bees”: A Civil War Commission Lecture February 18

Friday, February 13, 2015

Shortly before his raid on Harper’s Ferry arsenal, abolitionist John Brown is said to have made a personal plea to ex-slave Frederick Douglass to join him, saying “When I strike, the bees will begin to swarm, and I shall want you to hive them.”  Douglass refused, writing later that his “discretion or his cowardice” determined his decision.

The close relationship between Douglass and Brown, with their differing strategies to end slavery, will be the focus of the next Civil War Commission Lecture, presented by Ithaca College professor Hugh Egan entitled “Hiving the Bees:  Frederick Douglass and John Brown,” Wednesday, February 18 at 6 p.m. in the Borg Warner Room of the Tompkins County Public Library, 101 E. Green Street, Ithaca.  The lecture is cosponsored by the Tompkins County Civil War Sesquicentennial Commemoration Commission and the Tompkins County Public Library.

Mr. Egan, a professor of English with a concentration in 19th century American poetry and prose, will explore the complex relationship between Douglass and Brown, their strategies for ending slavery, and the balance between political action and inspiring oratory.

Egan’s talk is free and open to the public and is being presented as part of a five-year partnership between the Civil War Commission and the Library to provide opportunities for community conversation and increased awareness about the Civil War.  The lectures are made possible through a grant from the Gannett Foundation.

For more information about the lceture or other upcoming activities of the County Civil War Commission, contact Commission co-chair Carol Kammen, Tompkins County Historian, at