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WHEREAS, John Brown was born into a deeply religious family which abhorred slavery, and he described himself as an "abolitionist" while working with other groups; and
WHEREAS, John Brown believed that he could free slaves and selected Harpers Ferry, West Virginia as his starting point to get 100,000 weapons from the Federal Arsenal; and
WHEREAS, John Brown and twenty of his "Raiders," including two of his sons, overtook the engine house in Harpers Ferry on October 16, 1859, but were subsequently surrounded by General Robert E. Lee's forces; Brown was captured and convicted of indicting slaves to rebel, treason and murder and was sentenced to death by hanging and the engine house was recaptured by General Lee; and
WHEREAS, many people believe John Brown's actions were a major factor in starting the Civil War; and
WHEREAS, the "Fort" was purchased and relocated on a farm two miles from its original site remaining there until 1891, when it was transported to Chicago for the World's Columbian Exposition; in 1895, it was returned to the nearby Murphy Farm in Harpers Ferry; and
WHEREAS, in 1906, Dr. W.E.B. Dubois initiated a "call" to meet at Storer College in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia to pay tribute to the John Brown Raiders and to convene the Second Niagara Movement Conference, later calling the meeting "one of the greatest meetings that American Negroes ever held;" the participants walked barefooted to the "Fort;" and
WHEREAS, the Colored Women's League held its annual meeting in 1896 and visited the "Fort" in Harpers Ferry to pay tribute to Brown; in 1918, the National Association of Teachers in Colored Schools held its annual session and visited the "Fort" in Harpers Ferry and other organizations also visited; and
WHEREAS, for these reasons, the Murphy Farm holds a "sacred" place in West Virginia's, National Black history and Civil War history; and
WHEREAS, the Murphy Farm is also important in Civil War history because of its role in the 1962 siege of Harpers Ferry; and
WHEREAS, the Murphy Farm is in imminent danger of being developed for housing, and such development would forever destroy the Murphy Farm's scenic beauty and rob future generations of the opportunity to see, appreciate and enjoy this rich legacy of the John Brown/Niagara Movement and its connection to the Civil War; and
WHEREAS, other nearby parcels of land are similarly threatened; and
WHEREAS, we believe we have a duty to civil rights history to preserve the Murphy Farm and the landscape surrounding Harpers Ferry; and
WHEREAS, the designation of the larger landscape surrounding Harpers Ferry is a "Last Chance Landscape" by scenic America; one of America's Top Ten Endangered Battlefields by the Civil War Preservation Trust, validates the importance of this landscape to American history and imparts a sense of urgency to the preservation cause; and
WHEREAS, the NAACP is interested in preserving this history and has met with the Harpers Ferry Conservancy and other organizations who share their interest regarding the Murphy Farm and surrounding landscape's importance to civil rights history; and
WHEREAS, the Harpers Ferry Conservancy has nominated the Harpers Ferry Landscape for the National Trust for Historic Preservation's list of eleven most endangered resources and voices their unqualified support for the nomination.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the NAACP support the nomination of Murphy Farm and landscape surrounding Harpers Ferry to the National Trust for Historic Preservation's list of eleven most endangered historical resources; and
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP urge Congress to appropriate sufficient funding to acquire the Murphy Farm and other lands making up the cultural landscape surrounding Harpers Ferry and pass legislation allowing such lands to be administered as part of the U.S. Department of Interior's Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, West Virginia; and
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP urge the State of West Virginia to ensure rigorous scrutiny for all state approval necessary for the development of the Murphy Farm; and
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the NAACP supports the process and application of Murphy Farm and landscape surrounding Harpers Ferry to the National Register of Historic Places to further preserve and ensure its historical significance.