Definition of John Brown from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary

John Brown

(1800–59) an American abolitionist (= a person who campaigns against slavery). On 16 October 1859 he led a group of his supporters to occupy a building containing military weapons in Harpers Ferry, Virginia. He was captured, put on trial and hanged. During the American Civil War, northern soldiers sang a song called John Brown’s Body to the tune of The Battle Hymn of the Republic. It is still sung in the US and contains the lines:John Brown’s body lies a-mouldering in the grave,But his soul goes marching on.