Part man, part legend, all abolitionist, John Brown is a real-life historical figure on a god-driven crusade to free the land of slavery by any means necessary. Blinded by his own fanaticism and sanctimonious, yet irreverent, vision, Brown and his motley family of soldiers lead a raid on the US Armory at Harpers Ferry, a tragic prelude to the Civil War which ultimately put him on the right side of history.
A gifted writer, a brilliant orator, an admirable public figure: Frederick Douglass is most of all a shrewd political strategist. And when longtime confidant John Brown takes refuge with Onion at the Rochester, NY home of the “King of the Negroes” and his two wives, a clash over methodology leads him to not-so-politely decline an invitation to join the violent raid on Harpers Ferry.
Henry Shackleford, a free (not “freed”) slave living in the Kansas territory in 1856, has a fateful run-in with abolitionist John Brown – who mistakes him for a girl, “frees” him and welcomes him into his ragtag army with the nickname Onion. Quickly awakening to the promise of a better life, Onion dons a dress and hides his identity in plain sight; serving as witness, aide, confidant and solider for John Brown.