The Tragic Prelude


Hanging in a corner of the Kansas state Capitol building in Topeka is John Steuart Curry’s mural “The Tragic Prelude.” A wild-eyed, bearded John Brown, arms out-stretched, clutches a Sharps rifle in one hand and the Bible in another. On either side of him, armed men advance toward each other. One side carries the Union flag, and the other, the Confederate flag.