East New Market

Historic Sketches

The Underground Railroad

by William Still 1872

From "The Underground Railroad, A Record of Facts, Authentic Narrative, Letters &C, Narrating the Hardships, Hairbreadth Escapes and Death Struggles of the Slaves in their efforts of Freedom, as related by themselves and others, or witnessed by the author; together with sketches of some of the largest stockholders, and most liberal aiders and advisors of the road.  By William Still - 1872.

The first passage is from the book and is about Samuel Green Jr., the son. 

The second passage is from the book and is about Reverend Samuel Green, the father.

Below the two passages is text from Journal C, which was not published in book form.  It contains information about Samuel Green Jr. and names his family members.


The Son



The passenger answering to the above name, left Indian Creek, [Dor]Chester Co., Md, where he had been held to service or labor, by Dr. James Muse.  One week had elapsed from the time he set out until his arrival in Philadelphia.  Although he had never enjoyed school privileges of any kind, yet he was not devoid of intelligence.  He had profited by his daily experience as a slave, and withal, had managed to learn to read and write a little, despite law and usage to the contrary.  Sam was about twenty-five years of age and by trade, a blacksmith.  Before running away, his general character for sobriety, industry, and religion, had evidently been considered good, but in coveting his freedom and running away to obtain it, he had sunk far below the utmost limit of forgiveness or mercy in the estimation of the slave-holders of Indian Creek.

During his intercourse with the Vigilance Committee, while rejoicing over his triumphant flight, he gave, with no appearance of excitement, but calmly, and in a common-sense like manner, a brief description of his master, which was entered on the record book substantially as follows: "Dr. James Muse is thought by the servants to be the worst man in Maryland, inflicting whipping and all manner of cruelties upon the servants."

While Sam gave reasons for this sweeping charge, which left no room for doubt, on the part of the Committee, of his sincerity and good judgment, it was not deemed necessary to make a note of more of the doctor's character than seemed actually needed, in order to show why "Sam" had taken passage on the Underground Rail Road.  For several years, "Sam" was hired out by the doctor at blacksmithing; in this situation, daily wearing the yoke of unrequited labor, through the kindness of Harriet Tubman (sometimes called "Moses"), the light of the Underground Rail Road and Canada suddenly illuminated his mind. It was new to him, but he was quite too intelligent and liberty-loving, not to heed the valuable information which this sister of humanity imparted.  Thenceforth he was in love with Canada, and likewise a decided admirer of the U. R. Road.  Harriet was herself, a shrewd and fearless agent, and well understood the entire route from that part of the country to Canada.  The spring previous, she had paid a visit to the very neighborhood in which "Sam" lived, expressly to lead her own brothers out of "Egypt."  She succeeded. To "Sam" this was cheering and glorious news, and he made up his mind, that before a great while, Indian Creek should have one less slave and that Canada should have one more citizen.  Faithfully did he watch an opportunity to carry out his resolution. In due time a good Providence opened the way, and to "Sam's" satisfaction he reached Philadelphia, having encountered no peculiar difficulties.  The Committee, perceiving that he was smart, active, and promising, encouraged his undertaking, and having given him friendly advice, aided him in the usual manner.  Letters of introduction were given him, and he was duly forwarded on his way.  He had left his father, mother, and one sister behind.  Samuel and Catharine were the names of his parents.  Thus far, his escape would seem not to affect his parents, nor was it apparent that there was any other cause why the owner should revenge himself upon them.


The Father

The father was an old local preacher in the Methodist Church-much esteemed as an inoffensive, industrious man; earning his bread by the sweat of his brow, and contriving to move along in the narrow road allotted colored people bond or free, without exciting a spirit of ill will in the pro-slavery power of his community. But the rancor awakened in the breast of slave-holders in consequence of the high-handed step the son had taken, brought the father under suspicion and hate.  Under the circumstances, the eye of Slavery could do nothing more than watch for an occasion to pounce upon him.  It was not long before the desired opportunity presented itself.  Moved by parental affection, the old man concluded to pay a visit to his boy, to see how he was faring in a distant land, and among strangers.  This resolution he quietly carried into effect.  He found his son in Canada, doing well; industrious; a man of sobriety, and following his father's footsteps religiously.  That the old man's heart was delighted with what his eyes saw and his ears heard in Canada, none can doubt.  But in the simplicity of his imagination, he never dreamed that this visit was to be made the means of his destruction.  During the best portion of his days he had faithfully worn the badge of Slavery, had afterwards purchased his freedom, and thus become a free man.  He innocently conceived the idea that he was doing no harm in availing himself not only of his God-given rights, but of the rights that he had also purchased by the hard toil of his own hands.  But the enemy was lurking in ambush for him-thirsting for his blood.  To his utter consternation, not long after his return from his visit to his son "a party of gentlemen from the New Market district, went at night to Green's house and made search, whereupon was found a copy of Uncle Tom's Cabin, etc." This was enough-the hour had come, wherein to wreak vengeance upon poor Green. The course pursued and the result, may be seen in the following statement taken from the Cambridge (Md.), "Democrat," of April 29th, 1857, and communicated by the writer to the "Provincial Freeman."


The case of the State against Sam Green (free negro) indicted for having in his possession, papers, pamphlets and pictorial representations, having a tendency to create discontent, etc., among the people of color in the State, was tried before the court on Friday last.

This was of the utmost importance, and has created in the public mind a great deal of interest-it being the first case of the kind ever having occurred in our country.  It appeared, in evidence, that this Green has a son in Canada, to whom Green made a visit last summer.  Since his return to this county, suspicion has fastened upon him, as giving aid and assisting slaves who have since absconded and reached Canada, and several weeks ago, a party of gentlemen from New Market district, went at night, to Green's house and made search, whereupon was found a volume of "Uncle Tom's Cabin," a map of Canada, several schedules of routes to the North, and a letter from his son in Canada, detailing the pleasant trip he had, the number of friends he met with on the way, with plenty to eat, drink, etc., and concludes with a request to his father, that he shall tell certain other slaves, naming them, to come on, which slaves, it is well known, did leave shortly afterwards, and have reached Canada. The case was argued with great ability, the counsel on both sides displaying a great deal of ingenuity, learning and eloquence. The first indictment was for the having in possession the letter, map and route schedules.

Notwithstanding the mass of evidence given, to show the prisoner's guilt, in unlawfully having in his possession these documents, and the nine-tenths of the community in which he lived, believed that he had a hand in the running away of slaves, it was the opinion of the court, that the law under which he was indicted, was not applicable to the case, and that he must, accordingly, render a verdict of not guilty.

He was immediately arraigned upon another indictment, for having in possession "Uncle Tom's Cabin," and tried; in this case the court has not yet rendered a verdict, but holds it under curia till after the Somerset county court. It is to be hoped, the court will find the evidence in this case sufficient to bring it within the scope of the law under which the prisoner is indicted (that of 1842, chap. 272), and that the prisoner may meet his due reward-be that what it may.

That there is something required to be done by our Legislators, for the protection of slave property, is evident from the variety of constructions put upon the statute in this case, and we trust, that at the next meeting of the Legislature there will be such amendments, as to make the law on this subject, perfectly clear and comprehensible to the understanding of every one.

In the language of the assistant counsel for the State, "Slavery must be protected or it must be abolished."

From the same sheet, of May 20th, the terrible doom of Samuel Green, is announced in the following words:

In the case of the State against Sam Green, (free negro) who was tried at the April term of the Circuit Court of this county, for having in his possession abolition pamphlets, among which was "Uncle Tom's Cabin," has been found guilty by the court, and sentenced to the penitentiary for the term of ten years-until the 14th of May, 1867.

The son, a refugee in Canada, hearing the distressing news of his father's sad fate in the hands of the relentless "gentlemen," often wrote to know if there was any prospect of his deliverance.  The subjoined letter is a fair sample of his correspondence:

SALFORD, 22, 1857.

Dear Sir I take my pen in hand to Request a faver of you if you can by any means without duin In Jestus to your self or your Bisness to grant it as I Bleve you to be a man that would Sympathize in such a ones Condition as my self I Reseved a letter that Stats to me that my Fater has ben Betraed in the act of helping sum frend to Canada and the law has Convicted and Sentanced him to the Stats prison for 10 yeares his White Frands ofered 2 thousen Dollers to Redem him but they would not short three thousen. I am in Canada and it is a Dificult thing to get a letter to any of my Frands in Maryland so as to get propper information abot it-if you can by any means get any intelligence from Baltimore City abot this Event Plese do so and Rit word and all so all the informmation that you think propper as Regards the Evant and the best mathod to Redeme him and so Plese Rite soon as you can You will oblige your sir Frand and Drect your letter to Salford P. office C. W. SAMUEL GREEN

In this dark hour the friends of the Slave could do but little more than sympathize with this heart-stricken son and grey-headed father. The aged follower of the Rejected and Crucified had like Him to bear the "reproach of many," and make his bed with the wicked in the Penitentiary.  Doubtless there were a few friends in his neighborhood who sympathized with him, but they were powerless to aid the old man.  But thanks to a kind Providence, the great deliverance brought about during the Rebellion by which so many captives were freed, also unlocked Samuel Green's prison-doors and he was allowed to go free.

After his liberation from the Penitentiary, we had from his own lips narrations of his years of suffering-of the bitter cup, that he was compelled to drink, and of his being sustained by the Almighty Arm-but no notes were taken at the time, consequently we have nothing more to add concerning him, save quite a faithful likeness.


Journal C of Station No. 2, William Still, 1853-54, part 4

Aug 28 / 54 (1854)                       (page) 99   

Arrived - Wesley Kinnard, old name, Sam'l Green - left Indian Creek, Dorchester Co. about a week ago.  He belonged to Dr. James Muse, who, is thought to be, by the servant, "the worst man in Md., whipping, and all manner of cruelty he would inflict upon his servants.  James [sic Samuel] had been hired out at Blacksmithing, for several yrs. - Was induced to leave by receiving instructions from Harriett Tubman who had paid a visit to his neighborhood last Spring, after her Bros.

Age 24 yrs. Black, rather below the medium size, smart, active, reads & writes, and seems quite intelligent.  Left Father & Mother, Sam'l & Catherine, one sister Sarah.

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