East New Market


15 October 1859

From William Holland, William E. Harrison, John H. Hodson, John Pattison, Richard H. Dixon, Isaac H. Wright, John T. Houston and William T. Vickers to his Excellency, T. Watkins Ligon, Governor of Maryland

(Collection of Maryland State Archives, MdHR 6636-246; 1-7-5-39)

East Newmarket Dorchester Co.

To His Excellency, T. Watkins Ligon, Governor of Maryland

We the undersigned beg Leave very Respectfully to represent to your Excellency that a certain Free Negro who was convicted in the Circuit Court for Dorchester County held in the town of Cambridge about April 1857 for aiding and abetting slaves to escape from their masters, and for having in his possession certain abolition handbills, pamphlets and other documents, and papers of a like character, also certain letters from negroes in Canada, who had escaped from his immediate neighborhood, inviting certain other negroes by name to follow on as the way was all clear, and he found plenty of friends and money on the way, and where he stopped and how long he remained at several points on his passage.  There were also found in his possession several schedules of railroad road travel, through the northern States.  We further represent that said negro - Samuel Green by name had a fair and impartial trial.  His Honour Judge Spence assigning him two as able counsel as belonged to the bar.  It was in evidence before the Court that those negroes written to from Canada did abscond from their masters some time after the reception of this letter, it was further proved on the trial of said negro that he the said Samuel Green did during the Autumn of 1856 visit Canada himself secretly, and return to this State not more than one or two persons knowing when and where he went and when he returned, and those two counseling him to keep the matter private.

In view of all these facts, we are no little surprised to find circulating in this community a petition to your Excellency for Executive Clemency towards the said negro, now confined in the Maryland Penitentiary for the term of ten years, one fact we failed to mention it was in evidence before the court, and of the most respectable kind, that nine tenths of the community in which he lived believed he was guilty of the matters whereof he stood charged, so unanimous was the sentiment against him that his counsel could not for a moment entertain the idea of trying him by a jury, but elected to, and did try him before the court.  The petition before alluded to asks your Excellency to pardon unconditionally said negro convict, and restore him to his family and friends.  We should look on his restoration to this neighborhood as the greatest evil that could befall it for the reason that up to the time of his arrest in April last our negroes were leaving us in numbers from 2 to 15 or 18 from the time of his arrest up to the 10 of the present month, there has scarcely any negroes ran away at all and in no case has the writer of this known to 2 run of together until as before remarked on the 10 of the present month 5 have left Cambridge.  I suppose they have opened another channel.  The Petition to your Excellency above alluded to was presented to the writer of this communication last evening 24 names being annexed all very well known to the writer, 4 of them above are slaveholders to a very small extent 3 or 4 farmers, some house carpenters, a few merchants, school teachers, floaters and quite a respectable number of [the signers] are ladies some of which are not even residents of the county or state but merely Sojourners.

Sir our object in this communication is merely to inform you such a paper as we have described will in all probability be received by your Excellency.  We do not think it worth while at present to get up a counter petition for the reason we do think a memorial of such material as the one described must necessarily be composed of, cannot have any considerable weight with your Excellency at least.  We very respectfully represent that we are slave holders and tillers of the soil and situated in the immediate vicinity where said negro resided  before his arrest and conviction and should consider our slaves in still greater jeopardy were he turned loose among us.  In conclusion we very respectfully ask your Excellency, should a memorial of sufficient respectability be presented to you for the pardon of Samuel Green as to raise in your mind a question of the propriety of such as course of proceedings, that before consenting you will cause the undersigned to be so informed and give sufficient time to provide a counter petition.

We are very truly and respectfully

October 15th, 1859

Willliam Holland
William E. Harrison
John Hodson
John Pattison
Richard H. Dixon
Isaac H. Wright
John T. Houston
William T. Vickers


Gov. Ligon Dr Sir

Domestic affliction has caused the delay of this communication, or it would have reached you sooner.

November 18th 1857 William Holland