Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Hanging In 1821

From The Marylander and Herald Princess Anne MD November 1921

The following item is from the Somerset Union of November 1st, 1821, which was published in Princess Anne at one time by the late Col. Levin L. Waters.

On Friday, the 19th of October, at Princess Anne, Somerset County, Maryland, Jenny, a Negro woman, nearly 70 years of age, suffered the punishment prescribed by law for a murder committed some months ago since on the body of another Negro, Sidney Williams.  Jenny was brought from the jail under the escort of a company of militia and arrived at the gallows at about half past 11 o’clock, where an impressive discourse was delivered by the Rev. Mr. Colgan, and a hymn sung suitable to the occasion after which prayer was offered up and the clergyman addressing the prisoner, exhorting her, through to no avail, to make a confession of her guilt before she was launched into eternity.

About 700 whites and double that number of colored persons were present as spectators.  Many of them were sensibly affected by the remarks of the clergyman, and a few remained unmoved by the wild grief of Jenny’s children, several of whom were present.  Their sorrow seemed contagious.  When the awful moment arrived in which the sheriff proceeded to the execution of his duty, numbers fled from the spot, and several hundred of the colored people squatted on the ground with their backs turned toward the gallows, covered their faces with their hands and uttered a simultaneous groan, which while it expressed their feelings added not a little to the horror of the scene.  When the body had been suspended for fifteen minutes it was cut down; immediately after which many of the blacks retired to their homes in good order, but the sensibility of others was so short lived that they spent the afternoon in drunkenness and other kind of debauchery.

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