The Star-Democrat from Easton, Maryland on September 2, 2007 · Page 8
Get access to this page with a Free Trial

A Publisher Extra Newspaper

The Star-Democrat from Easton, Maryland · Page 8

Easton, Maryland
Issue Date:
Sunday, September 2, 2007
Page 8
Start Free Trial

By SARAH PEARCE Staff Writer BishopAlexander Wayman, a prominent historical figure of the African MethodistEpiscopal Church, was born in Caroline County in 1821 and grew up on a farm there. Wayman, who was born free, learned to read from the Bible by the light of a fire, according to informa- tioncompiledby researcher Patricia Guida. When he was 14, he beganworkingfor Benjamin Kerby of Talbot County, according to an article published by Gale Group. Kerby’s children taught Wayman as much as they knew. Afterreturningto Caroline County for several years, Wayman moved to Philadelphia to become a preacher, according to the Gale Group article. There, he joined the AME Church. In 1847, he was ordained an elder in the church. He previously had served as a deacon for two years. The following year, he became a pastor in the Baltimore Conference. According to another article Guida retrieved from the Gale Group, “Wayman began his epis- copal duties in the East, but as soon as hostilities ceased he moved into the South to survey the situation. He made a second tour in 1867 and subsequently organized the Virginia, Georgia, and Florida Conferences. In 1872, he became bishop of the Midwestern conferences an (sic) California (where the African Methodist Episcopal Church had formed it (sic) first congregation during the Gold Rush days).” Accordingtothe Choptank River Heritage Center Web site, Wayman knew Frederick Douglass. “Wayman probably did not meet Douglass until both had achieved notoriety in the North and worked for the abolition of slavery and education of free blacks,” according to the Choptank Center Web site. “Wayman considered Douglass a friend as well as a colleague in the cause ofAfrican-American rights.” Wayman published two books, My Recollections of African M.E. Ministers or Forty Years’ Experience in the African Methodist Episcopal Church and Cyclopedia of African Methodism . Waymandiedin December 1895 at age 74. According to a New York Times article published the week after his death, “He wrote several books and got the degree of D.D., but his main influence was in his untiring energy, his unfailing good humor, and his wonderful control over a negro congregation. He was one of the most powerful exhorters the race ever knew, and he could start a revival in short order. His theology dealt plentifully in brimstone.” The February before his death, he read a eulogy at Frederick Douglass’ funeral, according to another New York Times article. “Bishop Wayman, in his eulogy, merely named the great men from a number of States of the Union, and ended with the remark: ‘And last, but not least, Maryland has her Frederick Douglass.’” In Wayman’s obituary, the Times wrote, “He had the respect of all classes, and many Marylanders place his work ahead of that of Douglass because it was work among the negroes, constantly striving for their improvement and uplifting.” By GAIL DEAN Staff Writer CAMBRIDGE — In the decades before the Civil War, Maryland was home to the largest population of free blacks in what was then the United States. Two hundred years after Maryland legalized slavery of Africans in 1660, the 1860 Census shows that more than half of the African Americans living in Dorchester County were free. Slaves in Dorchester found their freedom through either manumission — the practice of slave owners freeing slaves, often in their wills, or by purchasing their freedom. But freed blacks were not completely free in Maryland in the 19th century. Their civil rights were limited by a variety of laws which were sometimes used to punish free black men and women for efforts, real or imagined, to help enslaved people escape to freedom. One of the best examples of a free black who was persecuted for his actions is the Rev. Samuel Green of East New Market, who was sentenced to serve 10 years in prison for possessing a copy of Uncle Tom’s Cabin following his trial in Dorchester County Circuit Court in the spring of 1857 — exactly 150 years ago. Samuel Green was born a slave in East New Market in 1802 and spent the first 30 years of his life as a slave, working on his owner’s farm and developing skills as a blacksmith. He eventually used his blacksmith skill to earn the money he would use to buy his freedom and purchase the freedom of his wife, Katherine. A provision in the will of his owner, who died in 1831, allowed Green to buy his freedom. He and his wife stayed in the area of East New Market, a town previously known as Crossroads because a number of well-traveled routes intersected here. Research has yet to reveal where the family lived but records do show that Green was among the group of African-American trustees deeded land in the 1830s where Mt. Zion United Methodist Church was built in 1880. Mt. Zion Methodist Church still stands in the Depot area of East New Market. The congregation of Mt. Zion will pay tribute to the Rev. Samuel Green during their annual heritage day celebration, set for Oct. 6 this year. Green had learned to read while he was still a slave. He also developed a deep faith which led to his becoming a Methodist minister. But for all that he accomplished, Green was unable to succeed in what mattered most to him and his wife, purchasing the freedom of their children, Samuel Green Jr. and Susan. With help from Harriet Tubman, Samuel Green Jr. was able to escape from slavery in 1854. At the age of 25, he made a new life for himself in Canada. The Greens’ daughter, Susan, was not as fortunate. Although she was married and the mother of two young children, Green’s daughter was sold and shipped to Missouri. She was never seen or heard from by her family again. In 1856, Green decided to visit his son and his family at their new home in Canada. Shortly after Green returned from this journey to Canada, he was arrested at his home in East New Market April 4, 1857, for “knowingly having in his possession a certain abolition pamphlet called, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, of an inflammatory character and calculated to create discontent amongst the colored population of this state” and a second charge of “knowingly having in his possession certain abolitionist papers and pictorial representation of an inflammatory character calculated to create discontent...” The second charge was related to items seized from Green’s home including a map showing routes to Canada, a railroad schedule and a letter from his son which provided details of Green’s recent visit and asks his father to tell other slaves, listed by name, “to come on” to Canada. Although some of those listed in the letter had fled Dorchester for Canada, Green was acquitted of the second charge concerning his son’s letter. But May 14, 1857, he was convicted of the first charge, possession of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s anti-slavery bestseller, a crime which came with a minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years. Possession of Uncle Tom’s Cabin qualified as a violation of the Act of 1841, Chapter 272 in Maryland law, “... if any free Negroes or mulatto knowingly have in his or her possession any abolition handbill, pamphlet, newspaper, pictorial representation or other paper of an inflammatory character, having a tendency to create discontent amongst or stir up to insurrection the people of color in this state, he or she shall be deemed guilty of felony, and upon conviction, shall be sentenced to undergo a confinement in the penitentiary of this state for a period of not less than 10 nor more than 20 years.” Green served nearly five years of that sentence at the Maryland State Penitentiary in Baltimore. Then-Gov. Thomas Holliday Hicks ignored the letters, most from white Methodists, asking that Green be pardoned. Among the points often made in these letters was the fact that Green was in jail for possessing a book owned by many Dorchester residents, possibly even the judge who had convicted him. The governor also received a number of letters from slave- holders alarmed by the increasing number of slaves fleeing north to freedom following Green’s conviction. It wasn’t until after Augustus Bradford was sworn in as governor of Maryland in 1862, following the start of the Civil War, that Green received a pardon. It came with the condition that he leave the state of Maryland within 60 days and never return. After nearly five years in prison, Green probably had little problem with leaving Maryland. Shortly after his pardon and release from prison in April 1862, Green and his wife emigrated to Canada and a new life with their son and his family. Rev. Green led early fight for rights of free blacks A PROUD LEGACY SEPTEMBER 2, 2007 8 RELIGION RELIGION Wayman a key leader for early AME church

What members have found on this page

Get access to

  • The largest online newspaper archive
  • 20,900+ newspapers from the 1700s–2000s
  • Millions of additional pages added every month

Publisher Extra Newspapers

  • Exclusive licensed content from premium publishers like the The Star-Democrat
  • Archives through last month
  • Continually updated

Try it free