Hazelwood, one of this County’s most unusual plantation houses, during his courtship of Violetta. The couple went to live at Northampton, Osborn Sprigg’s 1000-acre plantation in central Prince George’s County; they had two children: Sallie, born in 1812 and Osborn born in 1813.
In the years 1812-1814, during hostilities with England, Samuel Sprigg was commissioned as an officer in John Carlyle Herbert’s Bladensburg Troop of Horse. Herbert had married a daughter of Thomas Snowden of Montpelier, and lived at Walnut Grange, now the office of operations at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center. [J. C. Herbert served in the House of Delegates 1808,-09,-10, 1812-13; was elected to U. S. House of Representatives in 1814, and served 1815-19.] Herbert’s troops were part of the Maryland cavalry which engaged the British at the infamous Battle of Bladensburg in August 1814; it is virtually certain that Samuel Sprigg was present during this battle. According to military records he was later appointed second Lieutenant, but declined the Commission.
After the British defeated the American troops at Bladensburg, 24 August 1814, they proceeded into Washington where they burned many of the public buildings. A very severe summer storm on the 25th saved the buildings from total destruction, and encouraged the British to withdraw from the Federal City. As they returned [through Bladensburg] to their ships on the Patuxent, they followed the old Bladensburg-Marlborough Road which passed just west of Northampton. Family tradition indicates that some of the British soldiers stopped at Northampton where they helped themselves to provisions, but, out of respect for the young lady of the house and her baby daughter (Violetta and Sallie Sprigg), did no damage to the plantation.
Osborn Sprigg (the uncle) died in May 1815, devising his Northampton plantation to his nephew, Samuel. In his will, Osborn Sprigg freed many of his slaves, and charged his nephew and heir to be be kind and friendly to the servants who had been freed by his will, and “to continue to treat those old and infirm servants in the same humane manner which heretofore they [had] been accustomed to.” It is interesting to note that during the next several years, Samuel Sprigg freed five more members of the slave force which had come to him from his uncle’s estate. He did, however, continue to maintain a large slave force for the rest of his life.
During this period of his life, Samuel Sprigg became more active in Prince George’s County affairs. In addition to trying cases before the County Court, he was elected and served (1817-1828) as one of the Directors of the Planters’ Bank which had its office in the venerable brick building later known as the Marlborough House in Upper Marlborough. In 1818 he was one of the charter members of the Philomanthian Society, established in Marlboro for the pursuit of literature and science. He was a member of the Vestry of St. Barnabas’ Church in the Queen Anne Parish, and was a frequent delegate to Diocesan Conventions. But on the eve of his selection as Governor of the State, he was still a political unknown.
The political campaign of 1819 was one of the closest and most exciting contests ever held in Maryland up to that time. The Federalist party which had been in power, was suffering some unpopularity after the successful conclusion of the war which it had opposed. Political hostilities were high in the October legislative election of 1819, and resulted in the serious