Samuel Sprigg left the governor’s office in December 1822. The Maryland Republican which had enthusiastically supported his administration, reported that “few persons have administered the executive department more entirely to the satisfaction of the people”.
[Barely out of office, Samuel Sprigg headed the subscription for the benefit of St. John’s and Washington Colleges with a donation of $1000. Again he received praise from the Maryland Republican, which called his example “honorable and liberal . . . its author will not be forgotten whilst learning, science and patriotism have friends in Maryland”.]
In June of 1824, Charles Willson Peale came to Northampton to paint the portrait of the former governor Samuel Sprigg. This interesting interlude is described in Peale’s autobiography, and I will save the details for a moment, for it is a copy of this very portrait which you see before you now. By far the most momentous event of 1824 was the visit to the United States of the Marquis de Lafayette, and Samuel Sprigg was much involved in this.
Lafayette, who as a young French soldier had fought on the side of the American Revolutionary army against the British, and was considered a hero by the American public, was invited by President James Monroe to visit the United States. He arrived in August 1824, and for an entire year was given a triumphant tour of the United States from the Atlantic coast to the Mississippi River and back again. Everywhere Lafayette visited, committees were formed to arrange his tours and entertainment. After his arrival in New York, he proceeded south through Philadelphia and Baltimore on his way to Washington. When he crossed into Prince George’s County, he was met by the first Bladensburg troop of cavalry, now commanded by Captain Samuel Sprigg, and escorted to the Rossborough Inn where he spent the night of 11 October. The next morning, as Lafayette and his entourage proceeded towards Washington, he was again escorted by Sprigg’s cavalry, and the National Intelligencer (the newspaper published in Washington) reported the following:
“The cavalry troop was commanded by Samuel Sprigg, Esq, who, two years ago, ended a full term of service in the capacity of Governor of the State of Maryland. Returned to private life, a wealthy planter, in the midst of all that can render life easy and pleasant, he is proud of resuming his character of a citizen and becoming a member of a troop of horse, in which he enrolls himself with his neighbors, who choose him their commander. In that capacity, he has had the pleasure of receiving General Lafayette at the boundary of the County, and escorting him through it”.
Lafayette’s secretary, Auguste Levasseur, wrote a similar account of Sprigg’s participation in the visit of Lafayette: “Captain Sprigg was at the head of his beautiful volunteer cavalry, ready to escort general Lafayette to Washington. Captain Sprigg was not long since Governor of Maryland, which office he discharged for several years in a manner that conciliated universal esteem and regard. In relinquishing his public office to return to private life, he did not think he had discharged all his duties towards his country. He organized, almost entirely at his own expense, a company of volunteer cavalry, and forgetting his previous elevation, did not think it beneath his dignity as ex-governor to assume the modest uniform of a captain. One cannot avoid feeling a sentiment of profound respect on beholding this patriotic