Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

Abraham Brogden (b. circa 1821 - d. ?)
MSA SC 5496-003367
Accomplice to slave flight, Anne Arundel County, Maryland, 1848

Biography:

Abraham "Abram" Brogden, a free black laborer, was descended from a well respected, free black family that had lived in Anne Arundel County for decades. His grandfather, likely named Abraham, was born near the head of South River. Brogden worked on the Anne Arundel County farm of Mr. James Curly of Baltimore City. Brogden was still working at Curly's farm in 1840, while living in Baltimore. He resided in Ward 10 (as seen in an 1836 map).1 Although the street is not currently known, he lived in the northern part of Ward 10, which later became Ward 12 (as seen in an 1866 map).2 In 1840, the census recorded him as "Abram Brigton," in the twenty-four to thirty-five age group. He had one other person listed in his household, a free black woman in the same age group.3

On Thursday, December 21, 1848, Brogden helped his enslaved wife, twenty-four-year-old Cinderella, in fleeing from her Anne Arundel County owner, George F. Worthington. Worthington's farm stood near Brotherton, a postal village about ten miles northwest of Annapolis, near the Severn River.4 Thomas D. Marriott, a friend of the Brogden family, wrote that Cinderella "was about to be sold (under execution) for her masters debts, when Brogden ran off with her," a clear motivation for the escape.5 According to Marriott, Cinderella would have been sold outside of Maryland. Worthington's overseer, Edward H. Brown, immediately suspected Abraham, and placed a runaway advertisement in the Baltimore Sun the following Saturday, December 23rd. The advertisement stated that "She has a husband living in Baltimore by the name of Abram Brogden, who is supposed to have taken her away from home."6 Brown set the maximum reward for Cinderella's return at 100 dollars, and noted that she took a variety of clothes with her when she fled. She was apprehended and admitted to the Baltimore jail on December 22nd just one day after she had fled, and a day before her runaway advertisement appeared in the newspaper. While she was held in jail, the Baltimore Sun ran the advertisement, and eight days later Cinderella was given back to her owner, Worthington, by the order of H.R. Robbins of the Baltimore jail.7

Brogden's trial was held during the April 1849 term of the Anne Arundel County Court. After being returned to Worthington's custody, Cinderella was sold out of state. Despite the sympathy Brogden was met with in Annapolis, he was found guilty on April 19, 1849 of enticing away his wife, and he was sentenced to serve four years in the Maryland penitentiary. A penitentiary employee, Isaac M. Denson, wrote of the compassion for Brogden: "The Officer from Anne Arundel who delivered [Brogden] into [the penitentiary] said that many persons in attendance at the court thought he ought not to have been sent [to the penitentiary], and that there was a strong talk in Annapolis at that time, of interceding with the late Governor for his pardon."8

Brogden gained more support throughout the duration of his imprisonment. Maryland Governor Enoch Louis Lowe had received petitions with over 115 signatures by the time Brogden had served half of his given sentence. Thomas D. Marriott remained one of Brogden's staunchest allies, along with Barzillai Marriott. In a letter  to Governor Lowe dated March 20, 1851, Marriott wrote, "Few can be found who do not look upon his attempt to save his wife from a sale to some far distant parts as an offense not deserving of the full penalty of the law." In addition to testifying to Brogden's good nature, as well as that of Brogden's father, Abraham, and Brogden's grandfather, the Marriotts wrote in a May 20 letter, "It should be borne in mind, that she was about to be sold, when Brogden ran off with her...The crime was in endeavoring to set his wife, at liberty! Not that instigated by fanaticism, but one produced by feelings entirely different from those by which fanatics and political abolitionists are amazed."9 Numerous others also testified to Brogden's excellent character, including the penitentiary employee Denson, Brogden's former employer James Curly, and many citizens of Annapolis. The majority of Brogden's backers argued that the two years he had spent in the penitentiary were a just penalty, "and nothing further can be apprehended from him."10

Governor Enoch Louis Lowe granted Abraham Brogden a pardon on May 23, 1851, by the recommendations Robert J. Brent, William M. Addison, Henry May, William H. Hope, James Toner, J.C. Marriott, J. Wesley Watkins, Thomas D. Marriott, Jonah W. Marriott, Philip Mutt Jr., E.G. Starr, & other respectable citizens of this state.11 Abraham Brogden was released from the Maryland penitentiary on May 24, 1851.12 Unfortunately, Brogden's wife had died during his imprisonment.
 


1.     U.S. CENSUS BUREAU (Census Record, MD), Abram Brigton, 1840, Baltimore City, Ward 10, Page 3, Line 4 [MSA SM61-100, SCM 4714].

2.     Fielding Lucas, Jr., Plan of the City of Baltimore, 1836, MSA SC 5339-7-372.

3.     Baltimore City. Simon J. Martenet, Martenet's Atlas of Maryland, 1865, Huntingfield Collection, MSA SC 1339-1-75.
3.   U.S. CENSUS BUREAU (Census Record, MD), 1850, Baltimore City, Wards 12-14 [MSA SM61-127, SCM 1489].

4.     "One Hundred Dollars Reward." Baltimore Sun 23 December 1848.
1.     R.S. Fisher. Gazetteer of the State of Maryland (Baltimore, MD: James S. Waters, 1852) 58.
1.     Anne Arundel County District 2, Simon J. Martenet, Map of Anne Arundel County, 1860, Library of Congress, MSA SC 1213-1-117.

5.     SECRETARY OF STATE (Pardon Papers) Abraham Brogden, 1851, Box 48, Folder 28, MSA S1031-10, MdHR 5401-48.

6.     "One Hundred Dollars Reward." Baltimore Sun 23 December 1848.

7.     BALTIMORE CITY AND COUNTY JAIL (Runaway Docket) Cinderella Brogden, #1268, MSA C 2064-2, MdHR 6798.

8.     SECRETARY OF STATE (Pardon Papers) Abraham Brogden, 1851, Box 48, Folder 28, MSA S1031-10, MdHR 5401-48.

9.     Ibid.

10.   Ibid.

11.   SECRETARY OF STATE (Pardon Record) Abraham Brogden, 1851 May 23, f. 121, MdHR 7931, MSA S 1108-2.

12.   MARYLAND PENITENTIARY (Prisoners Record) MSA S275, Abraham Brogden, #4241, MSA S 275-2, MdHR 5656.
 
 

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