Samuel Green Jr. (b. 1829 - d. 1875 )
MSA SC 5496-51332
Fled from slavery, Dorchester County, 1854
Samuel Green Jr. was enslaved by Dr. James Muse, who lived in Cambridge, Dorchester County. His father, Sam Sr., was a former slave who had bought his own freedom in 1833, before purchasing and freeing his wife Kitty several years later. Though both of his parents were free by 1842, Sam Jr. and his sister Susan remained in slavery, following the status of their mother when they were born.1 Still, the two children were recorded as 'free colored persons" in their father's census record for 1840, which indicates that the owner allowed them to live as a family despite their varied legal standing.2 The family resided near Indian Creek, which was about five miles up the Choptank River from Cambridge.
Muse's 1850 Slave Schedule includes a 21 year old African-American man, one of seven bondsmen, who was likely Sam Jr.3 Muse had hired Green out as a blacksmith, though it is unclear where this labor took place. Despite not being a farmer or plantation owner, in the traditional sense, Muse was still "thought by the servants to be the worst man in Maryland, inflicting whipping and all manner of cruelties," according to Green. However, the young slave had certain advantages arising from his locale and family connections. Sam Jr. was literate, an extremely rare skill for those of his social position, which was likely supported by his father, a minister by trade. He was also fortunate to be enslaved in the area that Harriet Tubman had escaped from, and would subsequently target for most of her rescue attempts. At times, she had even used Sam Sr's Dorchester residence as a safehouse for fleeing slaves. Tubman had visited with Sam in the spring of 1854, while trying to free her brothers. He was given detailed instructions on how to reach Philadelphia, which Green wasted little time in using.4
Sam Jr. came to see his father shortly before fleeing. After having asked Dr. Muse for some money, the young bondsman was spared only ten cents for his efforts. This was apparently the last straw for Green, who would say "Father, I must fly for freedom."5 Sam escaped from Indian Creek in late August, taking about a week to reach the northern city where he received help from the Vigilance Committee. Under the alias Wesley Kinnard, Green spoke with abolitionist William Still, who recorded the circumstances of his escape. Still remarked on his intelligence and character, while verifying that "Moses"(Tubman) had been a strong influence on his decision to depart. Green was furnished with a few dollars, and directions to meet with Charles Bustill, another black underground operator in Philadelphia.5,6 He stayed there for four days, and after a brief stop in New York City, Sam Jr. was sheperded to Canada. Tragically, his sister Susan was sold to Missouri soon after the escape, possibly as vengeance against the freedom-seeker's family. It is unknown at what point Sam Jr. realized what had become of his sibling. He wrote a letter from Chippewa that September, assuring his father that there was "plenty to eate," and to "tell P. Jackson to come on Joseph Baley com on."7 For the purpose of gauging their own prospects of moving to Canada, Sam Sr. and Kitty visited their son in the winter of 1856-57. This proved to be a fateful decision.
The elder Green had long been suspected of assisting slaves by his white neighbors, but had avoided any formal accusation up to that point. There was an increasing number of high-profile escapes during the previous year, including the aforementioned Joseph Bailey, which left local planters eager to punish any potential accomplice. When Sheriff Robert Bell came to search the Green home in April 1857, he found the letter, maps and train routes to Canada, as well as the anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom's Cabin. When officials decided they could not prove his involvement in flight, Sam Sr. was instead sentenced to ten years for possessing the book, deemed an "abolitionist pamphlet."8 From his foreign locale, Green was nearly helpless in trying to support his aggrieved family. Writing to William Still later that year, Sam Jr. begged for "any intelligence from Baltimore City abot this Event Plese."9
Despite support from some local whites and his fellow Methodist clergymen, Sam Sr. was not pardoned until 1862, after which he and Kitty joined their son in Canada for a while. By this time, the younger Green was likely living in Norwich, Ontario, where his wife Louisa was recorded in the 1861 Census with two children.10 The two Green men embodied the complex web of status and rights that existed for African-Americans in Dorchester County. The son's own pursuit of freedom tragically led to the loss of liberty for his father. These events unfolded during a period of drastic upheaval in Maryland, and other slave holding societies. Fortunately, both men lived to see the end of that American institution, though Samuel Green Jr. never again returned to the land of his birth.While his parents would ultimately move back to Maryland shortly after the end of slavery there, Sam Jr. remained in the new country with his young family. The 1871 Canadian Census placed him in Ancaster, Ontario, where he was working as a barber.11 Four years later Samuel Green Jr. died at just 45 years old of pneumonia, leaving behind his wife and at least three children.12 Sam Sr. would die two years later in Baltimore, likely not having seen his son for over 10 years.
For a visual representation of Samuel Green Jr.'s journey from slavery to freedom, please click here. Users must have access to Google Earth in order to utilize this file, which includes landmarks(pins) in Green's life from 1847 to 1875.
1. Richard A. Blondo. Samuel Green: A Black Life in Antebellum Maryland. Unpublished M.A. Thesis. University of Maryland, 1988.
2. Ancestry.com. 1840 United States Federal Census, Dorchester County, New Market, p. 23.
3. Ancestry.com. 1850 United States Federal Census, Slave Schedule, Dorchester County, MD, District 1, p. 3.
4. William Still. The Underground Railroad: A Record of Facts, Authentic Narratives, Letters, etc. (Philadelphia: Porter & Coates, 1872), pp. 246-250.
5. "Speech of Rev. Samuel Green." The Liberator. 15 August 1862.(page 2)
6. William Still, Journal C, Station Number 2, 1853-1854, p. 99.
7. East New Market: Correspondance, 10 September 1854. <http://collinsfactor.com/newspaper/1854sep10.htm>.
8. Blondo, pp. 31-36.
9 . Still, 249.
10. Ancestry.com. 1861 Canadian Census, South Norwich, Oxford, Ontario, p. 1208.
11. Ancestry.com. 1871 Canadian Census, E. Ancaster, South Wentworth, Ontario, p. 72.
12. Ancestry.com. Deaths, 1875 - Ancaster, Wentworth, Ontario, p. 15.
Researched and Written by David Armenti, 2012.
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