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Samuel Green: Suspected of Aiding the “Dover Eight” In Escape from Slavery

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Samuel Green was an African-American self-emancipated anti-slavery activist who was imprisoned in 1857 for possessing a copy of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, after being suspected of assisting the “Dover Eight” in their escape from slavery. Green, an underground railroad agent, is known to have assisted Harriet Tubman and other fugitives in successfully escaping to freedom.

Green was born in East New Market, Maryland. His mother was enslaved and it is unknown whether his father was enslaved as well. Green belonged to Henry Nichols until Nichols died in 1832. Nichols Last Will and Testament stated:

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Nichols Last Will and Testament stated: “It is my will and desire that my negro man Sam Green, be sold for a term of five years and my negro man Daniel for a term of ten years, and to have the liberty to choose Masters, and after the expiration of said terms I do hereby manumit and set them free.”

Green worked hard for the next year, saving enough money to cover his remaining four years of service. In 1842, he was able to buy his wife Kitty from enslaver Ezekial Richardson for $100. Green freed his wife the same day, despite Richardson’s claim that she was enslaved for life. In 1855, a certificate proving Kitty Green’s freedom was issued.

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Green did receive some education, allowing him to read and write. He was a delegate to the Convention of the Free Colored People of Maryland in Baltimore in 1852, where he fought against efforts to encourage emigration to Africa. As a delegate from Maryland, he attended the National Convention of the Colored People of the United States in Philadelphia in October 1855.

The Greens’ house served as an Underground Railroad safe house. Green and Tubman are thought to be related by blood. Green gained widespread respect in the white community, which likely kept him from being confronted violently for alleged crimes.

It wasn’t until mid-March 1857 that rumors began to circulate that Green had played a role in the escape of the Dover Eight, a group of eight runways who had eluded capture in a daring flight from Dorchester County. In fact, the group sought assistance and shelter from Samuel Green in East New Market.

Then they were helped by Tubman’s father, Ben Ross, at Poplar Neck in Caroline County. The group then made their way to Thomas Otwell, a black Underground Railroad conductor in Delaware who was supposed to assist them in their journey to freedom. Tubman had faith in Otwell. She trusted him with the group’s safety, but Otwell tricked them into going to the Dover jail to collect a $3,000 reward for their capture.

Green home was searched and he was arrested on April 4, 1857 and charged with “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 “knowingly having in his possession certain abolition papers and pictorial representation of an inflammatory character calculated to create discontent amongst the colored population of this State.”

Green was released from jail in 1862, but under the terms of his release, he must leave Maryland. He and his wife fled the state and traveled to Canada. After the American Civil War, Green and his wife returned to Maryland, settling in Dorchester County to resume their pre-trial lives. Samuel Green died on February 28, 1877, from kidney inflammation.

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Written by How Africa News

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