Hogan issues posthumous pardons for 34 victims of racial lynching in Maryland

MARYLAND —  On Saturday, Governor Larry Hogan issued a full posthumous pardon for 34 victims of racial lynching in Maryland between 1854 and 1933. It is the first time in history that a governor has issued a blanket pardon for the victims of racial lynchings.

This comes on the basis that these extrajudicial killings violated fundamental rights to due process and equal protection of law.

Gov. Hogan made the announcement at an event in Towson in honor of Howard Cooper, a 15-year old boy who was dragged from the Baltimore County Jail and hanged from a sycamore tree. He said in part quote, “The State of Maryland has long been on the forefront of civil rights, dating back to Justice Thurgood Marshall’s legal battle to integrate schools and throughout our national reckoning on race,” said Governor Hogan. “Today, we are once again leading the way as we continue the work to build a more perfect union. My hope is that this action will at least in some way help to right these horrific wrongs and perhaps bring a measure of peace to the memories of these individuals, and to their descendants and loved ones.”

Of those pardoned included a few men who were lynched here on the Eastern Shore:

David Thomas, who was lynched by a mob in or near Denton on or about October 10, 1854, before he could be transferred to a state penitentiary, a PARDON as to his conviction of manslaughter;

Asbury Green, who, after a mob overpowered jail guards, was dragged from his cell and lynched in or near Centreville on or about May 13, 1891, a PARDON as to his convictions for assault and rape;

James Taylor, who, after a mob stormed a Chestertown jail, was taken away and lynched on or about May 17, 1892, a PARDON as to the allegations of rape for which he was jailed;

Isaac Kemp, who, after a mob stormed a Princess Anne jail, was shot dead while still chained in his cell on or about June 8, 1894, a PARDON as to charges of murder;

William Andrews, who, immediately after his trial, was taken and lynched in or near Princess Anne by a mob waiting outside the courthouse on or about June 9, 1897, a PARDON as to his conviction for assault;

Garfield King, who was seized from jail by a mob, then hanged and shot in or near Salisbury on or about May 25, 1898, a PARDON as to charges of murder;

George Armwood, who was seized from jail before his arraignment and lynched in or near Princess Anne on or about October 18, 1933, a PARDON as to charges of assault.

In addition, Governor Hogan sent a letter to President Biden today encouraging him to establish a U.S. Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation Commission. In 2019, the governor enacted into law a measure to establish the Maryland Lynching Truth and Reconcilation Commission, the first of its kind in the United States. “A national commission would further this important work by examining racial healing through a larger lens,” the governor wrote.

Categories: Maryland