Zion's Herald and Wesleyan Journal
Boston: Boston Wesleyan Association for the New England Annual Conferences of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 23 February 1859


  A Mr. O. P. Merryman, of Baltimore, who was Warden of the Maryland Prison in which Samuel Greene, a colored Methodist preacher, is serving out a ten years' sentence for having a copy of Uncle Tom's Cabin, has a letter in the Christian Advocate and Journal, in which he endeavors to apologize for the contemptible tyranny of the sentence. He says:

  "At the time of his incarnation the undersigned was the Warden of that institution, and from the nature of the transcript accompanying the prisoner was overwhelmed with surprise that such a state of things could exist in the State of Maryland, and immediately took the necessary measures with a view to the executive's clemency. I soon, however, found the case a very different one from what I suppose from the transcript; and that instead of Greene simply having "Uncle Tom's Cabin," there was found in his possession sundry letters from slaves who has absconded from the neighborhood in which he was living, and which letters had been forwarded to him from Canada, giving a description of the route and country, and holding out inducements to others named in those letters to abscond from their masters, all going to show that he had been the instrument through which this wholesale work was being carried on. He had been for years suspected. Had the simple fact of his having in possession the book referred to been the sole ground of his imprisonment, a community ever ready to defend the helpless and oppressed of every color would long ago have demanded and effected his release."

  It seems, then, that the very jailor was "overwhelmed with surprise at the nature of the transcript accompanying the prisoner." Even a hangman can feel some sympathy. Why then go behind the "transcript?" The "transcript" is a statement of the charge on which Greene was tried, and for which he was condemned, which was in substance, "for having a copy of 'Uncle Tom's Cabin' in his possession;" and now what right has the Warden to volunteer his unofficial and worthless testimony, that Greene was guilty of the additional crime of writing letters to slaves and free negroes? And what a stupendous crime that would be, even if Greene had been tried on that charge and found guilty, to write letters describing the pathway from slavery to freedom! It is a wonder that the old exhorter, even upon suspicion, is not now taken out of prison and burned alive! Fortunate is it for the reputation of Greene that this charge is supported only by the volunteer testimony of his jailor. Perhaps if even the Warden was put under oath he might not confirm it. And yet this "community is ever ready to defend the helpless and oppressed of every color!"—If the above is a specimen of their benevolence, what would be a specimen of their cruelty!

  We reported the imprisonment of Greene as soon as we heard it, as an instance of the wicked tyranny of slavery—unsurpassed by anything of the kind in Christian or heathen lands—and the above apology of the Warden only adds meanness to wickedness.