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Leonardtown in St. Mary's County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Lynching in America / Lynching of Benjamin Hance

Community Remembrance Project

 
 
Lynching in America marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Sean C Bath, November 28, 2021
1. Lynching in America marker
Inscription.  
Lynching in America
Racial terror lynching claimed the lives of at least 6,500 Black people in the United States between 1865 and 1950. After the Civil War, many white people remained committed to upholding white supremacy. In opposition to equal rights for Black people, elected officials enacted racist laws that required segregation and excluded Black people from critical pathways to achievement and success. Meanwhile, laws designed to protect Black people from discrimination and provide security were rarely enforced as white mobs used lethal violence to intimidate Black communities and maintain racial hierarchy. Lynching emerged as the most public and notorious form of racial terrorism enacted against Black men, women, and children. Nearly 25 percent of all lynchings were sparked by accusations of sexual assault by Black men against white women, at a time when such accusations extended to any action that could be interpreted as merely seeking contact with a white woman. Lynch mobs regularly displayed complete disregard for the legal system, often abducting their victims from jails, prisons, courtrooms, and even out
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of police hands. Though armed and legally required to protect anyone in their custody, police rarely used force to resist white mobs intent on killing Black people. Although many victims remain unknown, at least 40 racial terror lynchings have been documented in Maryland with one known to have taken place in St. Mary's County.

Lynching of Benjamin Hance
At approximately 2:00 am on June 17, 1887, a white mob lynched Benjamin Hance, a 22-year-old African American resident of St. Mary's County, at the intersection of Newtowne Neck Road and Macintosh Run. In May of 1887, while running an errand for his employer, Mr. Hance allegedly encountered a white woman named Alice Bailey. When Ms. Bailey later reported an assault, claiming that Mr. Hance made “an improper proposal" to her, he was taken into custody and placed in this jail. During this era, accusations of assault against Black men by white women regularly aroused mob violence and lynching. On June 17, a mob of white men came to the jail intent on lynching Mr. Hance. Battering down the jail doors with axes, the mob dragged him from his cell and carried him outside the jail. A white man who lived near the jail saw the mob abducting Mr. Hance. Rather than attempting to intervene, the man asked the mob to carry out the lynching elsewhere so as not to disturb the man's wife. Leaving the jail, the
Lynching of Benjamin Hance marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Sean C Bath, November 28, 2021
2. Lynching of Benjamin Hance marker
mob took Mr. Hance two miles away and hanged him from a witch hazel tree. His body was later buried in the St. Aloysius Church Old Cemetery. Local law enforcement officials failed to indict, prosecute, or hold anyone accountable for the terror lynching, despite several mob members having been identified by county residents. We remember Benjamin Hance in support of justice for all.
 
Erected 2021 by Equal Justice Initiative, The Big Conversation Partnership.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African AmericansCivil RightsLaw Enforcement. In addition, it is included in the Lynching in America series list. A significant historical date for this entry is June 17, 1887.
 
Location. 38° 17.374′ N, 76° 38.158′ W. Marker is in Leonardtown, Maryland, in St. Mary's County. Marker is on Court House Drive just east of Washington Street (Maryland Route 326), on the right when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 41625 Court House Dr, Leonardtown MD 20650, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Leonardtown (here, next to this marker); This Cannon (here, next to this marker); The Great House (a few steps from this marker); A Town Spared (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Veterans Memorial
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(about 400 feet away); World War I Monument -- Leonardtown (about 500 feet away); The Legend of Moll Dyer (about 500 feet away); War Comes to Breton Bay (about 600 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Leonardtown.
 
Additional keywords. violence, racism
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on March 9, 2022. It was originally submitted on December 2, 2021, by Sean C Bath of Silver Spring, Maryland. This page has been viewed 426 times since then and 87 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on December 2, 2021, by Sean C Bath of Silver Spring, Maryland. • Devry Becker Jones was the editor who published this page.
 
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Jul. 23, 2024