Resistance to slavery took many forms - some more extreme and more cruel than others. In November 1834, house slave Judah, a 14 year-old, girl confessed to fatally poisoning three of Dr. Bayne children and attempting to set fire to Salubria, his home. Remarkably for the times, she was tried in court. The courthouse records document that Judah had a jury trial in the county seat of Upper Marlboro by twelve White male landowners. She was found guilty and sentenced to be executed by hanging for this crime.
Was her act one of resistance? Press reports from the trial revealed no known motive. In the 200 years of slaveholding in Prince George County, enslaved Marylanders carried out thousands of acts of resistance. Besides fleeing North or enlisting in the military during wars, they managed work slowdowns, feigned illness, broke tools, and more seriously, burned property, stole, fought, murdered and conducted armed insurrections.
Those unsuccessful in finding freedom through defiance often faced severe consequences. In spite of deterrents, bondspeople learned that laughing and loving in the face of slavery and all its inhumanity was itself an act of resistance.
Above and far right:
$200 REWARD - Run away from the absconder, raiding in Prince George county, opposite Alexandria, Va., on Thursday last, Negro Boy "JIM", aged about 21 years, not very dark, low stature, muscular, and rather stout, very thick suit of hair, rather low forehead, and down-cast countenance. I think there is a dark mark or scar on the face.
I will give $100 if apprehended in Maryland, District of Columbia, or Virginia, and $200 if taken in a non-slave holding state, and secured so that I get him again.
John H. Bayne
"Document Script" [Hand-written roster (illegible)]
Above and far right:
Reproduction of classified ads for fugitive slaves from the National Intelligencer.
drawing: upper middle,
"Slave women in kitchen" Courtesy of the Library of Congress
TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS REWARD
Ran away from the subscriber, on Sunday, the 8th of November, my negro man, "SAM", who calls himself Samuel Tyler. He is ordinary stature, about 5 feet 9 or 10 inches high, of rather a copper color, remarkably handsome, and genteel in his appearance. As this servant has had great privileges, he has no doubt accumulated considerable money, and will probably change his clothing. He has taken with him a handsome blue frock coat, one gray coatee with steel buttons, one drab-colored overcoat, one pair of blue pantaloons, and one new pair of light mixed cloth. He went off without provocation, and I have no doubt but he has gone immediately for some free State.
I will give $50 if taken in Prince George county, and in the District of Columbia; $100 if taken out of the county. Am in the State of Maryland, and the above reward if taken anywhere else.
JOHN H. BAYNE, Near Alexandria.