[A letter to the Governor of Pennsylvania in pursuit of a runaway slave.]. Thomas Contee Worthington.

[A letter to the Governor of Pennsylvania in pursuit of a runaway slave.]

Frederick, Maryland, 15 November 1834. 8vo (25 x 20 cm) letter on pink paper. 1 p. of manuscript. Docketed: “His Excellency Governor Wolf Mr. McGill / Harrisburg.”.

A brief letter written by a former U. S. Representative from Maryland to the Governor of Pennsylvania on behalf of a slave-owner whose slave has gone missing.

Attorney Thomas Contee Worthington (1782–1847) here writes to sitting Governor of Pennsylvania George Wolf (1777–1840) on behalf of one Mr. McGill, a farmer living outside of Frederick, Maryland seeking the recovery one of his slaves. Worthington hopes Wolf will be able to offer McGill assistance; the letter reads in full:

Sir, Permit me to introduce to your acquaintance my friend Mr. McGill, who visits Harrisburg in pursuit of one of his slaves. Mr. McGill is a farmer, residing not far from this City; he is a gentleman of great respectability, and of a high sense of honor; your Excellency therefore, may repose the utmost confidence in whatever he may represent to you in relation to the said slave. Any services you can render Mr. McGill will be highly appreciated by me, and if you can aid him in procuring his slave you will lay him under great obligations— With sentiments of the highest respect and esteem, I have the honor to be your Excellency’s obedient servant.

This letter is indicative of the measures taken by parties seeking the recovery of runaway slaves in the north prior to the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law. In this case, an attorney acting on behalf of a slaveholder appeals to the highest authority in the state of Pennsylvania for assistance, in an effort to prevail over the absence of effective laws to aid the slaveowner as well as the efforts of abolitionists to aid runaway slaves.

Thomas Contee Worthington (1782–1847) was an attorney and Congressman from Maryland who also served as a Captain in the War of 1812. Between 1818–1847, he was Brigadier General of the Ninth Brigade of the Maryland Militia. In 1817, Worthington began practicing law in Annapolis, Maryland. He moved to Frederick, Maryland a year later to serve in the Maryland House of Delegates where he continued to practice law. Elected U. S. Representative to the Nineteenth Congress, Worthington served from 1825 to 1827; following this term, he retiurned to Frederick and the practice of law. In 1830 he became a member of the executive council under the first State constitution.

George Wolf served as the seventh Governor of Pennsylvania between 1829–1835; he is known as the “father of the public-school system” in Pennsylvania.

CONDITION: Old folds, a few minor punctures along folds.

Item #5142


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