No Consequences for the killing of Benjamin Hance

Benjamin Hance was a twenty-two-year-old black man, who lived in St. Mary’s County at the intersection of Newtown Neck Road and Macintosh Run. Many sources were unsure of his age, twenty-two was the only age found. It is assumed that he was born in 1865. Then later in 1887, Hance was running an errand for his employer when he met an eighteen-year-old white woman named Alice Bailey. It is unclear what day. Hance had stopped Bailey and asked for directions. Bailey states after Hance asked for her help then he made several “improper proposals.” According to Bailey, she began to run, and Hance went after her and pushed her to the ground. Bailey had started to scream for help. Later, Hance was arrested on June 2nd and was sent to Leonardtown jail. No trail date was found, record- keeping at the time was unreliable.

Once Bailey’s story had gotten the town was upset that a black man would dare assault a white woman. A mob of white men formed outside the jail. In the eyes of the mob saving Bailey from the embracement of testifying was more important than Hance’s life. On June 17th, 1887, at 2 Am, the mob pulled Hance outside of the jailhouse. They then produced to hold C. John Clements, who was the officer on duty at the time. They held him at gunpoint to ensure they could take Hance. It had taken the mob thirty minutes to threaten the guard and take Hance outside with the intent to lynch him.

The lynching was going to take place right outside of the jail until Dr. John T. Spalding came out of his home. Dr. Spalding was a white man who lived near the jail. Dr. Spalding requested that Hance’s lynching be held away from his house since his sick wife was inside. Hance was taken to the outskirts of town where he was hung on a witch hazel tree. His body was later moved and buried in St. Aloysius Church in the old cemetery. Allegedly the mob consisted of several notable individuals, such as W.V Waters, and Sheriff Bailey (Alice’s father). Despite multiple testimonies, not one of the members of the mob or any others that were involved were charged for the killing of Hance. Hance was one of forty men to be lynched in St. Mary’s County.