Wright Smith

The October 8, 1889 issue of The Baltimore Sun reported that Mary Morrison and her sister Hattie Rhodes were attacked by 56 year old Wright Smith during an attempted robbery at the residence of James and Mary Morrison in Anne Arundel County. September 2, 1898 just before 11PM, a break in occurred at the Morrison home. Both sisters were sleeping when they were awakened by Smith demanding they get out of bed. An altercation between Smith and Morrison resulted in Mary being thrown down a staircase by Smith. Hattie managed to alert a neighbor of what had occurred. Smith fled. Despite any evidence connecting Smith to the crime, he was arrested on suspicion and held at the Annapolis City Jail. It is unclear when or where Smith, said to be a Baltimore City politician and resident of Baltimore City, was actually arrested.

Wednesday October 5, 1898 Wright was shot and killed by a mob of 30 to 40 men who had originally planned to lynch him but had not been successful. It’s reported that around 2AM that morning, the mob quietly assembled their way into the Annapolis City Jail while the warden and deputy warden of the jail were sleeping. Holding the guard on duty Thomas J. Duvall at gunpoint, the lynchers forced Smith out of his cell to exit the jail. After being led by the group of men outside the jail and onto Calvert Street where they hoped to hang him, Wright was able to break away running up Northwest Street screaming for help while being chased by the mob. He was only able to make it a short distance before he took multiple shots to the back of the head where he fell dead in a vacant lot. Not one person involved in this heinous act was identified or held responsible for Smith’s murder. The only information recorded about the mob was that the men traveled in buggies from Baltimore City, where the Morrisons resided prior to moving to Anne Arundel County. Alderman Wiley H. Bates, a known advocate for African Americans at the time, requested that the Annapolis City council look further into the identities of the mob members but his proposal was denied. Wright Smith, among 33 other victims of lynching crimes between 1854 and 1933 in Maryland were granted a posthumous pardon from Governor Larry Hogan to recognize these unlawful crimes and unjust murders.