Markell Issues Posthumous Pardon for Samuel Burris Today

Nov 2, 2015

Samuel Burris
Credit 19th century sketch

DOVER, Del. (AP) - Gov. Jack Markell is issuing a posthumous pardon for a free black man from Kent County who was convicted almost 170 years ago of helping slaves trying to escape from their owners on the Underground Railroad.

Descendants of Samuel D. Burris planned to join Markell and state lawmakers on Monday for a ceremony at the Old State House in Dover, the same location where Burris's trial was held.

Officials also will dedicate a new historical marker honoring Burris.

Burris was caught helping a slave try to escape in 1847. After he was found guilty of enticing slaves to escape, part of his sentence was that he himself be sold into slavery for seven years. Instead, a Pennsylvania anti-slavery society raised the money to purchase him and set him free.