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The Mob and Freedom Of The Press – Part 2

Earlier on this site, we published an account of a Baltimore mob’s displeasure at what had been printed by a newspaper opposed to the declaration of war by the US Congress, and its subsequent signing by James Madison.

To recap:

Destruction of the Newspaper The Federal Republican by a Mob In Baltimore

One of paper’s proprietors, Alexander Contee Hanson, was out of town at the time, but on returning to Baltimore and discovering what had transpired, resolved to re-establish the paper.

Hanson Resolve To Re-establish His Paper

Hanson and his friends set up the newspaper again in the house of its other proprietor, a Mr. Wagner, who moved his family out of the house presumably for their safety. Now fast forward a few days until the 26th of July, 1812.

Civil Authority Unwilling To Protect Freedom of The Press - 1

Civil Authorities Unwilling to Protect Freedom of The Press - 2

The mob became progressively more boisterous and was not intimidated when the occupants of the house, including General Henry “Light Horse” Lee, hero of the Revolution and father of Robert E. Lee, fired blanks in attempt to frighten them away.

The militia, under the command of a Major Bradley, attempted to mediate the situation until his general and the mayor showed up.

The Mayor of Baltimore and Hanson -1 The Mayor of Baltimore and Hanson -1 The Mayor of Baltimore and Hanson -3

After much going back and forth between the mob and the occupants of the house, the civil authorities, acting as intermediaries for the mob, promised to escort those in the house safely to the jail — for their own protection.  Hanson strenuously advised against such a course.

Promises Made to Keep Hanson and Companions Safe

Against their better judgement, they resolved to allow themselves to be taken to the jail.  General Lee thought this the best course, and Hanson deferred to his wishes.

To The Jail - and Their Fate

Following their incarceration, General Stricker ,who had guaranteed their safety, made himself scarce.

General Stricker's Word

That evening, the mob made promises to behave themselves and the mayor and the general dismissed the militia!

Cowardly, Complicit or Both

Those in the jail had a few pistols and knives between them and thought to fight their way out.  Hanson instead proposed that they put out all the lights and try to escape in the confusion, figuring that while he might be recognized, the others might have a chance.

The mob breaks into the jail to seize Hanson and his colleagues

Several of Hanson’s party were brutally killed, including General Lingan, a hero of the Revolutionary War.  Others were severely beaten and mangled, like General Henry Lee.

General Lee brutally mauled

Both Hanson and Lee survived, but Lee would never be the same and died a broken man a few years later.  Hanson would later serve in Congress.



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