Delaware Governor Mulls Pardon for Abolitionists

Jan 7, 2015

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - Gov. Jack Markell's office is mulling a request to pardon three 19th-century Delawareans convicted of helping smuggle slaves.

Pennsylvania resident Robert Seeley has asked Markell to pardon his ancestor, Thomas Garrett, a prominent Quaker abolitionist credited with helping more than 2,700 slaves reach freedom. Seeley also is seeking pardons for John Hunn and his partner, Samuel Burris, a free black man. Hunn was convicted with Garrett in 1848 for aiding a slave family.

Markell's chief legal counsel, Andy Lippstone, says the idea is an interesting one that could potentially right a historical wrong.

But Lippstone notes that Delaware's governor can grant a pardon only upon a recommendation by the Board of Pardons. 

Lippstone says Markell's office will be working with the board to examine the feasibility of a posthumous pardon.