Works by Scott D. Seligman

   


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A Second Reckoning: Race, Injustice and the Last Hanging in Annapolis

Scott D. Seligman                          

Potomac Books

University of Nebraska Press

 

(forthcoming, October, 2021)

 

A Second Reckoning recounts the story of John Snowden, a Black man accused of the brutal murder of a pregnant white woman in Annapolis, Maryland, in 1917. He refused to confess despite undergoing torture, was tried—through legal shenanigans—by an all-white jury, and was found guilty on circumstantial evidence and sentenced to death.

 

Despite hair-raising, last-minute appeals to spare his life, Snowden was denied clemency and hanged for the crime, even though many Annapolitans - Black and white - believed him innocent. More than eight decades after his death, however, thanks to tireless efforts by interested citizens and family members who considered him a victim of a “legal lynching,” Snowden was pardoned posthumously by the governor of Maryland in 2001.


The book uses Snowden’s case to bring posthumous pardons into the national conversation about amends for past racial injustices. It argues that the repeal of racist laws and policies must be augmented by reckoning with America’s judicial past, especially in cases in which prejudice may have tainted procedures or perverted verdicts, evidence of bias survives, and a constituency exists for a second look. It illustrates the profound effects such acts of clemency have on the living and ends with a call for a reexamination of such cases on the national level by the Department of Justice, which officially refuses to consider them.

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

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