In some sense the story of John Bayne of Salubria - physician and horticulturist, slaveholder and abolitionist, Senator and citizen - is the story of the unwilling partnership that built Prince George's County, Maryland. Farmer and politician, natural philosopher and citizen scientist, a slaveholder whose support of that evil and peculiar institution came to affect him personally and tragically as it affected the slave which he owned. His story is that of a tortured route to support the abolition of slavery which had benefited him and a privileged minority in the State of Maryland.
The industry of Prince George's County in the early 19th century was overwhelmingly agricultural providing great wealth that came "from the land, tobacco, and from slaves." Indeed, "more slaves worked here than in any other county in the state, and the gentry, the old families who led our social and public life, lived in a style beﬁtting the legends that linger about them." Moreover, the plantation economy of Prince George's County was at its height. By 1860 the county was producing more than thirteen million pounds of tobacco annually. In addition to tobacco, the area produced more than 300,000 bushels of wheat and about 700,000 bushels of corn, and local farmers owned 5,000 horses, 4,000 milk cows, 9,000 sheep, and 25,000 swine. Much of the farm work was done by slaves; among the 2,000 white families in the county, there were 850 slaveholders holding 12,500 slaves.
An 1848 report of an agricultural society's visit to Salubria describes Dr. John H. Bayne, as "the ne plus ultra of horticulturists. The committee spoke of the "wondrous delight upon his variety of fruits. But when they came to taste his delicious Elsinburg grapes, Gloria Mundi, Bell flower, French pippin, Newton Pippin, Holland do., Fall do., Roxbury Russett, English do., Pennock's winter Golden pippin, Redstreak, Siberian crab, Baldwin Winesap and winter Catlin apples, peaches, lemons, &etc, they unanimously agreed, that to Doctor Bayne must be awarded the premium for the best variety of fruit. The committee award to this gentleman another premium of five dollars for his pears and flowers, the only ones exhibited." Pauline Collin writes that "Dr. Bayne was not only a prominent doctor, but an active participant in horticulture and politics. He farmed his own land and his father's lands and is credited with taking the tomato out of the garden curiosity class and making it a field crop." He was also a close associate of Charles B. Calvert of Riverdale, and assisted him in the planning of the College of Agriculture at the University of Maryland and a friend of Thomas G. Clemson (of Clemson University fame)."
Dr. John Bayne was born on February 15, 1804 in Maryland. An influential slaveholder of Prince George's County during the nineteenth century, he was a physician and served as a state senator during the Civil War (1861 – 1865). One of most consistent roles Bayne played was to advocate for all Maryland slaveholders who witnessed their property literally walk away during the chaos of the conflict. As other slave holders also lived in his neighborhood—in particular, Thomas E. Berry at Oxon Hill Plantation—cross-plantation communities among the slaves developed. These connections were important in flight attempts, for blacks from neighboring plantations often ran together. Indeed, when Bayne's slave Sam Tyler fled Salubria in December 1840, his owner suspected that he had run off with one of Berry's Oxon Hill slaves, a man named Jacob Shaw.
President Lincoln gave Dr. Bayne a commission as a high-ranking surgeon in the Union Army during the Civil War. Bayne frequently consulted the White House and Maryland's Governor to deal with the problem. In the end, however, neither Senator Bayne, nor his fellow slaveholders could stop self-emancipation efforts of enslaved Marylanders. By 1864, John Bayne foresaw the inevitable end of slavery and wrote a declension speaking out against slavery in favor of a unified nation. Partially in recognition of this, Maryland lawmakers finally abolished slavery in the state with the Constitution of 1864.
John Bayne was the owner of the Salubria Plantation in Southern Prince George's County, Maryland. Bayne owned a number of slaves and witnessed resistance on his plantation through destruction of property, harm to his family, and slaves running away. On November 6, 1834 a fourteen-year-old slave named Judith, poisoned Bayne's two sons, George (7 years old) and John (5 years old), who died days later. Judith was interrogated and confessed to the crime. She further admitted attempting to burn the dwelling house at Salubria and killing Bayne's infant daughter Mary Catherine two years prior. According to newspapers of the time, no one understood Judith's motives at the time because "she came from a nice family." Although Judith was only 14 at the time, she was tried and hanged. The children of Dr. Bayne and his wife Mary are buried in the Apple Grove Cemetery in Fort Washington. John Bayne died on August 18, 1870 and is buried at the St. Barnabas Episcopal Church Cemetery in Temple Hills, MD.
1 Chapter 5 The Washington Years Alan Grubb http://www.clemson.edu/cedp/cudp/pubs/tclemson/05grubb.pdf
2 The American Farmer, and Spirit of the Agricultural Journals of the Day Samuel Sands 1848
3 Along the Shores of the Potomac in Prince George's County A local History from TantaCove Garden Club 1992
4 PG County Pictorial History and Stones and Bones
5 © Copyright February 06, 2007 Maryland State Archives http://www.msa.md.gov/megafile/msa/speccol/sc5400/sc5496/010500/010538/html/010538bio.html
Judith admittrf to having previously poisoned Dr. Bayne's infant daughter Mary Catherine two years prior.