The Accomac Prisoners Free

November 7, 1908


Two black men, Samuel L. Burton and Sylvanus Conquest, are sentenced to one year in jail for “rioting” but proved innocent after a second trial. The Planet believes this decision gives “hope to every progressive, wealth producing, law-abiding colored man in the State.”


The following telegraphic information will explain itself: “Norfolk, Va., OCt. 27 - Acting upon a telegram from S.J. Turlington, Commonwealth's Attorney of Accomac county, Commonwealth's Attorney John. G. Tilton yesterday entered a nolle prosequi in the cases of Samuel L. Burton and Sylvanus Conquest charged with rioting during the race trouble on the Eastern Shore. This ends the matter in court. Burton and Conquest were twice convicted and sentenced, but each time Attorneys H. Wilcox and J.L. Jeffries secured a new trial from the Supreme Court. Burton and Conquest were given one year each in the penitentiary in the Corporation Court here. An appeal was taken and a new trial granted. J.D. Uzzle, the editor, was acquitted. The telegram from Commonwealth Attorney Turlington of Accomac county and filed by Commonwealth’s Attorney Tilton with the papers in the case follows: “Accomac, Va., Oct. 26, ‘08, John G. Tilton, Commonwealth’s Attorney for Norfolk, Va. I realize under the decision of the Supreme Court it is useless to further prosecute in the case of Commonwealth against Burton and Conquest. This then is another evidence of the impartiality of the Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia and emphasizes what we have so often said, - that a colored citizen need not go further than the boundaries of this State in order to secure justice. Our remedy at law is at home. So positive were the legal mandates handed down from this Temple of Justice that even the prejudiced officials of Accomac County, Va. realised the hopelessness of the struggle. This decision will give hope to every progressive, wealth producing, law-abiding colored man in the State. It shows that if we live upright and prove ourselves entitled to the respect of the white and colored people of the neighborhood in which we reside that we can always feel safe when the proper appeal is made to the Tribunal that represents the justice loving power of the commonwealth. All praise to the counsel of white men, who so ably represent these colored men in their long warfare for justice.
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Emma Alvarez


“The Accomac Prisoners Free,” Black Virginia: The Richmond Planet, 1894-1909, accessed August 24, 2019,