African American History: Lynchings in Montgomery County


In 2017, the Equal Justice Initiative published research documenting more than 4,000 racial terror lynchings in America between 1877 and 1950.[1] Based on fanatical fears regarding interracial sex and the desire to maintain white supremacy through an unquestioned racial hierarchy, lynchings during the post-Reconstruction era (1877 onward) in former slave states like Maryland became particularly targeted to terrorize the Black population, often carried out over any infraction, real or imagined.[2] The extra-judicial nature of lynching allowed former enslavers to continue to exert dominance, power, and control over Black people.[3] Maryland’s statewide number of lynchings has not been definitively established, as research is ongoing. The number varies between 28 and 40 depending on the time period under consideration, and the majority took place on the Eastern Shore.[4] Lynching activity nationwide peaked between 1880 and 1900, and at least 20 of Maryland’s cases took place within that period,[5] including the three documented lynchings in Montgomery County: George Peck and John Diggs-Dorsey in 1880 and Sidney Randolph in 1896. We present below the most current research and information on the Montgomery County lynchings, which includes comprehensive narratives for each man’s story, supported by newspaper accounts, maps, photographs, and biographical information on all named participants.




George Peck (c. 1858-1880)





John Diggs-Dorsey (b.1856-1860, d. 1880)





Sidney Randolph (b.1868-1870, d.1896)





NEW! July 2020: Volume 63, Number 1 of the Montgomery County Story, by Librarian/Archivist Sarah Hedlund, featuring the history of the two 1880 lynchings in Montgomery County: George Peck and John Diggs-Dorsey.







On July 21 and 22, 2020, Montgomery History, in partnership with The Montgomery County Lynching Memorial Project, Peerless Rockville, and the County Remembrance and Reconciliation Commission, held a two-part event learning about and discussing the two Rockville lynchings that occurred in 1880 and 1896. Click here for the contact information of the participating organizations.


WATCH! Part One, “Uncovering the Stories of Two Lynchings in Rockville,” given by Montgomery History’s Archivist Sarah Hedlund on July 21, 2020:

WATCH! Part Two,
“Remembering is Resistance: The Rockville Lynchings,” with panelists Djenebou Traore, Anthony Cohen, Michael Williams, Cathy Roberts, Lesley Younge, and Awad Tambal, presented on July 22, 2020:

[1] Equal Justice Initiative, “Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror, 3rd Edition” (Montgomery, AL: EJI, 2017), 4.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ida B. Wells, “Southern Horrors,” in Mia Bay, ed., The Light of Truth: Writings of an Anti-Lynching Crusader (New York: Penguin Books, 2014), 69.

[4] Maryland State Archives: Legacy of Slavery in Maryland. Judge Lynch’s Court, (June 3, 2020).

[5] Maryland State Archives: Legacy of Slavery in Maryland. Judge Lynch’s Court,case studies,  (June 3, 2020).