Thomas Griffin (farmer)

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Thomas Griffin
BornJanuary 1, 1889
Died (aged 26)
Known forWrongful execution

Thomas Griffin (January 1, 1889 – September 29, 1915) and Meeks Griffin were brothers and prominent black farmers who lived in Chester County, South Carolina. They were executed via the electric chair in 1915 for the murder in 1913 of 75-year-old John Q. Lewis, a Confederate veteran of Blackstock.

The Griffin brothers were convicted based on the accusations of another black man, John "Monk" Stevenson, who was known to be a small-time thief. Stevenson, who was found in possession of the victim's pistol, was sentenced to life in prison in exchange for testifying against the brothers.

Two other African Americans, Nelson Brice and John Crosby, were executed with the brothers for the same crime.

However, some in the community believed that the murder might have been the result of Lewis's suspected sexual relationship with 22-year-old Anna Davis. Davis and her husband were never tried, possibly for fear of a miscegenation scandal.

The Griffin brothers, who were believed to be the wealthiest blacks in the area, sold their 138-acre (0.56 km2) farm to pay for their defense against the accusations.

Over 100 people petitioned Gov. Richard Manning to commute the brothers' sentence. The signatories included prominent people including Blackstock's mayor, a sheriff, two trial jurors and the grand jury foreman. Nevertheless, they were sent to the electric chair.[1]

Thomas Griffin and Meeks Griffin were pardoned in October 2009 after Tom Joyner sought the pardons of his great-uncles from state appeals court in Columbia, South Carolina.[2]

Joyner learned about his relationship to the Griffins through a research conducted for the PBS documentary, African American Lives 2, by Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr., which also traced 11 other relatives.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Adcox, Seanna (2009-10-15). "Radio host Tom Joyner clears his family's name". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 2009-10-18.
  2. ^ a b Spillius, Alex (2009-10-18). "South Carolina pardons black brothers convicted of 1913 killing". London: Telegraph. Retrieved 2009-10-18.