On May 4, 1814, after months of preparations by the Building Committee of St. Paul’s Church and builder Robert Carey Long, Rev. Dr. James Kemp gathered his congregation at the northern end of Charles Street to lay their cornerstone for their new church. In a sermon delivered at St. Paul’s Church in 1878, Revered John Sebastian Bach Hodges commented on the pressing need for a new building in 1814:
The ground upon which the Church stood, we have already remarked, was high, but that occupied by St. Paul Street and by the first five houses which front on Lexington Street counting from the corner of St. Paul had, as early as the beginning of the century, been reduced to the present level. The consequence was caving in of the hill upon which the Church stood, which, about 1811 or ’12, was obliged to be protected by a strong wall the defence proved inadequate, and the consequence was that it was indispensable to build a new Church, hence the erection of the present S. Paul’s, which was consecrated in the year 1817.
On February 23, 1814, Nathaniel Hynson, warden of the Maryland Penitentiary since April 1812 and a prominent cabinet-maker, was replaced by a new warden Benjamin Williams. Williams’ appointment sparked a conflict between the Inspectors of the Penitentiary (a group that included Hezekiah Clagget, John Hillen, James Kemp, George Lindenberger, Isaac McPherson, John Oliver, Henry Payson, George Roberts, Baltzer Schaeffer, Samuel Sterett, and Elisha Tyson) and Maryland Governor Levin Winder documented in a series of letters between the parties.
On January 27, 1814, Benjamin Williams wrote “with concern” to Col. John Thomas in Annapolis sharing that the Inspectors of the Penitentiary objected to his appointment and remarking “should the intrigue of the Inspectors succeed, it would be a ruinous stroke to me.” On January 28, 1814, Baltimore judge Luther Martin wrote directly to Governor Winder, to note Williams’ arrival in Baltimore and object that none of the Inspectors had any prior notice and remarking that Hynson’s character and livelihood was affected by his removal.
The Maryland legislature established the state penitentiary in 1809 with an act declaring that “all prisoners convicted of any crime punishable by confinement in the penitentiary should be placed and kept in solitary cells thereof, and kept on low and [coarse] diet for such a time as the discretion of the court might direct.” The same act also determined that the warden or keeper of the penitentiary “in addition to the salary allowed him by the Legislature, have five per centum on the sale of all articles manufactured by the prisoners in the institution, with the power to appoint his deputies and assistants.” The keeper’s responsibilities included providing “a sufficient quantity of stock and materials, working tools and implements for the employment of the convicts and to contract for the clothing diet and other necessaries for the maintenance and support of the convicts.”
As a member of the Columbian Fire Company and a former member of the Baltimore First Branch City Council, Hynson was a well-known local citizen but likely still struggled from the sudden loss of wages from his position. Hynson may have returned to his trade as a cabinet-maker but, on March 14, 1821, he came back to the Maryland Penitentiary where he took over from Benjamin Williams as keeper until February 9, 1825.