Search over numerous datasets and reconstruct the lives of people involved in the historical slave trade. Browse interconnected data, generate visualizations, and explore short biographies of enslaved and freed peoples.
Our research began when a colleague brought to the university’s attention an 1850 US census return for Johns Hopkins: A “slave schedule” that attributed the ownership of four enslaved men (aged 50, 45, 25, and 18) to Hopkins. Preliminary research confirmed that the “Johns Hopkins” associated with this census return was the same person for whom the university was later named.
This evidence ran counter to the long-told story about Johns Hopkins, one that posited him as the son of a man, Samuel Hopkins, who had manumitted the family’s slaves in 1807. Johns Hopkins himself was said to have been an abolitionist and Quaker, the implication being that he opposed slavery and never owned enslaved people.
The details of the 1850 census slave schedule for Johns Hopkins have generated new research along four lines of inquiry. How had the university for so long told a story about Hopkins that did not account for his having held enslaved people? Which aspects of the Hopkins family story can be confirmed by evidence? What do we learn about Hopkins and his family when we investigate their relationship to slavery anew? And, who were the enslaved people in the Hopkins households and what can we know about their lives?
Johns Hopkins, the 19th-century businessman who bequeathed a fortune to found the hospital and university in Baltimore that bear his name, and who on scanty evidence was long heralded as an abolitionist, enslaved at least four Black people before the Civil War, school officials disclosed Wednesday.
The story passed down for generations was that the wealthy Quaker merchant Johns Hopkins was also an abolitionist. After he died in 1873, his multi-million-dollar bequest for the university and hospital bearing his name seemed an extension of an enlightened vision. So the discovery of census records that Hopkins owned enslaved people—one in 1840, four a decade later … is shocking. Hopkins president asked Professor Martha S. Jones, an authority on African-American history, to lead continuing research about the founder’s links to slavery. We ask why it’s important.
VIRTUAL FIELD TRIPS: Since kids can't go out on field trips these days, @NatGeoMuseum is putting on a virtual field trip series. Their first guest speaker is Carter Clinton, a @HowardU researcher who uses soil to study the DNA of enslaved people @nbcwashington pic.twitter.com/YiUhEq2Pl9— Aimee Cho (@AimeeCho4) October 21, 2020
In this provocative and original exploration of racial subjugation during slavery and its aftermath, Saidiya Hartman illumines the forms of terror and resistance that shaped black identity. Scenes of Subjection examines the forms of domination that usually go undetected; in particular, the encroachments of power that take place through notions of humanity, enjoyment, protection, rights, and consent. By looking at slave narratives, plantation diaries, popular theater, slave performance, freedmen's primers, and legal cases, Hartman investigates a wide variety of "scenes" ranging from the auction block and minstrel show to the staging of the self-possessed and rights-bearing individual of freedom. While attentive to the performance of power--the terrible spectacles of slaveholders' dominion and the innocent amusements designed to abase and pacify the enslaved--and the entanglements of pleasure and terror in these displays of mastery, Hartman also examines the possibilities for resistance, redress and transformation embodied in black performance and everyday practice. This important study contends that despite the legal abolition of slavery, emergent notions of individual will and responsibility revealed the tragic continuities between slavery and freedom. Bold and persuasively argued, Scenes of Subjection will engage readers in a broad range of historical, literary, and cultural studies.
The scholar’s provocative writing illuminates stories that have long gone untold.
Statues aren’t about history they are about adoration. This man was not great, he was a slave trader and a murderer.— Michael Walker (@michaeljswalker) June 7, 2020
Historian @DavidOlusoga brilliantly explains why BLM protestors were right to tear down the statue of Edward Colston. pic.twitter.com/F1Zn1G8LVn
Two hundred fifty years of slavery. Ninety years of Jim Crow. Sixty years of separate but equal. Thirty-five years of racist housing policy. Until we reckon with our compounding moral debts, America will never be whole.
I’m reading it for the reasons that most may be. I’m also specifically reading it (in the dead dark of night) in commemoration of of the 99th anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre today.
We definitely need to start a broader discussion about our social and moral conundrum or we’re doomed to continue the same stupid cycle we’ve been experiencing for centuries now. We’re America. We’re better and smarter than this.
This was definitely a long read, so for those who may not have the time, there’s an audio/podcast version you can listen to:
debt peonage ❧
Annotated on May 31, 2020 at 11:51PM
In Cold War America, homeownership was seen as a means of instilling patriotism, and as a civilizing and anti-radical force. “No man who owns his own house and lot can be a Communist,” claimed William Levitt, who pioneered the modern suburb with the development of the various Levittowns, his famous planned communities. “He has too much to do.”But the Levittowns were, with Levitt’s willing acquiescence, segregated throughout their early years. ❧
I’d never heard of the background of these Levittowns, but I’m not super surprised to recall that Bill O’Reilly’s family apparently moved to Levittown, Long Island in 1951. It explains a missing piece I had in his background.
Annotated on June 01, 2020 at 12:53AM
But I believe that wrestling publicly with these questions matters as much as—if not more than—the specific answers that might be produced. An America that asks what it owes its most vulnerable citizens is improved and humane. An America that looks away is ignoring not just the sins of the past but the sins of the present and the certain sins of the future. More important than any single check cut to any African American, the payment of reparations would represent America’s maturation out of the childhood myth of its innocence into a wisdom worthy of its founders. ❧
Annotated on June 01, 2020 at 01:46AM
1/in my research on trials involving enslaved people as property in Southern courtrooms, I read chilling descriptions of violent deaths at a white man’s hands in which a doctor testified that the cause of death was “apoplexy” or heart attack...— Ariela Gross (@arielagross) May 29, 2020
2/...or even the anger of the enslaved man or woman leading to their death, by triggering a heart attack. These were cases of terrible bearings, vicious strangling — yet that was found not to be the cause of death.— Ariela Gross (@arielagross) May 29, 2020
3/ So when the coroner says George Floyd died of an underlying condition plus this and that, and not the full weight of a man on his neck, I know that story.— Ariela Gross (@arielagross) May 29, 2020
4/ The underlying condition is white supremacy.— Ariela Gross (@arielagross) May 29, 2020
The paper's series on slavery made avoidable mistakes. But the attacks from its critics are much more dangerous.
Beginning in the last quarter of the 20th century, historians like Gary Nash, Ira Berlin and Alfred Young built on the earlier work of Carter G. Woodson, Benjamin Quarles, John Hope Franklin and others, writing histories of the Colonial and Revolutionary eras that included African Americans, slavery and race. A standout from this time is Edmund Morgan’s American Slavery, American Freedom, which addresses explicitly how the intertwined histories of Native American, African American and English residents of Virginia are foundational to understanding the ideas of freedom we still struggle with today. ❧
These could be interesting to read.
Annotated on March 07, 2020 at 09:12PM
Scholars like Annette Gordon-Reed and Woody Holton have given us a deeper understanding of the ways in which leaders like Thomas Jefferson committed to new ideas of freedom even as they continued to be deeply committed to slavery. ❧
I’ve not seen any research that relates the Renaissance ideas of the Great Chain of Being moving into this new era of supposed freedom. In some sense I’m seeing the richest elite whites trying to maintain their own place in a larger hierarchy rather than stronger beliefs in equality and hard work.
Annotated on March 07, 2020 at 09:22PM
In the decades after America’s founding and the establishment of the Constitution, did the nation get better, more just, more democratic? Or did it double down on violent conquest and exploitation?
Reported, produced, written, and mixed by John Biewen, with series collaborator Chenjerai Kumanyika. The series editor is Loretta Williams. Interviews with Robin Alario, Edward Baptist, Kidada Williams, and Keri Leigh Merritt.
Music by Algiers, John Erik Kaada, Eric Neveux, and Lucas Biewen. Music consulting and production help from Joe Augustine of Narrative Music.
Photo: Cotton bale, Old Slater Mill Historic Site, Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Photo by John Biewen.
A controversial settlement between the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) has been voided. The settlement, approved in November, would have required UNC to hand over the Confederate monument “Silent Sam” to SCV and pay the group $2.5 mill...