Johns Hopkins, Famous Philanthropist and Abolitionist, Actually Owned Slaves


File photo of people walking on Johns Hopkins University’s Homewood campus in Baltimore.

File photograph of individuals strolling on Johns Hopkins College’s Homewood campus in Baltimore.
Photograph: Patrick Semansky (AP)

Johns Hopkins, the Nineteenth century philanthropist whose identify graces among the most prestigious scientific and tutorial establishments in America, was lengthy regarded as a person who deplored slavery and fought to abolish the possession of human beings within the U.S. However because it seems, Hopkins really owned different individuals over the course of his grownup life, based on new analysis launched by Johns Hopkins College.

“For many of the final century, our establishments believed Johns Hopkins to be an early and staunch abolitionist whose father, a dedicated Quaker, had freed the household’s enslaved individuals in 1807,” Ronald J. Daniels, the president of Johns Hopkins College, wrote in a weblog submit Wednesday.

The supply for the fashionable day perception that Hopkins didn’t personal slaves might be traced to a 1929 guide by Helen Hopkins Thom, a grandniece to Johns Hopkins. The guide, Johns Hopkins: A Silhouette, was revealed by the JHU Press and relied on quite a lot of “household tales” and didn’t cite any sources past the reminiscences of his prolonged household.

Daniels explains that there’s by no means been a definitive historical past written of Hopkins the person and researchers had been tipped off to his possession of individuals by personal people over the summer time. The college appeared into the declare and located slaves listed subsequent to Hopkins in U.S. Census data from the mid-Nineteenth century.

“However over the previous a number of months, analysis being carried out as part of the Hopkins Retrospective has brought on us to query this narrative. We now have authorities census data that state Mr. Hopkins was the proprietor of 1 enslaved particular person listed in his family in 1840 and 4 enslaved individuals listed in 1850. By the 1860 census, there aren’t any enslaved individuals listed within the family,” Daniels wrote in his new weblog submit.

Nonetheless, Johns Hopkins College researchers didn’t embrace copies of the slave schedules, which Gizmodo was capable of finding on

Illustration for article titled Johns Hopkins, Famous Philanthropist and Abolitionist, Actually Owned Slaves

Screenshot: 1850 U.S. Census/

The primary column after the identify of the slave proprietor was the variety of slaves, the second was the age of the slave, the third was the intercourse of the slave, and the fourth column was the “shade” of the slave.

As Daniels notes in his announcement, the identify of the enslaved individuals are not listed within the Census data. However the College has pledged to proceed its work digging into the lifetime of its namesake.

“We’re absolutely dedicated to persevering with this analysis wherever it could lead and to illuminating a path that we hope will deliver us nearer to the reality, which is an indispensable basis for all of our schooling, analysis, and repair actions,” Daniels wrote on Wednesday.

“We’re not alone in endeavor the tough however important work of reckoning with a posh historical past and the legacy of racial injustice,” Daniels continued. “It is a solemn duty and an necessary alternative not solely to hunt fact but additionally to construct a greater, extra simply, and extra equitable future for our establishment and all we serve.”


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