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Records show Johns Hopkins University founder and namesake owned slaves at his Baltimore home

Johns Hopkins.jpg
Posted at 2:00 PM, Dec 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-10 08:12:21-05

BALTIMORE — Records show Johns Hopkins University founder owned slaves at his Baltimore home.

Johns Hopkins University and Medicine stated the institutions' namesake held enslaved people in Baltimore in his home between 1840 and 1850.

It was discovered through research conducted as part of the longstanding Hopkins Retrospective institutional history project.

That's where Johns Hopkins University leaders became aware of census records that listed Hopkins as holding enslaved people.

A university spokesperson said, "the fact that Mr. Hopkins had, at any time in his life, a direct connection to slavery – a crime against humanity that tragically persisted in the state of Maryland until 1864 – is a difficult revelation for us, as we know it will be for our community, especially for our Black faculty, students, staff, alumni and neighbors."

The university said more research is needed to develop a full understanding of Mr. Hopkins life, and many questions remain, including about the enslaved people themselves, and how these revelations relate to Mr. Hopkins’ support for the Union in the Civil War and his instructions that the Johns Hopkins Hospital established in his name should treat indigent patients regardless of race.

Johns Hopkins President Ronald J. Daniels has asked Johns Hopkins University Professor Martha Jones, Society of Black Alumni Presidential Professor and Professor of History and the SNF Agora Institute, to investigate this finding and any other available records to the fullest extent possible.

The university stated this will form a new and important element of work through the ongoing Hopkins Retrospective program and other efforts to document the university’s history.

Central to this effort is an invitation for the entire community and the public to participate in the process of research and truth-seeking.

According to the university, there will be a number of avenues for community participation in the coming days, weeks and months.

Congressman Mfume shared his thoughts on the recent revelations:

“It’s disappointing to learn that Mr. Johns Hopkins, like so many of his contemporaries, owned slaves.

I’m not shocked because we all know that slavery, oppression, deprivation, degradation, denial and disprivilege were always (and unfortunately) the way of American life.

Our charge is to rectify a system that gave us the master-slave ontology and the doctrine of white supremacy that existed before the republic was founded.”