Skip to main content

tv   Discussion Focuses on Slavery Jesuits and Georgetown University  CSPAN  January 16, 2017 9:40pm-11:07pm EST

9:40 pm
and discussions with authors, historians and teachers. during congressional breaks and on holidays, too. for more information visit our web side c-span where history unfold dale. in 1979 kr pan was created and brought to you by cable or satellite provider. georgetown university adam wrot man order and their history
9:41 pm
during the 18th and 19th history. and is the washington d.c. area. he looks at georgetown been fitted from the slave economy in 90 minute memorial lecture is given annually to honor and part of the conference on washington d.c. history. i would like to bebin by thanking the historical society of washington, d.c. for the opportunity to deliver this year's brown lecture. proffer professor brown was champion of the history of washington, d.c. it's a thrill to be honor her work and life in this form. it was moving to hear you're recollection of your grandmother
9:42 pm
and i'm i can't tell you how happy it makes to hear from you that she would appreciate the work we're doing at georgetown. that's the best introduction i have ever gotten the entire time of my life. i appreciate that. i would hope to do her proud. i would like to thank the national archives for hosting us. for all of you for being here in person or perhaps watching the remotely through the magic of youtube or c-span. i appreciate your interest in history. sometimes these days it seems like teaching and learning about history is an uphill battle. we're focused on the present we look forward the future, so few
9:43 pm
pause to reflect on the past and how it shapes who we are today. to see so many people who are here to learn about lift and think about its impact on our world is heartening. college campus especially the venerable once like georgetown, you can see how venble it is. it present very well manicured landscapes of historical memory. the old buildings stand as monuments to the past, even as intier ya is updated. coffee shops. the buildings are named after founders. in truth few know who they were until those founders become imfa
9:44 pm
mouse. start to show signs of blight. i teach history as georgetown university. i teach and right about slavery and right about emancipation largely in the deep south. last year i had a privilege of serving as a member on slavery and reconciliation. the group was formed in september of 2015 at behest of university's president. who asked us to reflect on how georgetown "acknowledge and recognize jorn town's history relationship with the institution of slavery."
9:45 pm
the immediate cause of the formation of the working what promised the president to form in body was the reopening of a newly renovated hall. a hall named at reverend thomas, society of jesus. georgetown yoofrt in 1830s. here is the problem, the scandal with which is now well-known, i hope it's well-known, he orchestrated mass sale of 300 men, women and children who were other thanned by the maryland jesuit in 1838 and used the sale to rescue the college from debt. it's safe to say and shocking to understand
9:46 pm
that georgetown really owes its existence to the sale of those slaves in 1838. the proceeds of that sale saved the college. the president rightly grasp that the moment was ripe for the georgetown community to have a difficult conversation about this history. he did that for many reasons. he understood the moment for many reasons. one of them was the things royal or college campus last year. the student protests against injustice. that was being perpetrated on people of color. but also he knew the history of georgetown and was aware ef its
9:47 pm
roots in the institutions of slavery. i will ad that the new scholarship's book have put issue of slavery in american colleges and universities back into our mental landscape. so we're -- our work builds on the shoulder of scholars and activists and that whole community has helped us to do our work. i want to emphasize that georgetown's history of slavery was never a secret. a small ground of scholars, alumni student have known about this history for a long time. there's
9:48 pm
excellent scholarship on the subject. and i want to applaud the effort of my predecessor who colleague of mine, professor kurn when is retired. he wrote history georgetown published in 1989. he wrote about this 1838 sale and sequences for the collecting. a long time before the working group started its work. in the 1990s study program became to -- in creating a pioneering website called jesuit plantation project that publish some documents, they did well before we did. student journalist matthew wrote about
9:49 pm
georgetown slave holding past in newspapers and period kals. and yet, for all of this, when the working group began its work last year we were surprise to discovery how little we and most people knew about this subject. and how shocking georgetown's link to safery. people did not know the history. so i feel like that is a failure of scholars like myself who have written about this stuff, but have not done enough to get it out to the public, to really have this history penetrate people's consciousness at the university and beyond it. this history in a
9:50 pm
real way was lost to us, buried unnooet the university's landscape of memory. it seems to me the first step is reconcilian is truth. so excavating this history and publicizing it has become one of our key tasks. it's what i've really been devoted to as a member of the working group. now to accomplish that, we've been digging in archives at georgetown where the archives of the maryland province now reside, and archives in other places as well, including right here at the national archives which just has extraordinary material on the history of american slavery. so we've been digging around to find original documents that can shed light on this history. and we're trying to make them available on our website call the slavery archive, today i
9:51 pm
would like to walk you through a handful of these documents to give you a sense of the depth and extent of georgetown's roots in american slavery. and to introduce you to some of the central questions and challenges raised by this material. so we are a gathering of people who are interested in history. so i hope you don't mind if i dwell on the past. it's really what we do. so to begin with this -- to begin with this history, i'm going to go back farther in time to a more distant location than you might expect me to. in the early 1600s, 1610s and 1620s, a jesuit priest named alonzo de sandoval began to minister to newly arrived africans in the port city of cartagena in what is today
9:52 pm
colombia. sandoval worked at the jesuit college there. he was a jesuit 150 years before the founding of georgetown. as he met with sick and dying africans on the docks in cartagena, sandoval began to have some doubts about the morality of the system of slavery that he encountered. he began to ask some pesky questions of his colleagues, jesuits around the atlantic world. like whether those africans he was meeting with in cartagena had been illegally enslaved. a jesuit priest named luis brandao who was stationed across the ocean wrote a letter addressing his concerns, a truly remarkable letter that tried to ease sandoval's conscience. sandoval included the letter in
9:53 pm
a massive thome that he published in seville he published in 1627 called "on restoring ethiopian salvation." there is a title page from that thome on the left and a part of the manuscript on the right i want to tell you about. and i want to thank one of my graduate students, elsa mendoza for finding this for me. it's good to have students. don't worry, father brandaur wrote. wise men of good conscience do not find slavery reprehensible. that's a quotation from the book, from the letter. "rather, the jesuits buy slaves without feeling any guilt, unquote. it was true, he admitted that no black slave, quote, everybody says he deserves to be enslaved,
9:54 pm
unquote. but he warned sandoval not to ask them for their opinions. can you imagine? quote, they will always say they were stolen or taken illegally, hoping that this will help them get their freedom, unquote. so that's why you shouldn't ask them. because they're going to give you an answer you don't like. father brindau concluded that too many souls were saved through enslavement to worry about the few who might actually have been illegally enslaved. and that's right here on this page, the text of the letter. now sandoval bought the argument. he made peace with slavery and devoted his life to saving the souls of the 100,000 captive africans transported to cartagena in the first half of the 17th century. now although it took place a long way from the founding of georgetown, i mention this
9:55 pm
correspondence between sandoval and brandau because it tells us something important about the intellectual, religious, and social world of atlantic slavery that the maryland jesuits came to inhabit. slavery and the atlantic slave trade had long been rationalized by christian arguments that prized salvation over earthly freedom. in fact, the jesuit college in cartagena where sandoval worked went so far as to purchase enslaved africans who served as translators to aid sandoval's missionary efforts. moreover, the attempt to justify slavery required sandoval and his fellow jesuits to dismiss, ignore and ultimately silence captive africans' own protests
9:56 pm
against their enslavement. to listen to them, to take their grievances seriously would have threatened the entire enterprise. the jesuits arrived in maryland in 1634. not long after sandoval published his treaties in seville. i can't say whether they knew about it or not. they probably didn't. but what we do know is that it took decades for slavery to get firmly implanted in maryland. for a half century, indentured servants and tenant farmers from europe supplied the labor needs for the tobacco economy in maryland and the chesapeake. it was not until the end of the 17th century, the 1680s and
9:57 pm
1690s that large numbers of captive africans began to arrive in the colony, and the labor force began to tilt towards slavery. the jesuits, along with other catholics participated in maryland's great transition from servitude to slavery and became in some caseses large slave owners in the first half of the 18th century. the record you're looking at now dates back to that era, what the university of maryland historian ira berlin, one of the great historians of american slavery calls the plantation generation of slavery in colonial north america. now this was a list of slaves who were brought from the jesuits' white marsh plantation in prince georges county to the st. joseph mission in talbot county on the eastern shore. i want to draw your attention to the first name in the list, a
9:58 pm
woman named nanny. do you see it? first name. a woman named nanny. she is identified in this record as a 55-year-old guinea negro. the names are tantalizing. you want to know so much more about who these people are, but there is just so little information. her name was nanny, and she was born in africa around 1710. that's all we know right now. all we really know is what is on that page. nan any the only enslaved person in the maryland province mentioned in the maryland province archives who i've come across so far who is identified as being african-born. and this record is perhaps the
9:59 pm
sole piece of evidence linking the maryland jesuit community to their african origins. the other people on this list were all born in maryland and baptized with english names like tom, frank, and lucy. and like most of the slaves named in the maryland province archives, their last names are not recorded. all of this i think are symptoms of what the sociologist orlando patterson calls the natal alienation of slavery, the cutting off of people from their ancestry. from the first indications of jesuit slave holding in maryland in the 17 henrys, the jesuit plantation continued to grow across the 18th century. a census in 1765 taken by a jesuit counted nearly 200 slaves on the jesuit plantations. the plantations were primarily located in southern maryland in
10:00 pm
st. mary's county and charles county. but there are also missions and plantations farther north and on the eastern shore. the suppression of the jesuits in the 1770s posed new challenges for the catholic leadership in the colony, and new organizational forms emerged to steward the jesuit order's property and slaves, including the corporation of roman catholic clergymen. georgetown college was founded to advance catholic education in the new united states in the 1789. and it was established by maryland -- the maryland catholic planter elite and the jesuit order that was deeply invested in slavery at the local level. and the basic idea was that the jesuit plantations would help to pay for the churches and the schools. so georgetown rests on the foundation of a slave economy.
10:01 pm
now the jesuits and their catholic congregants were not the only people in maryland to draw inspiration from the ideals of the american revolution. and it was really to prove that there was a place for catholics in this new republic that georgetown was founded. it seems that the jesuits' own slaves also drew inspiration from the ideals of the american revolution and thought that the principles of freedom and equality articulated by the revolution should apply to them. in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, a number of slaves belonging to jesuit owners, including owners closely affiliated with georgetown sued
10:02 pm
in local courts for their freedom. three families in particular, the butlers, the mahoneys, and the queens took their owners to court. in some cases were successful. one of these seekers was a man named edward queen who filed this complaint against reverend john ashton with the general court of the western shore in 1791. i don't know from where you're sitting if you can read the handwriting in this petition, but i assure you this is among the more legible documents that we have encountered. and i should add as well that this document comes from a wonderful website created by university of nebraska professor william thomas.
10:03 pm
:00 these various freedom suits in the early republic. this is an example of the kind of collaboration and other people's scholarship that we have really benefitted from. so if you can read this petition, queen is claiming his freedom on the basis of descent of mary queen who was his grandmother. much like those africans in cartagena, edward queen claimed to be illegally enslaved. but on this case he was heard and he won his case in the maryland courts in 1794. queen was a member of what he calls the revolutionary generation of american slaves. and he is also part of the moment of transition in the
10:04 pm
chesapeake post after the american revolution when there is a brief window of opportunity for enslaved people to make their way to freedom. this is a moment when the population of free people of color begin to expand tremendously. and i'll add that one of the pioneering historians of free people of color in this region was letitia woods brown. but it's worth noting that granting queen his freedom on the narrow ground of his free-born grandmother -- let me remind you that in the law of slavery, in maryland, most other places in americas, the children of enslaved women were also shlaes. so status followed the mother. not only did their status follow the mother, not only would the
10:05 pm
children of slave women be slaved, but they would be on the other hand by their mother's owner. but if your mother is free, you by rights should be free as well. that's the basis for edward queen's claim to freedom. but in granting queen his freedom on this relatively narrow ground of his free-born grandmother, the courts also implicitly confirmed the enslavement of other enslaved people who not co. not establish their birthright in court. so you can see here the powers that be in the slave society trying to make up rules by which slavery would be governed. that was a legal institution that operated by certain rules. now reverend ashton for his part was an irish born jesuit who was stationed for many years at the jesuit plantation in prince georges county.
10:06 pm
he is listed in the census with 82 slaves next to his name, one of the biggest planters in the region. he also happened to be a founder of the corporation of roman catholic clergymen and one of the first directors of georgetown college. it's really remarkable how many connections to slavery turn up in the early records of the college itself. the first college ledgers which record the students coming into the college and paying for room and board. their expense. one was named suki. she was hired to the college by her owner, william diggs for ten pounds a year, from 1792 to 1797. it was the use of hiring and renting slaves. the father recorded daily life at the college noted the presence of 13, quote, colored persons. that's how he described them in
10:07 pm
his journal, out of 101 people in all. at the college in 1813. so 13% of the people at the college in 1813 were slaves. who they were or what they did he failed to mention, but a later entry in his journal records the burial of a man that he calls billy the blacksmith, probably a slave who was buried in the college graveyard in a ceremony attended by many of the students. holy trinity church next to georgetown record slaves getting baptized and married right next door to the campus. and william gaston, georgetown's first acclaimed student -- at georgetown, many of our grand lectures and occasions are held in gaston hall. gaston came from a wealthy slave owning family in north carolina. he went on to become a
10:08 pm
distinguished judge on the north carolina supreme court ruling in one case that a slave had a right to life, and in another that free people of color could be citizens of his state. so those two rulings were remarkably progressive for a north carolina jurist before the civil war. i think it's important to understand that the significance of the use of slave labor at georgetown and its close ties to slavery are not just an economic question, although they certainly are, but there's something deeper going on here. it's about the way these institutions, churches and schools shape the moral order of society, the normative order of society. so if people add george town, the faculty and the presidents of georgetown are routinely buying and selling slaves, hiring slaves, what does that
10:09 pm
say to everybody else? it says that this is a perfectly reasonable, perfectly normal, perfectly moral institution. i think you cannot underestimate the ideological effect of the participation of a place like georgetown or the jesuit order in slave holding. one slave at georgetown in these early years was a man named isaac who ran away from the college during the war of 1812, in january of 1814. father mcilroy advertised his escape in a washington newspaper, as you can see here. this is a runaway slave ad in
10:10 pm
which there are thousands and thousands and thousands in american newspapers. but this happens to be one posted by a jesuit who was working at georgetown college. it says he offered a $30 reward for the return of isaac, who ran away from georgetown college on saturday night, the 29th instant, a negro man named isaac about 23 years old, quite black complexion, about 5'8" high. so the advertisement gives a physical description of isaac, tells the readers what he was wearing when he fled and speculate he's probably got a change of clothing with him. it also notes that isaac could read and may have procured a pass to allow him to move freely about the countryside. it guessed he might be on his way to pennsylvania, a freer state in 1814 than maryland was.
10:11 pm
understand even if -- even if isaac had gotten to maryland, that wouldn't make him free. under the fugitive slave clause of the constitution he was still bound to service and could be returned to the college. these runaway ads are very one sided. we only get the perspective of the owner and in most cases you have no idea what actually happened, but in this case the mcelroy's journal actually fills out some of the details. it turns out isaac was captured and thrown in jail in baltimore, and reverend neil, one of mcelroy's colleagues sold him as punishment. there was not much mercy shown to isaac. once the war of 1812 included, concluded and the society of
10:12 pm
jesus was restored after the era of suppression, the jesuits began to wrestle with the problem of slavery. but they did not exactly wrestle with it in an abolitionist way, the may we might want or expect them to have wrestled with it. a jesuit brother joseph mogerly wrote a letter to the president of georgetown in february of 1815 to propose getting rid of the slaves, either by selling them off or freeing them. quote, it is better to sell for a time or to set your people free, he wrote. and these were his reasons. first, because we have their souls to answer for. second, because blacks are more difficult to govern now than formerly and maybe had isaac and edward queen in mind. and third, because we shall make more and more to our satisfaction.
10:13 pm
and what followed in this letter was a careful comparison to the cost of slave labor with the cost of hiring white laborers and moberliy concluded that the shift to using free white workers would provide substantial savings to the jesuits. for the next 20 years the maryland jesuits grappled over whether to sell their human property, to free them or to simply maintain the status quo. one jesuit proposed freeing them and sending them to liberia, a newly created haven for freed slaves in west africa. by the 1830s the jesuit plantations were becoming increasingly unprofitable. slavery was coming under attack from a rising abolitionist movement, and georgetown itself
10:14 pm
had fallen on hard times. a building spree saddled the college with debt. so under the leadership of reverend thomas maldi, the maryland jesuits made a fateful decision to sell most of their slaves to two catholic planters in louisiana, henry johnson and jessie beatty. henry johnson had been the governor of louisiana so this is not an insignificant person. they agreed to sell the slaves to johnson and beatty for $115,000 in 1838 money, which depending how you count is at a minimum about $3 million today. they made sure to sell to catholic owners so as not to betray their religious obligation to care for the slaves' souls. that was one of the conditions that was put on the sale by the
10:15 pm
church in rome that wasn't too happy about it. but they did not ask the slaves whether they would like to be sold to louisiana, which was notorious to black people in the upper south for being akin to a death sentence. i should say that some of these documents can be very tough to take. i mean, i show them to you because i think it's important to confront directly the evidence of slavery in the historical record, but i do recognize that they can be very difficult to look at. it turns out the 1838 sale is one of the most richly
10:16 pm
documented mass sales of slaves in american history. the records offer an unusual window into the domestic slave trade and the uprooting and transplantation of virtually an entire slave community from the upper south to the deep south. historians estimate that roughly a million slaves, a million men, women, and children were subjected to forced migration between 1790 and 1860 in the united states. transportation from the upper south to the deep south. some went by land, trekking hundreds of miles. others were boarded on to steam boats and literally sold down the river. the maryland jesuit slaves went by a coastal route. they sailed from the chesapeake to new orleans. a voyage that took a week or
10:17 pm
two. some historians refer to it as the second middle passage. now, it's hard to wrap your head around a number like a million. it's a big number. you can only think about it in an abstract way. so i think it's the stories of individuals like solomon northrup, or families and communities like the maryland jesuit slaves that allow us to grasp the trauma of that second middle passage on a human scale. now this 1838 sale is documented in several ways. maldy signed a contract in june of 1838 agreeing to sale 282 slaves and the terms of the sale are laid out as well, financial transaction. later that year malady parcelled out the slaves to beatty and johnson, and three additional
10:18 pm
bills of sale identified the people who would be sold to johnson and those who would be sold to beatty. there were still other transactions because some of the jesuit slaves were married to slaves of nonjesuits. and the jesuits were under orders from rome not to separate families. so what to do about this situation. the jesuits appear to have sold some of their own slaves to the owners of their slaves' spouses and purchased other spouses to send with their own slaves to louisiana. we're still piecing that part together. before the sale the jesuits took a census of 272 slaves slated to be sold identifying them by family groups and the plantations where they lived,
10:19 pm
newtown, st. inigo's, white marsh and st. thomas manor. this particular bill of sale is from thomas malady to jessie beatty. you can see, if you can read -- this is actually a very legible -- very legible script. you can see that most -- most of the people listed in this contract are identified only by their first name, a few last names are included, such as the first name on this contract nace butler, the first name on the third line at the right. nace butler, 50 years of age, bibby, she is naca's butler's wife. and the numbers that fall, caroline, basil, march martha anne, anne, gabe, biby, tom,
10:20 pm
justin and rose are all the biby's children. it was a descendant of naca and biby's butler who has a real talent for genealogy who first discovered her own family history in these records more than one decade ago. and the work that patricia johnson did tracking her own family history has been a real inspiration and a source of knowledge for those of us at georgetown working on this history. the 1838 sale involved families that had been formed over multiple generations. they had been in maryland for a long time, more than 100 years in many cases. and now they were being uprooted and sent to a strange distant place. another very important document in tracing the movement of the
10:21 pm
maryland jesuit slaves from the chesapeake to the deep south is this document, which is the top of a manifest, the vessel called the katherine jackson, which sailed from alexandria to new orleans in late 1898, carrying many of the maryland jesuit slaves on board. the original of this manuscript is located in fort worth and i want to take this opportunity to thank the archivists there for working with us to locate this document and digitize it. one of the important features of this manifest is that it recorded a lot more last names for the jesuit slaves than one can find in the jesuits' own recordkeeping. i've heard a lot over the past
10:22 pm
year of how great the jesuit recordkeeping was and i'm here to tell you it wasn't that great. they could have done a better job and a number of things, but one of the things that's really built into the jesuit recordkeeping is a failure to record the last names of the slaves. we know they have them from other -- from subsequent records like the manifest and records in louisiana, but those last names in most cases will not appear in the jesuits' own records. but those last names included butler and diggs and hawkins and hill. and merrick and plowden and queen and scott and many others. and those of you who are from this area may recognize many of those names as a common names in this region. common names among african-americans. that's because the community was
10:23 pm
divided. there were people who were slaves and people who were free who shared these names and these histories. but the sale in 1838 picks up the jesuit slave community and pulls it out of that context and plops them down in louisiana. now, in many cases in the history of the domestic slave trade it's difficult, very difficult, if not entirely impossible, to trace slaves sold in the upper south to their destinations in the deep south. although there are literally tens of thousands of enslaved people recorded on these ship manifests in the national archives and a lot of them have been digitized, you can search these manifests, figuring out what happened to them once they
10:24 pm
got off these boats is tough to do. that's another reason why this case, the georgetown case of the maryland jesuit slave community is so valuable for historical research because we know where they ended up. at least many of them. not all of them, but many of them. some ended up on henry johnson's chatham plantation in ascension parish, louisiana, while many others ended up on beatty's west oak plantation in louisiana. so we know where they ended up. moreover, we know that their experience of being bought and sold continued in louisiana up to the civil war. so 1838 was not the last time these people were sold. henry johnson fell into financial difficulty shortly after purchasing all of these slaves and he had to renegotiate the terms of his purchase in the 1840s and 1850s.
10:25 pm
that money is sloshing around jesuit and georgetown coffers for decades. it's another thing they weren't that great about keeping records on. ultimately henry johnson sold his plantation i believe in 1850s to a man -- i'm not making this up. he was named john thompson. i don't think any relation. the batey slaves were sold at least two more times as the plantation passed to batey's heirs after he died. in the 1850s. beatty's heirs sold to it the barrow family in 1853, and the barrows sold to it the willfolks in 1856. on the eve of emancipation, the plantation was in the possession of a woman named emily wofolk in louisiana. she was the widow of one of the most infamous domestic slave traders in american history.
10:26 pm
the records allow us to trace many, but not all, of the maryland jesuit slaves into the era of emancipation. some of them and their children appear in the 1870 census. once you can find people in the 1870 census it becomes much easier to trace them through the standard methods of genealogy. the problem is for many african-americans trying to trace their ancestors back to the days of slavery, 1870 becomes a brick wall because the census didn't identify enslaved people by name, just their owners. there are these slave schedules in the 1850 and 1860 census that actually count the number of
10:27 pm
slaves owned by each owner. but the slaves are only listed by number, not by name. only by number, not by name. so you have to go to records like the once i've showed you, property records, baptismal records if they exist to try to trace genealogy back to the days of slavery. so these are the kinds of records that have made it possible for the descendants of the maryland jesuit slave community to be discovered and for them to come to know their own history as has been happening for the last several months. but this particular document that you're looking at now -- i apologize for the -- this is definitely unreadable to all of us. but this is -- this is from a digital scan of a microfilm of
10:28 pm
documents here at the national archives in the freedman's bureau records, which is one of the most extraordinary sets of records in all of american history, documenting that moment, that process of emancipation. so the document you're looking at now is a payroll record that was filed with the freedman's bureau in louisiana at the end of 1865. and this is a payroll record for newly freed people on the west oak plantation in iberville parish. at least some of these people were members of the maryland jesuit slave community and their children. but they're no longer slaves here. they're in fact recorded as freed men or men and women. in this record, this record actually records their wages for
10:29 pm
the year 1865, an indication they are now getting paid for their work. this is an image of what freedom looks like in 1865. is it real freedom? how free were they? these are the kinds of questions that we can begin to ask. back to georgetown. georgetown college and the maryland jesuits continued to be involved with slavery after 1838 despite the sale of most of the slaves to louisiana. not all of the jesuit slaves were sent to louisiana. some managed to escape being sold literally by escaping. an 1867 census of slaves emancipated in maryland shows
10:30 pm
one family of slaves in st. mary's parish headed by a woman named louisa mason who was owned by the corporation of roman catholic clergymen. i think they're the last of the maryland jesuit slaves. slaves continued to provide labor at the college and students from slave-owning families continued to attend georgetown. georgetown college's southern orientation explains why the majority of georgetown students and alumni who fought in the civil war fought for -- guess which side? the confederacy. they fought for a short-lived nation whose cornerstone was slavery. it was really after the war that georgetown's ties to slavery got buried in the landscape of memory. i'll give you two examples of this. one is in the career of the man
10:31 pm
on the left, reverend patrick healy of the society of jesus known as georgetown's second founder. healy served as a president of georgetown from 1872 to -- 1874 to 1882 and helped to build several new buildings on campus. healy was born into slavery. he was the son of an irish cotton planter in georgia and a slave woman. his father recognized his paternity of him and his siblings. healy was sent to a catholic school in the north and ultimately entered the jesuit order where he rose to prominence to the position of president of georgetown. but essentially he passed for white as the jesuits had to conceal his ancestry from the public.
10:32 pm
he recently -- his ancestry wasn't really discovered and made public until scholars figured it out in the beginning of the 1950s, upon which time he was claimed of the first african-american president of a predominantly white university. he's celebrated in this way at georgetown, even though very few people at the time knew he was not white. so we can also see this burial of the history of slavery in georgetown's school colors, the blue and the gray. those colors were actually chosen by georgetown's crew team in the auspicious year of 1876, a year that marked the end of reconstruction.
10:33 pm
they chose those colors as a sign of sectional reconciliation between northern and southern students. this is the -- this is on the georgetown university library's web page. this is i believe georgetown's alma mater that was written for the occasion of the 1876 unveiling of the colors. and today georgetown, these are our colors. i mean, i'm wearing blue and gray right now. this is georgetown. but we know that sectional reconciliation, the union of blue and gray after the civil war was purchased at the expense of the rights of african-americans. and the memory of the politics of slavery. so white -- white -- white students from the north and south, they could really only
10:34 pm
reconcile with each other if they all forgot about that problem with slavery, which is why they were fighting in the first place. the first black undergraduate at georgetown was not admitted until 1950. his name was samuel halsey jr. so think of it. for 150 years white students were admitted to georgetown, walked through all the doors of opportunity that their education opened up to them, while black students were excluded, despite the fact that georgetown virtually owes its existence to slave labor. i think compared to that reality healy's imperceptible blackness is little consolation. so my modest proposal going forward, georgetown's colors should be blue, gray, and black. so what now?
10:35 pm
where do we go from here? my walking tour through the archives is concluding. so we worked on this -- we worked on this history. we worked on uncovering this history, building the slavery archive, getting the story out to the georgetown community, hearing from members of our community about what this history meant to them, gathering knowledge from scholars of slavery and emancipation and african-american history about what all this meant, including professor wilder from mit. so we gathered all this knowledge and tried to figure out what do we do to come to terms with this history. so we wrote up a report, this working group that was composed of students and faculty and staff and alumni of a diverse group of people and we came up with a report. this is the report. an elegant little document. it's available on georgetown
10:36 pm
university's slavery memory and reconciliation website, it lays out much of this history and provides a series of recommendations and rationales for how we should proceed. it suggest, for instance, we remake that landscape of memory on campus in part by renaming mulady and mccherry halls, the two residents responsible for the sale of the slaves. students protested in the fall and georgetown changed the names at that time to freedom and remembrance hall until we could come up with something better. so the working group recommended that one of the hall, mullady hall be named after an enslaved man named isaac, who is the first person listed in the articles of agreement. so he symbolizes that maryland
10:37 pm
jesuit slave community that was sacrificed to save georgetown. we also know that isaac was the patriarch of the hawkins family, multiple generations that were sold and transported to louisiana. so we know something about isaac. the second building we recommended to be named after -- it was a truly remarkable women named ann marie beecraft, an african-american who became a nun in the 1820s and 1830s, was a real pioneer in the education of african american women in georgetown. not at georgetown college where they were excluded, but outside the gates. she has largely been forgotten, but she ought to be remembered. one of the great african-american historians of the 19th century called her one of the most remarkable people to
10:38 pm
live in the city, so we should remember her. we want to do that. we want to create a memorial to slavery at georgetown that will be an enduring moment to that history. we want to create historical plaques around campus that expose this history, excavate it, so it's no longer buried. we want to continue this research on slavery and its legacies. we have this incredible archive, which the scholars and public can use to work through so many different aspects of the history of slavery. the georgetown story is really a microcosm of the whole history of slavery and emancipation in the united states, as we can see through one community. the working group recommended outreach to the descendants of the maryland jesuit slave community, both those who were
10:39 pm
sent to louisiana and those who might have remained behind. and really, one of the great joys of the work that we've been engaged in is to get to know these people, to help them recover their family histories, to hear their perspective on what this history means to them. we've had some groups come to georgetown. i've been with them in the special collections where they look at these documents in person and find the names of their ancestors. that's for me has been a really remarkable experience. i think for a long time i'm an academic, i write about things that happened a long time ago. for me what this has done i think has sort of collapsed the distance between the past and the present and make it all the more meaningful.
10:40 pm
so part of the recommendations was an institution apology. we're sorry for having participated in this inhumane kind of institution. apologies may not be worth that much, but if you back them up i think with substantial gestures of contrition and reconciliation then maybe they do mean something. finally, i would say that and ultimately the goal is that examining this history, thinking about it and reflecting upon it will be an inspiration for all of us to search out our own moral blind spots where what are we failing to recognize today in the way the university conducts its business, the way we conduct our business.
10:41 pm
in what ways are we repeating the mistakes of the leadership of the georgetown 150 years ago. not exactly the same, but our own mistakes that come out of a failure of moral imagination and especially with respect to the enduring legacies of slavery and racist discrimination today, racism and racist forms of injustice in our own backyard and further afield. ultimately for me i think the tremendous -- one of the tremendous values of doing this work over the past year is just to see the tremendous response from members of the georgetown community, from descendants and from the public and all of you showing up here today to listen
10:42 pm
to me ramble through this history. i think what it shows, what it can show, ultimately is that history really does matter. so thank you for listening. [ applause ] so are there questions? if you have a question, please come to one of the microphones so that everybody can hear you. should we start over there? >> good afternoon. i'd like to thank you for the work that you've done on this project.
10:43 pm
i've been doing a lot of reading lately that says that the trauma of slavery is in the dna of african-americans today and i'd like to acknowledge that tonight. i also would like to say that you asked how this information couldn't be known. i suggest tonight that even in the information age we're in today and with the elections upon us, there's information that we still don't know. so how -- and my question to you is, how was it for you working on this project and what kind of feelings did you experience doing the research? >> thank you for that question.
10:44 pm
i had a range of feelings and emotions as i engaged in this work. the first was a sense of terror that was born out of a sense to a real desire to get this history right. especially as it became more and more of a public kind of enterprise, as newspaper article and "the new york times" were starting to write about it, i recognized that there were a lot of people looking very closely at the work that we were doing, and that puts a lot of pressure on you as a scholar. and you just really, really want to get it right. so that was part of it. just curiosity is another. i think curiosity is an
10:45 pm
important quality for my historian or really any thinking person to have. you want to know how do i make sense of this? how is it possible that the jesuit leaders of georgetown could baptize their slaves one day and sell them the next? how do you make sense of that apparent paradox? so there's a kind of curiosity to know how did this happen and what was going through their heads. and an even greater curiosity to know what it meant for the slaves themselves. was there any way through the records we had available to get at their perspective, which so hidden in the records. that's one reason why it's been so amazing to get to know some of the descendants because they have family history. they have family lore, especially those who remained in maryland, the descendants of louisa mason, for instance.
10:46 pm
they always knew their family's connection to the jesuits. their family continued to have connection to the jesuits after emancipation. that is not so much in the records, but it's in their family lore. so being able to learn that was really just heartening and very gratifying. so automatic of those are part of the emotions i felt as a scholar pursuing this history. >> hi. amandis. i am a perspective student from the department of history. i'd like to ask if other plantations, if the slaves were worked as domestic slaves, and if the jesuits hired out slaves for the washington society, and if you have records of that. >> yeah.
10:47 pm
so the slaves in the maryland jesuit community and at the college performed a very wide range of labor. out on the plantations they performed agricultural work, but there were also artisans, there were carpenters and blacksmiths and the managers of those plantations actually hired out their labor to their neighbors. for instance, women, especially around campus worked as laundresses and cooks. it's interesting the college renting out slaves. it wasn't so much that the college rented its slaves to its neighbors in georgetown, it's that georgetown neighbors rented their slaves to the college. so there's also that relationship between the college and the neighborhood around georgetown. this is a little -- this is not
10:48 pm
part of that story, but if any of you don't know the story of a man named yaro mammut, who lived in the neighborhood of georgetown just blocks away from the college, it's an incredible story. he was an -- he was born in africa. transported through the slave trade to the chesapeake. lived in the neighborhood of georgetown. he was a brick maker and actually managed to earn enough money as a brick maker to purchase his own freedom. then he lived as a free person on volta place, actually loaning money to neighbors in georgetown. he was renowned as a devout muslim. so muslims have been around for a long time in this country. his portrait was actually painted more than once and he's one of the faces of the african-american community in georgetown that -- it's a remarkable story.
10:49 pm
it's just another indication that there's so many stories that we still have to tell. that one has been told. >> i went to georgetown. i graduated in '62. i slept in healy hall, and i've been to gaston hall. but when i was at georgetown, everybody had to take large amounts of philosophy. and we -- i can remember my senior year we had five times a week we had ethics. and i'm trying to -- there's a certain incon gruns i see here. >> yeah, you think. >> and i'm wondering does the
10:50 pm
georgetown ethics department now look at this situation and discuss it with -- does the university talk about this -- we had to take ethics because we were going to be ethical people. and the university doesn't seem like it's behaved ethically. >> it didn't. but one of the -- one of our hopes coming out of this project is that across the university people will integrate and absorb this history into their classes. no matter what they teach. theology. philosophy. economics. business. performing arts.
10:51 pm
every discipline can think about this history in its own way. and that is beginning to happen. there are several courses planned for next semester that are really engaged with this history. and i think across the university community people are talking about it. not just joggers in rockby park. that was great to hear. but across the university. this is precisely the type of history that can sharpen our understanding of what it means to be ethical. so i appreciate that, and i really appreciate that comment. >> thank you so much for sharing your research. i have two quick questions. first you joked about john thompson being one of the slave owners who bought the slaves but i wonder if john thompson the coach has commented on the issue at all. and also, historically, georgetown the neighborhood has actually had a large
10:52 pm
african-american population, even -- not so much right now. i'm wondering if the community over the years has known and recognized this history while the university itself may have been quiet. >> yeah, great. i don't know what coach has said about this. i know that coach thompson was at the event at gaston hall on september 1st. so they are surely aware and the students on the team are very aware of this history as all of the students at georgetown now are. what was the second question? >> just if the community of georgetown, itself. >> yeah, okay. now, one of my colleagues in the history department, professor maurice jackson, who actually knows a great deal more about the history of washington than i do, he was very involved in a
10:53 pm
book project called "black georgetown remembered," which is a terrific book. and anybody who has any interest 2349 african-american history of washington i think would enjoy and appreciate that book. but that book talks about georgetown as an african-american community going back to the era of slavery. so again, there are people who know this history. i don't know if most of the people who live in georgetown today know that history. but it's something we could all learn. >> i guess that considering for 40 years of the period that you covered the society of jesus didn't exist per se, is it may be hard to answer this question, but in the document of the queens petition it looks to be a
10:54 pm
priest. and i don't know if he was episcopalian or catholic, and if he was catholic, would he be a jesuit and i am imagine that he was not good friends with a father adams afterwards, and it was in latin and i could not make it out. diggs of course is a major prince george county family. so i am wondering if we know how much we know about protesting, protesting catholics, especially given the vows of obedience to rome and to baltimore what kind of -- what do we know about their conflict. this guy seems to be someone on the side of mr. queen. if i was dealing with petitions like, this that's what i might conclude. so what do we know about priests who found themselves on the opposite side of the establishment? >> great, thank you. yeah, the witness here is reverend thomas diggs, another catholic previous. i have to say that reverend ashton was -- seemed to have been a bit of an oddball, an outcast from his fellow jesuits. and as far as i know there is no
10:55 pm
building in georgetown named after ashton. he is sort of buried in the landscape of memory as well. so i don't know what was going on exactly with reverend diggs and ashton, and so i will say that. professor will thomas in nebraska has really done great work on these freedom suits. there's been some scholarship on them. the key family, for instance, was very involved as lawyers on behalf of the slaves. that's an interesting side note. but i think it is really important to note that there is a big debate within the jesuit community in the 1820s and 1830s about what to do about slavery. that debate had a lot of dimensions to it. the american-born jesuits seemed to be more comfortable with
10:56 pm
slavery than the european jesuits. so that was a dimension of the debate. there were those who didn't think the slaves should be sold but didn't think they should be freed either. they thought the jesuits had a responsibility to be stewards for the souls of their slaves, and that meant keeping them as slaves. but there were other jesuits who did champion schemes for emancipation. joseph carberry, for instance-s known to have proposed a scheme of gradual emancipation over a term of years that would have turned the slaves into free tenant farmers on the jesuit properties. so there is a big and very interesting debate among the jesuits about what should be done. thomas meld is called back to rome after the sale because they're pretty -- the church leadership is pretty unhappy with what he did. mostly because it's discovered that he uses the proceeds of the sale to pay oft debt of the
10:57 pm
college, which is one of the things rome explicitly said he should not do. so they weren't happy with that. but then mullody is rehabilitated i guess and is sent back to the states where he then pounds holy cross, i believe. there are really no particularly vocal protests, public protests against the sale from within the jesuit or catholic community that we know of. it does appear that carberry might have actually harbored louisa mason and her family to keep them from being sold to louisiana. the details of that are a bit murky. but there was a debate about it. >> good evening, and thank you, professor rothman, for this tremendous work you're doing. i also appreciate your desire to get it right. it is a very important work. with that said, you stated that
10:58 pm
one of the objectives of the georgetown memory project is outreach to descendants, and you mentioned the work of patricia bayonne-johnson and i've read some articles, "new york times," "washington post," and there were statements at the end of the article if you believe you're a descendant please contact us. i wanted to know what efforts are being made by the university to initiate that contact. you mentioned that your claegd worked from 1989, this story has been known for years, the 1838 sale in particular, but the story wasn't really well known. so aside from academicians knowing and other people in this community, the actual descendants of the maryland
10:59 pm
jesuit slave community, what is the university doing to reach out to them? >> well, a few things. maybe not everything we should be doing. but a few things. but one is by creating these websites, the georgetown slavery archives and the slavery memoriy reconciliation website, that's a vehicle for people to contact us who think they might be descendants. so we've gotten a lot of inquiries from people. wanting to know if they have a -- if they're descendants how to find that out, that sort of thing. so i think these websites have been part of that outreach trying to do events like this and talk to journalists in different places, southern maryland and louisiana, that
11:00 pm
might reach that public. just trying to get the story out there so more and more people who think they might have some intuiti intuition, some sense in family history that they might be connected can reach out to us. there is the separate entity called the georgetown memory project which is actually independent from what the university's doing. that was set up by alumnus richard celini. and they've been doing a lot gener general yalogical research. celini reached out to desce descendan descendants. he's continuing his work. we're collaborating with them trying to put out more and more documents that can help people face these histories. so that's basically what we're doing. >> thank you.
11:01 pm
>> and if anybody's watching out there on youtube or c-span, if you recognize -- if your name is one of the last names that i've mentioned or you see in the documents, you know, if you are from one of the counties in southern maryland or one of the parishes in louisiana where these folks ended up, if you think you might have a connection, please do reach out to us and we can help you find that out. >> really excellent scholarship. thank you very much. my question has to do with how easy or difficult was it as an archivist going through these records if someone at the university of nebraska who has a separate set of scholarly research is going on, maryland and georgetown now, how easy or difficult has it been to collect this information? it seems you've had to go quite far afield to find these documents. thank you.
11:02 pm
>> thanks. you really asked a question that's near and dear to my heart. you ask a historian where they get their sources, it's like wow, the skies open up. sun shines down. so the first place is in georgetown's own archives. the maryland province archives which are the archives of the society of jesus in maryland. 130 boxes of material. plus there's other boxes of connected archives. it's a lot of stuff. luckily they're finding aids and extant scholarship that cites sources so we can locate some of the most relevant material right there at georgetown. but even just going through the material at georgetown is a pretty big endeavor. and luckily there's a bunch of us, a lot of students in the history department and archiveists in the library who are combing through that stuff.
11:03 pm
but that's not where everything is. i think i've shown you a bit where some of that other stuff is. we've used material here at the national archives, the ship manifest, freedman's bureau records. a lot of the material is in archives in louisiana courthouses. where else? courthouses. we just try to cast a wide net. and anytime you smell a potential source you've got to go chase it down. we're just beginning. and i think we're really just scratching the surface of all the sources that are really available to research this history. we really haven't even gotten into the post-civil war period very far and what happened to these families afterwards. so it's a big project that required a lot of partners and a lot of different places.
11:04 pm
and to me that's been one of the most interesting parts to it, just sort of chasing down these sources. and finding partners who can help us do that. and i should add that the written -- that the document archive is never sufficient. we have to supplement what's been written down with things like the oral history of descendant families which tell us things that will never appear in archives and give us a perspective that we'll never get any other way. so we have to complement the documentary record with other ways of getting at historical truth. that's an important dimension of this project. >> hi. any name is ruth trocoli. ienl the archaeologist for washds washed. and that was a perfect lead-in for my question because i'm a big proponent that archaeological evidence is an
11:05 pm
additional and parallel record to the written documentation. and it's through the archaeology that we can give the voice to the voiceless through the material remains that they left behind. but that's not actually what i came up here to say. i was one of the founding directors for the search for yera mamut, the archaeological project you mentioned in georgetown. [ applause ] thank you. there's a session saturday at 12:15. i'm sure i'll be there. but one of the outcomes of that project is i'm working with a scholar, or the whole team is working with a scholar who's a student at howard university, a ph.d. candidate, and his name is mohammed abdur-rahman. and when you talked about the rationalization of the jesuits for slavery, mohammed is working in the archives, the islamic archives in morocco, and he has encountered a similar parallel
11:06 pm
explanation or rationalization for slavery there. and he is looking at letters from enslaved africans who were brought here and were literate in arabic and wrote back to the caliphate asking for relief from slavery. and their response was basically you are free in your mind and make peace with it. so in a sense the rationalization is coming because of the economic aspects. no one wants to start buying the freedom of these slaves, whether they were muslims or not. and it gives you a whole different perspective on what slavery is and ow thhow that wo in the world system, which is an unexpected result of digging on a vacant property in georgetown. thank you. >> thank you. [ applause ]


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on