The University of Baltimore, which has been at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19, boasted that the founder was an abolitionist. However, new research findings show that Johns Hopkins was in fact a slave owner.
Johns Hopkins University announced Wednesday that its founder owned slaves, a revelation for a Baltimore university that prided itself on his freedom-mindedness as a staunch abolitionist. Researchers found other information in state census records as part of an initiative to study the university’s history. The long-established account of the abolitionist Hopkins, whose father freed the family slaves in 1807, has since been challenged.
“We now have state census records showing that Hopkins was the owner of at least one enslaved man. A slave lived in his home in 1840, and 10 years later he had 4 slaves registered. The 1860 census showed no enslaved people in the household,” said Ronald J. Daniels, president of the school.
The school will continue to research Hopkins’ life in the coming months to “have a complete picture,” since a complete biography of the university’s founder does not exist.
Hopkins died in 1873 and left $7 million to start the university, an orphanage and a hospital. At the time, this donation was considered the largest charitable gift in the United States. Today the school has about 27,000 students and 29 Nobel laureates among its researchers.