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Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation at Lauinger Library
This guide highlights the primary source documents at Lauinger Library that supports the goals of Georgetown University's Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation Initiative.
This brief highly readable history brings out the regional and ethnic diversity of the Catholic experience in British America during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Historian Robert Emmett Curran begins his account with the English reformation, which helps us to understand the Catholic exodus from England, Ireland, and Scotland that took place over the nearly two centuries that constitute the colonial period. The deeply rooted English understanding of Catholics as enemies of the political and religious values at the heart of British tradition, ironically acted as a catalyst for the emergence of a Catholic republican movement that was a critical factor in the decision of a strong majority of American Catholics in 1775 to support the cause for independence.
Within this comprehensive multi-volume history of Georgetown University, R. Emmett Curran discusses the decision of the Jesuits under the leadership of Thomas Mulledy, S.J., and William McSherry, S.J., to sell more than 272 people to cover the debts of fledgling Georgetown College. This account explores the debates over slavery between Maryland-born and European Jesuits, the conditions laid out by the Jesuit General in Rome, the repercussions of the sale upon the order, and the extent of student support for slavery and the Confederacy.
Georgetown's little-known black heritage shaped a Washington, DC, community long associated with white power and privilege. Black Georgetown Remembered reveals a rich but little-known history of the Georgetown black community from the colonial period to the present. Drawing on primary sources, including oral interviews with past and current residents and extensive research in church and historical society archives, the authors record the hopes, dreams, disappointments, and successes of a vibrant neighborhood as it persevered through slavery and segregation, war and peace, prosperity and depression. This beautifully redesigned 25th anniversary edition of Black Georgetown Remembered, first published in 1991, includes a foreword by Maurice Jackson and more than two hundred illustrations, including portraits of prominent community leaders, sketches, maps, and nineteenth-century and contemporary photographs.
It is well-known that Patrick Healy, S.J., was born enslaved, the son of Michael Morris Healy and one of the women enslaved by him Eliza Clark Healy. James O'Toole explores the experiences of the Healy family to address broader questions of racial identity, religious tolerance, and black-white "passing" in America. Legally slaves, the nine Healy children were smuggled north before the Civil War to be educated. Rejecting the convention that defined as black anyone with "one drop of Negro blood," they were able to transform themselves into white Americans. The unlikely ally in this transition was the Catholic church, as several of them became priests or nuns.
James D. Rice explores how environmental forces, and human responses to them, profoundly shaped both Native American and colonial life along the Potomac River. By the early eighteenth century, European colonists, hostile Iroquois warriors, and epidemiological conditions eliminated the Algonquan nations along the Potomac River. This story includes the Maryland missionaries who sought to Christianize these Natives and the Catholic gentry whose plantations played a decisive role in driving the Natives out of the region.
A microcosm of the history of American slavery in a collection of the most important primary and secondary readings on slavery at Georgetown University and among the Maryland Jesuits Georgetown University's early history, closely tied to that of the Society of Jesus in Maryland, is a microcosm of the history of American slavery: the entrenchment of chattel slavery in the tobacco economy of the Chesapeake in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries; the contradictions of liberty and slavery at the founding of the United States; the rise of the domestic slave trade to the cotton and sugar kingdoms of the Deep South in the nineteenth century; the political conflict over slavery and its overthrow amid civil war; and slavery's persistent legacies of racism and inequality. It is also emblematic of the complex entanglement of American higher education and religious institutions with slavery. Important primary sources drawn from the university's and the Maryland Jesuits' archives document Georgetown's tangled history with slavery, down to the sizes of shoes distributed to enslaved people on the Jesuit plantations that subsidized the school. The volume also includes scholarship on Jesuit slaveholding in Maryland and at Georgetown, news coverage of the university's relationship with slavery, and reflections from descendants of the people owned and sold by the Maryland Jesuits. These essays, articles, and documents introduce readers to the history of Georgetown's involvement in slavery and recent efforts to confront this troubling past. Current efforts at recovery, repair, and reconciliation are part of a broader contemporary moment of reckoning with American history and its legacies. This reader traces Georgetown's "Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation Initiative" and the role of universities, which are uniquely situated to conduct that reckoning in a constructive way through research, teaching, and modeling thoughtful, informed discussion.
William G. Thomas tells the story of the longest and most complex legal challenge to slavery in American history. For over seventy years and five generations, the enslaved families of Prince George's County, Maryland, filed hundreds of suits for their freedom against a powerful circle of slaveholders, taking their cause all the way to the Supreme Court. Between 1787 and 1861, these lawsuits challenged the legitimacy of slavery in American law and put slavery on trial in the nation's capital. Piecing together evidence once dismissed in court and buried in the archives, William Thomas tells an intricate and intensely human story of the enslaved families (the Butlers, Queens, Mahoneys, and others), their lawyers (among them a young Francis Scott Key), and the slaveholders who fought to defend slavery, beginning with the Jesuit priests who held some of the largest plantations in the nation and founded a college at Georgetown. A Question of Freedom asks us to reckon with the moral problem of slavery and its legacies in the present day.
Lorena Walsh offers an enlightening history of plantation management in the Chesapeake colonies of Virginia and Maryland, ranging from the founding of Jamestown to the close of the Seven Years' War and the end of the "Golden Age" of colonial Chesapeake agriculture. Walsh focuses on the operation of more than thirty individual plantations, including Jesuit planters and members of the Catholic gentry. She argues that, in the mid-seventeenth century, Chesapeake planter elites deliberately chose to embrace slavery. Prior to 1763 the primary reason for large planters' debt was their purchase of capital assets--especially slaves--early in their careers. In the later stages of their careers, chronic indebtedness was rare. Walsh's narrative incorporates stories about the planters themselves, including family dynamics and relationships with enslaved workers.
This dissertation is a study of the “James Carroll Daybook,” a journal of transactions that a colonial Maryland planter and merchant used between 1714 and 1721. This Irish Catholic partisan's career is illustrative of early eighteenth century mercantile culture in which one could gain elite status by using intellectual skills to master the market and by owning consumer goods. The dissertation is, thus, a material culture study of the commerce that yielded Carroll a fortune and secured his social standing.
Beatriz Betancourt Hardy establishes the importance of the extensive property holdings of elite Catholic families in protecting their civil position before the American Revolution. This dissertation includes extensive appendices that details the transactions and tax payments made by individual members of the gentry on the land and people owned by them.
This thesis explores the meaning of liberty to American Catholics by exploring the debates of the Philodemic Society at Georgetown between 1830 and 1875. An appendix to his thesis groups debates by topic including Race, Union and Secession, and Slavery.
Mendoza examines the Jesuits' extensive reliance upon slavery and its role in shaping Georgetown College. Accounts of the 1838 sale suggest that Georgetown relied upon enslaved labor only briefly, but Mendoza extends this story to show the reliance of the College upon the capital generated from the exploitation of enslaved labor on the Jesuit plantations, the importance of slave hiring, and the financing of other educational endeavors.
Despite their ambivalence regarding slaveholding, the Jesuits engaged in the practice in part to gain legitimacy in colonial Maryland and the early republic. Even though they pledged to care for the people enslaved by them, the Jesuits often treated them cruelly and arbitrarily. Murphy maintains that the Jesuits decided to abandon slaveholding in 1838 to protect the order from nativist attacks. (Note: it is well-established that the Maryland Jesuits enslaved people).
Herbert Brewer researched the voyage of the ship Margaret, which in 1718 transported captives from Sierra Leone to Annapolis. An innovative merchant James Carroll served as the agent for the sale of the captives to enslavers from Southern Maryland.
This article addresses the longstanding historiographical debate over the conditions of slave life in the Americas, especially the treatment of slaves in Protestant Anglo America versus Catholic Latin America, by comparing the treatment of slaves by Catholics and Anglicans in colonial Maryland, an area where other factors--ethnicity, economy, climate, laws--were the same for both religious groups. It compares the attitudes of Anglican and Catholic clergy and laity about instructing the enslaved population in religion and providing access to sacraments and rites. It then looks at why slaves might have found one church more appealing than the other.
Jesuit endeavors in Maryland are difficult to categorize as either missions or plantations. Archaeological sites associated with the Maryland Mission/ Province bear similarities to Jesuit mission sites in New France as well as plantations in Latin America and the Caribbean. It is clear that in Maryland, the Jesuits did not enforce a distinction between missions as places of conversion and plantations as sites of capitalist production. Moreover, people of American Indian, African, and European ancestry have been connected with Maryland’s Jesuit plantations throughout their history. Archaeology demonstrates the importance of critically reflecting on available historical evidence, including a historiographic focus on either mission or plantation, on the written history of Jesuits in the Americas. Furthermore, historical archaeologists must reconceptualize missions as both places and practices.
Catholic devotional objects are rare but persistent finds at archaeological sites in Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. These largely personal, private objects—from medals depicting saints to rosaries and reliquaries—illustrate the vibrant spiritual world inhabited by residents of the seventeenth- through twentieth-century Middle Atlantic region. Contextual analysis of undisturbed artifacts reveals that they were treated with reverence, although not always in ways reflecting orthodox Catholicism. Moreover, analysis shows that the social context of their use among people of European, African, and Native American descent was unmistakably different. These objects of metal, wood, bone, clay, glass, and stone played pivotal roles in the way that American Catholics connected with the supernatural.
This article examines the place of enslaved laborers in the founding and operations of Georgetown University. The school generally rented rather than bought and owned enslaved people to work on campus. The school used its position as a provider of education and religious services to obtain enslaved laborers from two types of Catholic slaveowners: priests and parents—women in particular—who sent their children to Georgetown.
At Georgetown Visitation in Washington, DC, religious women, who had taken vows of poverty, collectively owned slaves in an urban context. Documents assembled from public repositories and the Georgetown Visitation Monastery Archives tell of enslaved people who were inherited, bought, sold, hired-out, manumitted, or emancipated.
A member of the Working Group on Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation reflects upon the institutional morality of Georgetown, including its role in enslaving human beings in its past , its memory of this history, and its reconciliation efforts.
In this short illustrated piece, Adam Rothman explores the significance of the documents related to the sale of 1838 including the inventory listing the people offered for sale, the deeds transferring title to planters in Louisiana, and a ship manifest listing those transported to Louisiana.
Between 1823 and 1865, members of the Society of Jesus exploited the labor of more than 70 enslaved people and also ministered to their spiritual well-being. This article looks at the ways that Black people adapted the Catholic rites to serve the purposes of their own communities.
As the Jesuit mission in the United States expanded to the west in the early nineteenth century, the Society bought, owned, hired, sold, and forcibly moved enslaved people to support their activities. Enslaved people lived and labored at Jesuit schools, scholasticates, churches, and farms in Missouri, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Kansas. Aspects of their lives, including names and family relationships, can be gleaned from Jesuit and other archival materials. Undertaken by the Jesuits of Canada and the United States, the Slavery, History, Memory, and Reconciliation Project endeavors to shed light on this history and its contemporary legacies while working with descendants of the people the Society of Jesus held in slavery to determine steps forward today.
Georgetown College was profoundly shaped by the revolutionary era -- both on mainland North America and the Caribbean. It also was founded by members of an order who helped found plantation slavery in the Maryland colony and then ensured the continuation of this interest in new republic. Their plantation management was cruel and the sale of 1838 saved Georgetown College and underwrote the Catholic Church that welcomed immigrants.
Intestine Enemies: Catholics in Protestant America, 1605-1791, is a documentary survey of the experience of Roman Catholics in the British Atlantic world from Maryland to Barbados and Nova Scotia to Jamaica over the course of the two centuries that spanned colonization to independence. It covers the first faltering efforts of the British Catholic community to establish colonies in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries; to their presence in the proprietary and royal colonies of the seventeenth century where policies of formal or practical toleration allowed Catholics some freedom for civic or religious participation; to their marginalization throughout the British Empire by the political revolution of 1688; to their transformation from aliens to citizens through their disproportionate contribution to the wars in the latter half of that century as a consequence of which half of the colonies of Britain's American Empire gained their independence. The volume organizes representative documents from a wide array of public and private records--broadsides, newspapers, and legislative acts to correspondence, diaries, and reports--into topical chapters bridged by contextualized introductions. It affords students and readers in general the opportunity to have first-hand access to history. It serves also as a complement to Papist Devils: Catholics in British America, 1574-1783 (The Catholic University of America Press, 2014), a narrative history of the same topic.
Georgetown's Second Founder by Grassi. Giovanni; Roberto Severino
Publication Date: 2021-08-03
Father Grassi was the ninth president of Georgetown and pioneered its transition to a modern university, earning him the moniker Georgetown's Second Founder. Originally published in Italian in 1818 and translated here into English for the first time, Grassi's rich observations of life in the young republic will fascinate historians of Catholicism.