Imperfect Institution: Slavery’s Legacy at Washington
By Albin Kowalewski
“The year 2005 must be
looked upon as a watershed period for institutional
atonement,” wrote reparations scholar Roy L. Brooks.
As part of a national trend, many of the nation’s
foremost educational and financial institutions are
attempting to unveil the role slavery played in their
histories. The same can now be said for the first
college founded in the United States. This paper will
attempt to demonstrate the close relationship Washington
College had with slavery and how it permeated even the
most intimate of daily activities—from student housing
to gambling and drinking. Slave labor also built the
fortunes of the initial donors to the College, many of
whom assisted in the founding of the country as well.
Without the collective work of roughly 4,000 enslaved
black men and women, it is reasonable to assume that
William Smith, D.D. would have failed to collect the
necessary money to even build the College. Eastern Shore
slaves also helped fire the kilns used to make the
bricks that built Washington College from the ground up.
At least a few of those buildings remain standing in the
twenty-first century, an ironic monument as slaves were
frequently denied an education of their own.
In their most recent book,
Alfred Blumrosen and his late wife Ruth argue that the
institution of slavery helped to unify the British
colonies in America and catalyzed the Revolution. The
Somerset decision in England outlawed slavery in
England and encroached on the colonies’ notion of
private property. Slaves were legal possessions in North
America but Granville Sharp’s activities threatened the
continued existence of slavery and the economic
infrastructure in the colonies. The importance of
slavery in south and the indirect reliance of northern
industry functioned as a common ground for a people
quickly developing an autonomous identity.
If this is the case, it
seems fitting that the first college founded in the
United States touted the name of the slaveholding
Revolutionary idol. But aside from the “guilt by
association” phenomenon, Washington College directly
benefited from bound human labor. The earliest
indication of the College’s abetment came from William
Smith’s pursuit for funding. According to Washington
College historian L.W. Barroll, Smith used the home of
Maryland Governor and Queen Anne’s Countian William Paca
as his fundraising “headquarters.” Paca donated £50, and
his connections as Governor granted Smith access to the
wealthiest slaveowners on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.
As a career minister and
Scotsman, it is difficult to determine whether Smith
felt any remorse about his petitions to slaveowners.
Before his involvement with Washington College, Smith
worked with abolitionist Benjamin Franklin at the
University of Pennsylvania. When partnership between
Smith and Franklin dissolved, Smith may have looked to
the slaveowning-south as a surefire way of procuring the
means to establish a school regardless of its position
on slavery. The University of Pennsylvania inevitably
indirectly benefited from the institution of slavery.
But with Franklin as the figurehead of the school and
its geographic position in cosmopolitan Philadelphia,
history may have subconsciously ignored its relationship
to slavery. (That is, of course, until now.)
Recent works by the
Blumrosens, Gary Nash, and Bruce Ackerman do much to
shatter the rose-colored lens that students of history
previously viewed the American Revolution.
Each work questions the motivations of the “patriots”
and redefines the legacies of the Founding Fathers. As a
friend of Benjamin Rush and contemporary of George
Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Paine, William
Smith’s support of the War may categorize him with the
other ambivalent icons. Although Smith is dwarfed by the
hagiography that permeates the lives of the more popular
Revolutionary leaders, their collaboration implicates
Smith in the perpetuation of slavery.
If we take the Blumrosens’ thesis at face-value, then
Thomas Paine’s words upon Smith’s death directly
incriminate him in the continuation and protection of
slavery. “His early and inflexible patriotism,” wrote
Paine, “will endear his Memory to all the true friends
of the American Revolution.”
Smith is described by one
biographer “as a lover of established institutions and
those who ruled them.”
Slavery following the Revolution fortified itself in the
American economy. As a southern institution, Smith had
no choice but to tap into the wealth of the slavery
infused economy of the Eastern Shore. Smith, however,
did not travel on foreign ground. He owned slaves and
subscribed to the southern rhetoric used by slaveowners.
His concepts of racial equality were not unlike his
peers. While still working in Philadelphia, Smith
occasionally invited local Native Americans to his
classes. But, instead of appreciating their unique
culture, he believed exposure to British society would
unveil their Anglican potential.
More importantly, Smith
owned at the bare minimum two slaves. Like Washington,
Smith owned a slave he became particularly intimate with
and dependent upon. During Smith’s tenure at Washington
College, he traveled frequently between Chestertown and
Philadelphia, and likely accompanied by Primus, “a
favorite slave” of the family. When the Smith’s moved
back to Philadelphia, they fortuitously arrived in time
for the outbreak of Yellow Fever in 1793. Smith’s wife
was tended to on her death bed by her fourteen year old
slave, but died nonetheless.
One of Smith’s biographers
makes the conjecture that Smith hired Primus’ services
throughout the city nursing the sick and burying the
A Pair of Lawn Sleeves, written by Thomas Jones,
focuses on many relationships in Smith’s life but lacks
discussion on his rapport to the vibrant black leader
Richard Allen. Allen, in a sign of respect, attended the
Spartan funeral for Smith’s wife; only four mourned the
internment—Smith, his slave Primus, Allen, and the
coffin maker. Allen’s ambivalent relationship with Smith
may indicate a shift in Smith’s ideology regarding
slavery. More research is required in order to determine
the genuine nature of the relationship, but later in his
life Smith continued to uphold the virtues (or lack
thereof) of slavery.
In an anecdotal account of
one conversation shared between Smith and Primus as the
two inspected the new family mausoleum, Smith tells
Primus that “’I shall be buried there, but one like you
cannot be.” With a response that Smith as a minister
should have appreciated, Primus said, “’Alright Massah
Smith, it won’t matter. The Devil will know where to
find you wherever you are.’” In 1801, unlike Smith’s
white servant Isabella was buried inside the mausoleum
shortly after Primus himself died and buried on the
periphery of the family plot.
In 1783, the Devil was the
least of Smith’s worries. He relentlessly scoured the
Delmarva Peninsula looking for benefactors, hoping from
one plantation to the next. When Smith concluded his
mendicant tour he collected donations from roughly 358
white patrons, in addition to talking with countless
others. The most striking aspect that emerges from his
trip is neither his stamina nor his persistence; it is,
instead, the roughly 4,000 slaves he would have seen
working the fields owned by his benefactors.
The statistical figures I
have computed for this paper are unfortunately not as
accurate as I had originally desired because of variant
and incomplete Census records. However, the existent
numbers do provide a telling picture of the Shore
economy and the overall reliance of Washington College
on enslaved labor. Of the approximately 356 donors, only
14 did not own slaves.
Somerset County records are regrettably missing and
Dorchester County statistics are horrifyingly
incomplete, but the figures I did find make it
painstakingly clear that Smith targeted the wealthy, who
inevitably held slaves.
In 1790, out of the
original 356 contributors, 168 definitively owned
Collectively, these 168 donors possessed a staggering
3,681 slaves. Of the 3,681 slaves 683 were owned by
three men—Edward Lloyd of Talbot County, John Beal
Bordley of Queen Anne’s County, and George Washington of
Virginia. Lloyd held 305 slaves; Brodley, 128; and
Washington, about 250.
Though they owed 18.5% of the total slave holding, their
wealth in capital did not necessarily translate into
excessively large donations.
As the largest slaveowner
in the state of Maryland, Lloyd had the capacity to
endow Washington College beyond Smith’s wildest dreams.
In fact, Lloyd’s slaveholdings totaled more than the
entirety of Allegany County.
However, he was one of four men to give Smith a £60
subscription—the others being Charles Troup of Queen
Anne’s, William Ennalls of Dorchester County, and Daniel
Charles Heath, of Cecil County.
Heath, in fact, entertained Washington and Governor Eden
as they passed through Cecil County in 1773.
Likewise, Bordley was one of ten to donate £50. Of those
ten, Governor William Paca owned the closest amount with
Of the three largest
individual donors—Robert Goldsborough and Henry Ennalls
of Dorchester County, and John Cadwalader of Kent
County—only records of Goldsborough exist. A close
friend of Washington’s from the War and acquainted with
Smith, Cadawalader died before the Census was taken.
Robert Goldsborough’s £100 donation seems exceedingly
generous given his relatively average slave holding (41
slaves) for the lower Eastern Shore. The fifteen men who
owned 41 or more slaves in 1790 donated on average
£31.2. And of those fifteen, thirteen owned more than
slaves than Robert Goldsborough.
Slaves per subscription by
county were highest in Talbot County. The nineteen
slaveowners I was able to find from Talbot collectively
owned 805 slaves. Queen Anne’s was second with 815
slaves between 33 slaveowners. Worchester County was
third, tallying 508 slaves between 27 slaveowners; and
Kent County, fourth, with 795 slaves between 58
As evident in the slave
holdings, the majority of the lower shore subscribers
acquired their fortunes through their farming
operations. Washington College’s native Chestertown
provided its entrepreneurs with opportunities beyond the
plantation. A thriving port before and during the
Revolution, goods shipped from Chestertown traveled to
all corners of the known world. Wheat, tobacco, and
strong timber packed the holds of merchant schooners
bound for Pennsylvania, New England, South Carolina, the
British Isles, and the West Indies.
Not yet overshadowed by Baltimore on the Western Shore,
Chestertown functioned as a major nexus between the
industrial north and agricultural south.
manipulated their dual identities to keep as much of
their businesses “in house” as possible. Large slave
holdings in pre-Revolution Kent County enabled
merchant-planters to harvest and export their own
products, effectively cutting-out the middle man where
most of a profit could be lost. The founding of a
college in their home town provided these
gentleman-planter-merchants the possibility of educating
their sons without having to send them abroad or to New
England. The ever-talkative Smith doubtfully said much
to convince wealthy Chestertownians to subscribe.
The life and business of
Kent County merchant-planter Thomas Smyth provides the
best example of the type of man buying stock in the
College. Born in Western Kent County in 1729, Smyth
descended from a powerful and wealthy family. Smyth rose
to prominence within Chestertown and on the eve of the
Revolution, he held the judgeship for the county and
accepted a nomination to the Maryland Convention where
he was elected chairman of a committee organized to help
the blockaded citizens of Boston.
His merchant business
boomed in conjunction with the relative affluence of the
county in the years preceding the Revolution. Smyth and
his business partner brother-in-law Emory Sudler owned
the 160-ton schooner
Friendship, and frequently shipped upwards of
6,000 bushels of wheat to Spain and Portugal.
Smyth owned 35 slaves in 1790 making him the sixth
largest slaveowner in the county and Sudler owned 11.
The majority of Smyth’s slaves worked the wheat fields
in the southwestern quadrant of the county at his
Trumpington plantation. Smyth’s operated his mercantile
business from his home at the foot of High Street in
Chestertown, just a few blocks from the site chosen as
the home for Washington College.
Luckily for William Smith,
Thomas Smyth had yet to fully feel the fiscal toll the
Revolution had taken. Smyth often dug deep into his own
pocket to provision troops from the county—two of whom
were his sons William and Thomas, Jr. Rarely did Smyth
receive compensation for his troubles from the western
shore treasurer and by the conclusion of the War, Smyth
had to declare virtual bankruptcy.
But, in 1782, when Smith called, Smyth obliged with a
generous donation of £30. Smyth’s son Thomas, Jr. and
Sudler also contributed £18 apiece.
Smith accumulated £6,513
over the course of 1782 in subscriptions to the school.
Approximately £4,000 of which was paid in silver—an
impressive amount given the relative scarcity of hard
specie during the Revolution and a testament to the
earning power of slave labor.
The majority of the money Smith and the Board of
Visitors and Governors put toward the construction of
the main building, which some estimates claimed to be
the largest building in the nation at the time.
According to one college historian Smith hired Robert
Allison of Philadelphia as the primary contractor.
Whether Allison tapped into the labor resources of the
Eastern Shore remains to be seen and more research is
required. Smith also hired Samuel Hadley, as the
“official bricklayer.” Smith also seems to have
contracted at least part of the construction out to a
family of bricklayers named Foreman. In 1784, during the
initial building process bricklayer Jacob Foreman lived
on College owned property, and the following year Smith
bought 501,769 bricks from Joseph Foreman for £815.
The labor, however, remains
a mystery. Did Allison, Hadley, and the Foremans use
slaves to painstakingly piece the four-story edifice
together? In 1790, Jacob Foreman did
not own any slaves, and neither did Hadley.
A controversial painting from the 1930s depicting
Governor Paca laying the first stone reveals a
bare-backed black man performing the actual labor. It is
likely slaves composed the main labor force given their
prominence in the Shore economy. But, bricklaying
required more “skill” than harvesting wheat.
Another possibility may
reside in the incipient free black community. As county
farmers concentrated their production on wheat the
demand for enslaved labor waned. Like the wheat harvest,
the construction of the college building would have been
a temporary job and free wage labor may have proved more
profitable. County planters often hired slaves from
neighboring plantations during the harvest and the
indentures included reservations for room and board for
the hired slave. Free blacks, on the other hand, were
not necessarily promised a stipulation for termed
residence. In his notes on the Commencement of 1788,
Smith makes the provision to place the master carpenter
and bricklayer at the head of the graduation procession.
His recognition of their labor is a testament to their
importance but would they have been representative of
the entire labor force? Not likely.
surrounds the actual construction of the building, the
presence of slaves in satellite tasks is virtually
confirmed. In the summer and fall of 1785, Benjamin
Chambers billed the Visitors and Governors of the
college for bringing wood over the Chester River on
multiple occasions and for carting scaffolding to the
construction site. Chambers’ 18 slaves more than likely
performed the grunt work.
In September, Cambers’ slaves brought one cord of wood
to Mr. Hyland’s “to finish burning the brick kiln.” The
previous year 1784, John Hyland leased Lott 24 from the
College for £57. He lived directly next to bricklayer
Jacob Foreman and in 1790 Hyland owned two slaves,
sufficient to tend the kiln. The following fall,
Chambers brought 3,300 bricks to Mr. Claypoole; James
Claypoole owned five slaves in 1790. The next month,
October 1786, Chambers delivered an additional 10,000
bricks to Claypoole by way of William Carter and his one
slave. A few days later, Chambers took an order from Dr.
Ferguson, not yet the second Principal of the College.
By the time Ferguson accepted his presidential
appointment when Smith returned to Philadelphia he
possessed nine slaves.
This web of connections
spun between subscribers and builders of the college
demonstrates the involvement of slave labor. As Clerk of
the Court, Chambers’ attention focused on the legal
proceedings of the county and would have relied on his
slaves to complete his other transactions. Hyland’s
meager slaveholding was probably appropriate given the
type of work he did; it did not take many slaves to tend
and feed the kiln. Likewise, another bricklayer Ephraim
Vansant owned six slaves in 1790.
The number of slaves these men possessed distinguished
them from their wealthier peers. The fortunes predicated
on large plantations and their congruent slaveholdings
paid for the college, while it seems small
specialized slaveholdings built the school.
The college building was
almost lost in a fire in 1817, was it not for the help
of a local free black, Thomas Bowser. Early one December
morning in 1817, the building that had been so
meticulously constructed almost burned down. The
official records of the Board of Visitors and Governors
recognize Thomas Taylor and James Lynch “for their great
exertions in extinguishing the late fire” and awarded
Bowser a two dollar compensation for his assistance.
Two years later the Board
established a committee to draw-up new regulations
regarding student life. The resultant “Rules and
Regulations of Student Boarders at Washington College,”
clearly specified the nature of slave-student
relationships as tolerated by the school. Three points
in particular define the treatment of domestic slaves
owned by the steward:
8. No student shall require
any of his servants of the steward to perform any
service for him not in the way of their ordinary
9. No student shall at any
time offer the least insulting behavior to the steward
nor abuse any of his domestics.
13. The students shall
endeavor to keep every part of the college and
especially their own rooms free from filth for which
purpose they may require the servants of the steward to
make up their beds and sweep their rooms and other parts
of the college at least once a day, but no student shall
require the servants to sweep out the dirt which he or a
fellow student may have purposely made, or make up his
bed more than once a day unless in case of sickness.
It is interesting to note
that the Board never used the term “slave” to denote the
bound help of the college steward, choosing instead the
less degrading term “servant.” The college’s desire to
reform their code of conduct may indicate a lack of
chivalry on the part of its students. The specific
nature of the new rules may lend credence to the
proliferation of rambunctious students and a genuine
lack of respect. That slaves held active roles in the
operations of the college is now obvious. It seems that
students purposely antagonized the slaves whom they
lived with in the home of the steward. Students and
slaves interacted closely enough to warrant a level of
protection for the “servants” of the steward.
As we have already seen,
free blacks also played an important role in the
college’s history. By the 1820s, free black labor
dominated the wheat market in the county. The economic
viability of unskilled free black labor proved its worth
and farmers relied on them heavily during the planting
and harvesting seasons. With the increase in employment
opportunities came a parallel growth in home ownership,
inside and surrounding Chestertown. When the Board first
accepted the State issued land grant on which to build
the college, they hired a surveyor and divided the
surplus land into plots for lease. Between 1784 and
1806, the Land Records of Kent County recorded
the college as making 36 lease transactions, in the
hopes of procuring more funding.
In 1827, “collorad man” Shadrick Brown lived on one of
these lots rented he from Samuel Cloak, who purchased
the land from the school. Cloak wrote to his friend
Theodore Brown and requested that he compose a new lease
for the property upon Shadrick Brown’s request. Shadrick
and Samuel must have had a cordial relationship as
Samuel’s terms appear quite generous.
complicity in the system of slavery must have struck a
strong cord in the hearts and minds of Chestertown’s
abolitionist population. Ten years after the founding of
the college, the First Annual American Anti-slavery
Convention met in Philadelphia. Joseph Wilkinson, James
Maslin, and Abraham Ridgley represented Chestertown’s
Abolitionist Society in 1794, and Edward Scott and James
Houston acted as its ambassadors the following year.
None of the five antislavery supporters donated a single
shilling in 1782. We may never know if the college’s
direct connection to the largest slaveholders on the
Eastern Shore averted their subscriptions. A few of the
men, however, did not completely isolate themselves from
the college. Edward Scott graduated from Washington
College and James Houston sat on the Board of Visitors
and Governors in the 1810s.
Another Washington College
graduate, Richard Tilghman Earle took a much different
path. Upon his graduation in 1787 he took a position in
the law office of Thomas Bedingfields Hands, the
father-in-law of Thomas Smyth, in Chestertown. He was
elected Chief Judge of the Second District Court in
Maryland in 1809, and moved back home to Centreville, in
Queen Anne’s County. His slaveholdings were some of the
largest in the county, but in 1839 one of his slaves
named Jacob Green ran away. Green eventually made it to
Pennsylvania where he resided for roughly six months
until his employer filed for bankruptcy. When the bank
came to collect his boss’ debts, Green inadvertently
revealed his true identity. Green was brought back into
Maryland and Earle, in disgust, sold him to Kentucky.
Green describes Earle as an abusive and often
unrelenting master, whose wife juggled two affairs with
local planters simultaneously.
One cannot help but wonder
about the tensions that may have existed on Washington’s
campus with such a dichotomized student body. The small
classes engendered an intimate learning environment and
it is likely the young students came to know one-another
well. In this sense, Washington College was indeed
microcosmic of the larger Maryland population. Historian
Barbara Jean Fields termed Maryland “the Middle ground,”
due to its geographic location and the oscillating
attitudes between pro and antislavery beliefs.
Washington College as an institution, however, supported
and relied on slavery to provide an income and labor
The question remains: What
should Washington College do about its tainted past?
Only the powers that be in the administration can
provide a complete answer, but if current trends are any
indication, a formal introspection should be in order.
The controversy and challenge of the issue make it
especially poignant in a race-conscious 21st
century. The issue should not, however, remain ignored.
When Brown University concluded its trailblazing
investigation schools across the southern and eastern
seaboard rang the tocsin of their innocence without
fully delving into the records. The difference between
Brown University and Washington College lies in their
respective involvement. More research is needed to
determine whether Washington College officials engaged
in the international slave trade, as the Brown family of
Rhode Island had. The subscribers’ ownership and the
builders’ ostensible reliance on slaves should provide
enough indication to warrant a more thorough
This initial investigation
into Washington College’s relationship with slavery on
the Eastern Shore, although rough and incomplete,
provides insight into the type of institution William
Smith envisioned when he first came to Chestertown.
Smith had a potential blank-check in the form of
sympathetic, Revolution inspired Eastern Shore
plantation owners, and he need only to present the
college as congruent to southern philosophies. As a
slaveowner, himself, Smith could meet subscribers on
equal footing. When it came time to build the first
edifice, Smith, yet again, seemed to have hired builders
who employed slave labor. The presence of slaves on
campus continued well into the 19th century,
as their relationships with the students became more
intimate and occasionally hostile.
Washington College should
not interpret these realizations as damning or
incriminating. The name “Washington College” stands as a
monument to a crimson past, but its history reflects
that of most histories from the late 18th
century on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Slavery
constituted a major portion of the lives of Shore
citizens during the early Republic and Washington
College is no different.
Washington College Archives
Vertical File 1728-1832
Vertical File, 1816-1871
The Wickes Family Papers
Kent County Court
Tax Assessment, 1782
Kent County Historical
B.B. Browne, unpublished
biographical Sketch of the Smyth Family
Queen Anne’s County
sketch of Richard Tilghman Earle
Books and Articles -
Ackerman, Bruce. The
Failure of the Founding Fathers: Jefferson, Marshall and
the Rise of Presidential Democracy. Cambridge:
Harvard University Press, 2005.
Bartlett, Thomas “After
Brown U.’s Report on Slavery, Silence (So Far),” The
Chronicle of Higher Education, 24 November 2006,
Blumrosen, Alfred and Ruth
Blumrosen. Slave Nation: How Slavery United the
Colonies and Sparked the American Revolution.
Illinois: Sourcebooks, 2005.
Brooks, Roy L. “Repairing
the Past: Confronting the Legacies of Slavery, Genocide,
& Caste” From the Proceedings of the Seventh Annual
Gilder Lehrman Center
International Conference at
Yale University, October 27-29, 2005. Online via
Browne, William Hand ed.
Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of
Safety, July 7-December 31, 1776 Vol. XII.
Baltimore: Maryland Historical Society, 1803.
Clemens, Paul G.E The
Atlantic Economy and Colonial Maryland’s Eastern Shore:
From Tobacco to Grain.
Cornell University Press: London, 1980.
Daniels, Christine Marie
“Alternative Workers in a Slave Economy: Kent County,
Maryland, 1657-1810.” Dissertation John’s Hopkins
University 1990. University
Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1991.
Fields, Barbara Jeanne.
Slavery and Freedom on the Middle Ground: Maryland
During the Nineteenth Century.
New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985.
Green, Jacob D.
Narrative of the Life of J.D. Green, A Runaway Slave,
from Kentucky Containing an Account of his Three escape
In 1839, 1846, and 1849.
Fielding, 1864. Online via <www.docsouth.unc.edu>.
Jones, Thomas Firth, A
Pair of Lawn Sleeves: A Biography of William Smith (1727-1803).
Philadelphia: Clinton Book Company, 1972.
Nash, Gary. The Unknown
American Revolution: The Unruly Birth of Democracy and
the Struggle to Create America. New York: Viking,
Scharf, Col. J. Thomas.
The Chronicles of Baltimore; Being a Complete History of
“Baltimore Town” and Baltimore City from the Earliest
Period to the Present Time. Baltimore: Turnbull
Roy L. Brooks, “Repairing the Past: Confronting
the Legacies of Slavery, Genocide, & Caste,” pg.
4, from the Proceedings of the Seventh Annual
Gilder Lehrman Center International Conference
at Yale University, October 27-29, 2005. Online
Alfred Blumrosen and Ruth Blumrosen, Slave
Nation: How Slavery United the Colonies and
Sparked the American Revolution. (Illinois:
Sourcebooks, 2005), passim.
L.W. Barroll, “Article,” 1910, unpublished,
Vertical File (VF), 1728-1832. Washington
College Archives, Miller Library (WCAML); Also
see Barroll, “Washington College, 1783,”
Maryland Historical Magazine, Vol. 6, (June,
Gary Nash, The Unknown American Revolution:
The Unruly Birth of Democracy and the Struggle
to Create America, (New York: Viking, 2005),
passim; Bruce Ackerman, The Failure of
the Founding Fathers: Jefferson, Marshall and
the Rise of Presidential Democracy,
(Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2005),
For the purposes of this argument, I
specifically implicate the Revolutionary
leaders, many of whom owned slaves. This
statement does not fully “hold water” if applied
to the general population.
Barroll, “Washington College, 1783,” 3. WCAML.
Thomas Firth Jones, A Pair of Lawn Sleeves: A
Biography of William Smith (1727-1803).
(Philadelphia: Clinton Book Company, 1972), 17.
Jones, A Pair of Lawn Sleeves, 80.
Jones, A Pair of Lawn Sleeves, 178.
Jones, A Pair of Lawn Sleeves, 162, 178.
Jones, A Pair of Lawn Sleeves, 192.
All of the slave ownership records are derived
from the First U.S. Census of 1790. Since
Washington College was founded eight years prior
the exact figures are inevitably different. Many
of the original donors are not listed in the
1790 Census, and many names are repeated making
it next to impossible to determine with any
exactness the official number of slaves owned by
the College’s benefactors. These statistics,
therefore, are quite rough around the edges but
serve their purpose in demonstrating how rampant
slave ownership was on the Eastern Shore
following the Revolution.
This statistic fails, of course to include
Somerset County, while others were not listed in
the Census altogether; First U.S. Census, 1790,
The Salem Mercury reported in 1789 that
George Washington owned 250 slaves, 140 horses,
112 cows, 235 oxen, and 500 sheep on
approximately 10,000 acres. Salem Mercury,
July 28, 1789. WCAML; First U.S. Census, 1790,
Compiled using the First U.S. Census, 1790,
The 1790 Census lists Charles Troup as residing
in Talbot County and owning six slaves and
living with one free black. William Ennalls is
not listed in the 1790 Census, but all the
Ennalls living in Dorchester County owned
slaves. Heath is also not listed in the 1790
Census. First U.S. Census, 1790, Maryland,
E.A. Howard to Maynard White, August 19, 1962,
V.F. 1728-1832, “Letters on Original Cecil
County Subscribers,” WCAML.
First U.S. Census, 1790, Maryland, passim.
These figures apply only for the men I was able
to find in the Census. Two of Talbot’s donors
did not own slaves; two of Queen Anne’s;
potentially two of Worchester; and four in Kent.
First U.S. Census, 1790, Maryland, passim.
Christine Marie Daniels, “Alternative Workers in
a Slave Economy: Kent County, Maryland ,
1657-1810,” dissertation John’s Hopkins
University 1990 (University Microfilms
International: Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1991), 6.
B.B. Browne, unpublished Smyth family history,
Kent County Historical Society; Maryland
Gazette, June 21, 1774.
Paul G.E Clemens, The Atlantic Economy and
Colonial Maryland’s Eastern Shore: From Tobacco
to Grain (Cornell University Press: London,
U.S. First Census, 1790, Kent County, Maryland,
Council to Smyth, August 3, 1776, Journal and
Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety,
July 7-December 31, 1776, William Hand Browne,
ed. vol. XII (Baltimore: Maryland Historical
Society, 1803), 165.
Jones, A Pair of Lawn Sleeves, 144.
Barroll, “Washington College, 1783,” 9.
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Chattel Records, E.F. 6 pg. 294; Barroll,
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First U.S. Census, 1790, Kent County, Maryland,
81, Barroll, “Washington College, 1783,”
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Rev. William Smith, Journal,“Dedication of
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First U.S. Census, 1790, Kent County, Maryland,
Account of Visitors and Governors to
Benjamin Chambers, 1785, VF 1728-1832. WCAML;
Indenture, Visitors and Governors to John
Hyland, Chattel Records, Kent County,
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Indenture, Ephraim Vansant to George Vansant,
January 28, 1784, Chattel Records, Kent
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Indentures, Visitors and Governors of Washington
College to John Ferguson, Samuel Armon, Joshua
Sevey, Morgan Brown, Isaac Perkins, John Hyland,
Joseph Bruff, Peter Charville, Samuel Keene,
Benjamin Chambers, John Scott, Thomas Kemp,
Richard Charmichael, William Paca, William
Bordley, Griffin Faunt LeRoy, Colin Ferguson,
Thomas Smyth, James Anderson, John Page, Robert
Anderson, William Dunn, Samuel Wallis, Edward
Beck, Elizabeth Hopkins, and Peter Snyder.
Land Records, Kent County, Maryland.
J. Thomas Scharf, The Chronicles of
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Earliest Period to the Present Time,
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Jacob D. Green, Narrative of the Life of J.D.
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an Account of his Three escape In 1839,
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