1838 Georgetown slave sale

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Articles of agreement between Thomas F. Mulledy, of Georgetown, and Jesse Beatty and Henry Johnson, of the State of Louisiana. June 19, 1838. Georgetown Slavery Archive. Articles of agreement between Thomas F. Mulledy, of Georgetown, District of Columbia, of one part, and Jesse Beatty and Henry Johnson, of the State of Louisiana, of the other part. 19th June 1838.pdf
Articles of agreement between Thomas F. Mulledy, of Georgetown, and Jesse Beatty and Henry Johnson, of the State of Louisiana. June 19, 1838. Georgetown Slavery Archive.

In 1838, 272 men, women, and children were sold by the Maryland Jesuits; a portion of the proceeds was used to pay the debts of Georgetown College (now Georgetown University), also run by the Jesuits. The enslaved people had lived on plantations belonging to the Jesuits in Maryland, and they were sold to Henry Johnson and Jesse Batey. $17,000 (equivalent to $399,978in 2018) from the sale was used for the Georgetown College debts. [1] [2] [3]

Maryland State of the United States of America

Maryland is a state in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east. The state's largest city is Baltimore, and its capital is Annapolis. Among its occasional nicknames are Old Line State, the Free State, and the Chesapeake Bay State. It is named after the English queen Henrietta Maria, known in England as Queen Mary.

Georgetown University Private university in Washington, D.C., United States

Georgetown University is a private research university in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Founded in 1789 as Georgetown College, the university has grown to comprise nine undergraduate and graduate schools, among which are the School of Foreign Service, School of Business, Medical School, and Law School. Located on a hill above the Potomac River, the school's main campus is identifiable by its flagship Healy Hall, a National Historic Landmark. Georgetown offers degree programs in forty-eight disciplines, enrolling an average of 7,500 undergraduate and 10,000 post-graduate students from more than 130 countries.

Slavery in the United States Form of slave labor which existed as a legal institution from the early years of the United States

Slavery in the United States was the legal institution of human chattel enslavement, primarily of Africans and African Americans, that existed in the United States of America in the 18th and 19th centuries. Slavery had been practiced in British America from early colonial days, and was legal in all Thirteen Colonies at the time of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. It lasted in about half the states until 1865, when it was prohibited nationally by the Thirteenth Amendment. As an economic system, slavery was largely replaced by sharecropping.


In April 2019, two-thirds of Georgetown students voted to establish a semesterly fee to fund reparations for descendents of the 272 enslaved people. The non-binding resolution was presented to the university for the approval of its board of directors. [4]

Reparations for slavery

Reparations for slavery is the idea that some form of compensatory payment needs to be made to the descendants of Africans who had been enslaved as part of the Atlantic slave trade. The most notable demands for reparations have been made in the United Kingdom and in the United States. Caribbean and African states from which slaves were taken have also made reparation demands.

The slaves sold by the Jesuits were part of the West Oak and Chatham Plantations, in Louisiana, both of which would later change ownership. [5] None of the terms for the sale, directed from the Catholic Church leadership in Rome, were met. These terms included that there be no familial separation, that the proceeds not be used to pay debt or the operating expenses of the college, and that the religious practice of the enslaved people be supported. In 1848, the Jesuit James Van de Velde wrote to Thomas F. Mulledy about his concerns over the lack of religious instruction received by the slaves sold to Henry Johnson, and urged Mulledy to contribute funds for the construction of a chapel. [3] [6]

Plantations in the American South aspect of the history of the American South

Plantations are an important aspect of the history of the American South, particularly the antebellum era. The mild subtropical climate, plentiful rainfall, and fertile soils of the southeastern United States allowed the flourishing of large plantations, where large numbers of workers, usually Africans held captive for slave labor, were required for agricultural production.

Louisiana State of the United States of America

Louisiana is a state in the Deep South region of the South Central United States. It is the 31st most extensive and the 25th most populous of the 50 United States. Louisiana is bordered by the state of Texas to the west, Arkansas to the north, Mississippi to the east, and the Gulf of Mexico to the south. A large part of its eastern boundary is demarcated by the Mississippi River. Louisiana is the only U.S. state with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are equivalent to counties. The state's capital is Baton Rouge, and its largest city is New Orleans.

Catholic Church Christian church led by the Bishop of Rome

The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion baptised Catholics worldwide as of 2017. As the world's "oldest continuously functioning international institution", it has played a prominent role in the history and development of Western civilisation. The church is headed by the Bishop of Rome, known as the Pope. Its central administration, the Holy See, is in the Vatican City, an enclave within the city of Rome in Italy.

Many descendants of these enslaved people (sometimes known as the "GU272") presently live in and around Maringouin, Louisiana. [1]

Maringouin, Louisiana Town in Louisiana, United States

Maringouin is a town in Iberville Parish, Louisiana, United States. The population was 1,098 at the 2010 census, down from 1,262 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Statistical Area.


National revelations of this connection were reported in a 2016 article in The New York Times . [7] A discussion is ongoing addressing the question of reconciliation of the university and the descendants; an internal working group at Georgetown recommended that the university offer "the same consideration [they] give members of the Georgetown community in the admissions process" to the descendants. [8] In response to these issues, descendant groups have formed, including the GU 272 Descendants Association. [9]

<i>The New York Times</i> Daily broadsheet newspaper based in New York City

The New York Times is an American newspaper based in New York City with worldwide influence and readership. Founded in 1851, the paper has won 125 Pulitzer Prizes, more than any other newspaper. The Times is ranked 17th in the world by circulation and 2nd in the U.S.

Building renamings

Isaac Hawkins Hall, formerly Mulledy Hall and Freedom Hall, at Georgetown University Isaac Hawkins Hall Georgetown University.jpg
Isaac Hawkins Hall, formerly Mulledy Hall and Freedom Hall, at Georgetown University

After the revelation around the slave sale gained wider publicity, the university decided to rename two buildings that bore the names of two Jesuits at Georgetown who had played significant roles in the 1838 sale, Reverends Thomas Mulledy and William McSherry. In November 2015, Mulledy Hall was renamed Freedom Hall and McSherry Hall was renamed Remembrance Hall as temporary measures while other names were being considered. [10] In 2017, the two buildings were rededicated in the names of Isaac, the first slave listed in the 1838 sale document, and Anne Marie Becraft, a free woman of color who established a school in Georgetown for black girls. [11]

William McSherry American Jesuit priest

William McSherry was an American Catholic priest and Jesuit. The son of Irish immigrants, McSherry was educated at Georgetown University, where he entered the Society of Jesus. As one of the first Americans to complete the traditional Jesuit course of training, he was sent to Rome to be educated for the priesthood. There, he made several discoveries of significant, forgotten holdings in the Jesuit archives, which improved historians' knowledge of early Maryland. McSherry went on to become the first provincial superior of the Jesuits' Maryland province from 1833 to 1837, during which time he laid the groundwork for the 1838 sale of the province's slaves. He then briefly became the President of Georgetown University from 1838 to 1839, and was appointed provincial superior for a second time during the latter year, which was the last of his life.

Anne Marie Becraft was an American educator and nun. One of the first African-American nuns in the Roman Catholic Church, she established a school for black girls in Washington, D.C.

Free Negro non-slave black in pre-emancipation USA

In United States history, a free Negro or free black was the legal status, in the geographic area of the United States, of blacks who were not slaves.

Isaac Hawkins Hall

Isaac was an enslaved man born around 1773 and is believed to have been baptized in 1777. Historical records do not provide a family name, so his descendants' surname Hawkins was assigned to him. Before the sale he lived on the Jesuits' White Marsh plantation near present-day Bowie, Maryland, and went on to have at least five children. He was 65 years old at the time of the sale in 1838. Most of his family members were also sold and were sent to Louisiana; his son Patrick arrived on the same ship as Isaac, and his grandson Cornelius was sent to Louisiana as well. His name does not appear on bills of sale from the 1850s that include his descendants, so Isaac is assumed to have died before then. [12] Isaac has living descendants as of 2017. [12] [13]

Isaac was chosen to represent the entire group for the building renaming because his name was first on the list of enslaved people sold. Georgetown historian Maurice Jackson said, "We thought if we take the name of the first person, in which some ways he becomes representative of the other enslaved black people sold". [12] [11] The building and an adjacent one had been built around 1833 and 1904, and housed Jesuits until 2004. After ten years of vacancy, they were renovated as student housing and opened in 2015. [14] [15]

In the February 5, 2019 episode of PBS's Finding Your Roots , actress S. Epatha Merkerson was revealed to be a descendant of Isaac Hawkins.

See also

Related Research Articles

The domestic slave trade, also known as the Second Middle Passage and the interregional slave trade, was the term for the domestic trade of slaves within the United States that reallocated slaves across states during the antebellum period. It was most significant in the early to mid-19th century, when historians estimate one million slaves were taken in a forced migration from the Upper South: Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, and the District of Columbia, to the territories and newly admitted states of the Deep South and the West Territories: Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Texas.

Henry Johnson (Louisiana politician) Governor of Louisiana

Henry S. Johnson was an attorney and politician, the fifth Governor of Louisiana (1824-1828). He also served as a United States representative and as a United States senator.

George Washington Barrow was an American politician and a member of the United States House of Representatives for Tennessee's 8th congressional district.

Isaac Hawkins may refer to:

History of slavery

The history of slavery spans many cultures, nationalities, and religions from ancient times to the present day. However the social, economic, and legal positions of slaves have differed vastly in different systems of slavery in different times and places.

History of Georgetown University

The history of Georgetown University spans nearly four hundred years, from the early settlement of America to the present day. Georgetown University has grown with both its city, Washington, D.C., and the United States, each of which date their founding to the period from 1788 to 1790. Georgetown's origins are in the establishment of the Maryland colony in the seventeenth-century. Bishop John Carroll established the school at its present location by the Potomac River after the American Revolution allowed for free religious practice.

<i>Twelve Years a Slave</i> 1853 Solomon Northup memoir

Twelve Years a Slave is an 1853 memoir and slave narrative by American Solomon Northup as told to and edited by David Wilson. Northup, a black man who was born free in New York state, details his being tricked to go to Washington, D.C., where he was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the Deep South. He was in bondage for 12 years in Louisiana before he was able to secretly get information to friends and family in New York, who in turn secured his release with the aid of the state. Northup's account provides extensive details on the slave markets in Washington, D.C. and New Orleans, and describes at length cotton and sugar cultivation and slave treatment on major plantations in Louisiana.

St. Thomas Manor

St. Thomas Manor (1741) is a historic home and Catholic church complex located near Port Tobacco, Charles County, Maryland. It is now known as St. Ignatius Church and Cemetery. The manor house complex is recognized as the oldest Jesuit residence in the world to have been continuously occupied by that order. The mission settlement of Chapel Point was started in 1641 by Father Andrew White, S.J., an English Jesuit missionary. He administered to the Potapoco Native Americans, some of whom he converted to Catholicism. Established in 1662, this is the oldest continuously active Roman Catholic parish in the Thirteen Colonies of North America founded by Great Britain. With the consecration in 1794 of Bishop John Carroll, St. Thomas became the first Roman Catholic see in the United States.

John McElroy (Jesuit) Jesuit Priest

John McElroy, S.J., was born in Ireland in 1782, and emigrated to the United States in 1803. McElroy enrolled in Georgetown University in 1806, the same year in which he joined the Society of Jesus as a lay brother. His brother Anthony also became a Jesuit. Fr. McElroy assumed the management of Georgetown's financial affairs. He was ordained a priest in 1817. In 1822 he was sent to Frederick, Maryland, where he was to remain for 23 years as pastor of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in downtown Frederick. It was in Frederick that he founded St. John's Literary Institution. During the Mexican–American War, McElroy served as an Army chaplain, and on his return from Mexico he went to Boston, where he established Boston College and Boston College High School.

Antebellum architecture

Antebellum architecture is the neoclassical architectural style characteristic of the 19th-century Southern United States, especially the Deep South, from after the birth of the United States with the American Revolution, to the start of the American Civil War. antebellum architecture is especially characterized by Georgian, Neo-classical, and Greek Revival style plantation homes and mansions.

History of slavery in Maryland

Slavery in Maryland lasted around 200 years, from its beginnings in 1642 when the first Africans were brought as slaves to St. Mary's City, Maryland, to then ways similar to neighboring Virginia. The early settlements and population centers of the province tended to cluster around the rivers and other waterways that empty into the Chesapeake Bay. Maryland planters cultivated tobacco as the chief commodity crop, as the market was strong in Europe. Tobacco was labor-intensive in both cultivation and processing, and planters struggled to manage workers as tobacco prices declined in the late 17th century, even as farms became larger and more efficient. At first, indentured servants from England supplied much of the necessary labor but, as their economy improved at home, fewer made passage to the colonies. Maryland colonists turned to importing indentured and enslaved Africans to satisfy the labor demand.

Marguerite Scypion American slave

Marguerite Scypion, also known in court files as Marguerite, was an African-Natchez woman, born into slavery in St. Louis, then located in French Upper Louisiana. She was held first by Joseph Tayon and later by Jean Pierre Chouteau, one of the most powerful men in the city.

Dahlgren Chapel of the Sacred Heart Church in Washington, D.C.

Dahlgren Chapel of the Sacred Heart, often shortened to Dahlgren Chapel, is a Roman Catholic chapel located in Dahlgren Quadrangle on the main campus of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Built in 1893, it is located in the historic center of the campus.

History of slavery in Louisiana

Following Robert Cavelier de La Salle establishing the French claim to the territory and the introduction of the name Louisiana, the first settlements in the southernmost portion of Louisiana were developed at present-day Biloxi (1699), Mobile (1702), Natchitoches (1714), and New Orleans (1718). Slavery was then established by European colonists.

Jesse Batey, alternately Jesse Beatty, was an American slaveowner and one of the primary beneficiaries of the 1838 Georgetown slave sale, in which the Jesuit order of Georgetown University negotiated the sale of 272 slaves to Louisianian slaveholders.

Jesuit Community Cemetery historic cemetery at Georgetown University

The Jesuit Community Cemetery on the campus of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., the final resting place for Jesuits who were affiliated with the university. It was first established in 1808 and was moved to its present location in 1854.

Thomas F. Mulledy American Jesuit priest

Thomas F. Mulledy, occasionally spelled Mullady, was an American Catholic priest from Virginia. He entered the Society of Jesus and was educated for the priesthood in Rome. He went on to become twice the President of Georgetown College in Washington, D.C. He also served as provincial superior of the Maryland province of the Jesuit order, during which time he orchestrated the sale of the province's slaves to settle its debts. This resulted in severe censure by the church authorities and his temporary exile from the United States. Following his return from Europe, he served as the first President of the College of the Holy Cross and oversaw its establishment, including the construction of its first building.


  1. 1 2 Quallen, Matthew. "Beyond the 272 Sold in 1838, Plotting the National Diaspora of Jesuit-Owned Slaves". The Hoya. Archived from the original on May 1, 2017. Retrieved April 28, 2017.
  2. King, Noel (April 26, 2017). "Georgetown, Louisiana, Part Two". Planet Money. Archived from the original on April 28, 2017. Retrieved April 28, 2017.
  3. 1 2 "What We Know Booklet". Georgetown Slavery Archive. 2015. Archived from the original on February 3, 2018. Retrieved February 3, 2018.
  4. Jonnalagadda, Deepika (April 12, 2019). "Students Endorse Reconciliation Fee in GU272 Referendum". The Hoya. Georgetown, D.C. Retrieved April 12, 2019.
  5. Champomier, P. A. (1861). "West Oak and Chatham plantations". Georgetown Slavery Archive. Archived from the original on February 3, 2018. Retrieved February 3, 2018.
  6. Van de Velde, James (March 28, 1848). "Letter from James Van de Velde, S.J. to Thomas Mulledy, S.J." Georgetown Slavery Archive. Archived from the original on June 3, 2017. Retrieved February 3, 2018.
  7. Swarns, Rachel L. (April 17, 2016). "272 Slaves Were Sold to Save Georgetown. What Does It Owe Their Descendants?". The New York Times. Archived from the original on March 6, 2017. Retrieved April 28, 2017.
  8. "Georgetown Shares Slavery, Memory, And Reconciliation Report, Racial Justice Steps". Georgetown University. September 1, 2016. Archived from the original on April 25, 2017. Retrieved April 28, 2017.
  9. "GU272 Descendants Association". Archived from the original on February 3, 2018. Retrieved February 3, 2018.
  10. Shaver, Katherine (November 15, 2015). "Georgetown University to rename two buildings that reflect school's ties to slavery". Washington Post. ISSN   0190-8286. Archived from the original on February 3, 2018. Retrieved February 2, 2018.
  11. 1 2 Cloherty, Megan (April 18, 2017). "Georgetown University confronts past of slavery, rededicates 2 buildings". WTOP. Archived from the original on July 5, 2017. Retrieved February 2, 2018.
  12. 1 2 3 "Georgetown to Rename Building for Isaac Hawkins, One of 272 Enslaved in 1838 Sale". Georgetown University. Retrieved February 2, 2018.
  13. Zauzmer, Julie (April 18, 2017). "Grappling with its history of slavery, Georgetown gathers descendants for a day of repentance". Washington Post. ISSN   0190-8286 . Retrieved February 2, 2018.
  14. "Ryan and Isaac Hawkins Halls". Keast & Hood. Retrieved February 2, 2018.
  15. "Ryan Hall & Isaac Hawkins Hall". Georgetown University. Retrieved February 2, 2018.