Johns Hopkins, founder of Johns Hopkins University, was revealed Thursday to have owned slaves during his lifetime, despite his abolitionist legacy.
“For most of the last century, our institutions believed Johns Hopkins to be an early and staunch abolitionist whose father, a committed Quaker, had freed the family’s enslaved people in 1807,” university leaders wrote in a letter to the Johns Hopkins community. “We now have government census records that state Mr. Hopkins was the owner of one enslaved person listed in his household in 1840 and four enslaved people listed in 1850.” (RELATED: Study Finds That Founding Father Alexander Hamilton Owned And Sold Slaves)
The university also posted a video to Twitter outlining details of the discovery.
As shared with our community today, we have uncovered significant new information about our founder. In contrast with the longstanding narrative that Mr. Johns Hopkins was an early abolitionist, census records show he was a slaveholder during the mid-1800s. pic.twitter.com/qBwtWtFn6s
— Johns Hopkins University (@JohnsHopkins) December 9, 2020
Johns Hopkins founded the first research university in the United States in 1876 and founded a hospital in 1889, which extended its care to anyone in Baltimore regardless of race, according to the letter.
University officials wrote, “The fact that Mr. Hopkins had, at any time in his life, a direct connection to slavery—a crime against humanity that tragically persisted in the state of Maryland until 1864—is a difficult revelation for us, as we know it will be for our community, at home and abroad, and most especially our Black faculty, students, staff, and alumni.”