|This paper was orginally written by me as a project at Johns Hopkins University in 1991 for the
Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission. Since being written it was
published and has since been out of publication for many years. To make it more interesting
for me I have never seen the final copy so parts of this new edition may have been in my
original but not the published copy and I have added more as space on the internet is greater.
The book however, is referenced throughout the internet and its time to publish it in internet
form where it may become more useful as I add new material and links to more
documentation. Hopefully you will find this information useful. If you have any additions or
comments you may contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Supplimental note: Some of you may know that my History of St. Augustine started out as a
web come on for history tours that I conducted in St. Augustine several years ago (not a very
successful business I might add ---- beaten down by ghost tours). That web book is a giant
collection of add-ons, research and part of the genealogy journal that my wife and I edited for
years. Placing this book "An Introduction into the History of Slavery in Prince George's
County, Md" onto the internet was a new and very different challenge. I could have simply
typed it in but that would have been a great disservice to the reader as the internet offers so
many possibilities. So at a very slow pace I'm creating my first non-linear book. I would like to
thank the Maryland Archives (the best archives I have every been to) with the information on
the Maryland Assembly that they have put on line. This enabled me to easily link up with a full
reading of Assembly bills for the reader who wanted greater research. With some luck and
much time I should be able to add my larger pile of information from Freemen Bureau schools
to this document and connect some of the dots.
* * *
This document's purpose is to give the classroom teacher an extensive backgrounhd into
slavery as it relates to Prince George's County, Maryland. Slavery was a local institution, but
not removed from its state and national setting, so various sections will relate the the Federal
and State government.
This document uses as far as possible the names of slaves, freedment and their masters. Every
student of the institution of slavery should be encouraged to place a human face on slavery
understanding slaves as flesh and blood (like themselves) not property. Discussing slavery as
an abstract institution is the same form of dehumanization that defenders of the institution of
slavery used in the 19th century. These slaves, masters, and freedmen are people like us
confronting their world through their own cultures, hopes and dreams.
We have instutionalized many of the names of slave holders and defenders of slavery today in
the naming of our schools, streets and communities. However, Prince Georges County has its
share of African-American heroes and heroines. We have Ann Joice, Adam Plummer, Henry
and George Hatton, and Jack Ransom, to name a few.
In the beginning there was no slavery in Maryland. A black mulatto (Matthias Sousa) was a
member of the group on the Ark and the Dove. He was the first black to vote and the first
black to hold office in Maryland. The instincts of the early colonists were for survival and not
racial prejudice. Prejudice and racism would follow in the next generation. (Site of the landing
and link to early history)
The principal crop of the new colony of Maryland was tobacco. While demanding a good price
in Europe, it drained the soil of its nutrients and the people of their health and, through the
economic system used to produce it, their moral fiber. Tobacco was a labor-intensive crop and
slaves were at a premium in its farming.
All colonies had slaves. From Massachusetts and Rhode Island, through New England, New
York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland to Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia
slavery was established as an institution in the new world. After the Republic was formed
slavery would wither away throughout the land above the Mason-Dixon Line. Yet the north's
slavery remnants persisted throughout the first part of the nineteenth century.
In Maryland, the southern half of the state remained a strong slave holding area. The
northern and western parts, along with the City of Baltimore, refrained from the use of slave
labor and Baltimore would become the southern city with the largest free black population.
Slaves did not always grow tobacco, the could produce large acreage of wheat. They could also
"grow" other slaves for export south. New Orleans became a destination for many Prince
George's slaves. Prince George's became firmly rooted in the tobacco culture and the slavery
that maintained it.