African Presence in Maryland

This is the 7th of our Wednesday series that highlights historic Middle Passage/UNESCO Site of Memory markers that have been installed and those locations where a remembrance ceremony was held since MPCPMP incorporated 9 years ago. MPCMP is/was involved in the planning for the installation of most of these markers (indicated by an * next to the state name), and other organizations are/were responsible for some.

Maryland*

Known as the “Free State,” Maryland has a long history of forced servitude that began when the first documented Africans arrived in bondage in 1642 at St. Mary’s City, the first English settlement in the province. Africans and their descendants played a major role in shaping the state, laboring on “the tobacco plantations that fueled the colony’s economic growth during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The fortunes amassed from the unpaid labor of enslaved workers allowed Maryland’s gentry to dominate colonial politics” and filled the coffers of the colony’s wealthy, white, planter class while leaving an impoverished, black population in its wake. Between 1662-1774, there were 56 ships delivering 10,185 captive children, women, and men from West Africa (Ghana, Senegal, Gambia, Nigeria, Angola), East Africa (Madagascar) and other unspecified areas to often unidentified locations in the colony/state. It was the home of the largest population of free Blacks in the United States prior to the Civil War and the birthplace of prominent abolitionists Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman. During the Civil War, it remained part of the Union as a “slave state” and did not abolish the practice until 1864, a few months before the 13th Amendment was approved by the U.S. Congress.

On September 21, 1720, the Generous Jenny, a ship that left London for the Cape Coast Castle on the Gold Coast of Africa with the order to acquire 260 people, arrived at Sotterley Plantation on the Patuxent River with 211 men, women, and children in bondage. In November 2014, the plantation installed a historic marker honoring those Africans and their descendants. Currently, there are plans to install markers in Annapolis, Baltimore, and Historic London Town. on the South River in Edgewater Please follow this link to read more about Maryland and slavery and to find resources at the end of this article for additional information: https://msa.maryland.gov/…/intromsa/pdf/slavery_pamphlet.pdf

Middle Passage marker Installed November 2014 at Historic Sotterley Plantation.
Photo L-R: MPCPMP Executive Director Ann Chinn; Executive Board member Ann Cobb; and the Edwards family honor African ancestors at November 2014 marker installation.
Cabins that served as homes for the enslaved at St. Mary’s Manor Plantation that “stood in what once was the heart of St. Mary’s City.” (https://smnewsnet.com/archives/28395/slavery-and-freedom-at-st-marys-manor-online/)
Photo credit: smnewsnet.com
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