Surprise, surprise. Despite being portrayed as a staunch abolitionist, John Hopkins owned slaves until AT LEAST 1850.
The Johns Hopkins University announced on Wednesday that their founder was indeed a slave owner, even though they had previously celebrated him being against slavery.
According to researchers, the information was discovered in government census records during an exploration of the university’s history.
The long-held narrative of an abolitionist Hopkins whose father had freed the family's slaves in 1807 came into question over the past several months.
'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,' President Ronald J. Daniels and other school officials wrote in a letter to the Johns Hopkins community.
'By the 1860 census, there are no enslaved persons listed in the household.'
Daniels revealed that learning the news that Hopkins owned slaves was “obviously extremely painful.”
“You want your origin story to be more than mythical. For an origin story to be foundational and durable, it also has to be true,” he added.
The officials said the school, whose researchers have been at the forefront of the global response to COVID-19, will continue researching Hopkins' life in the coming months to 'have a full picture,' as a complete biography of the university's founder does not exist.
'These newly discovered census records complicate the understanding we have long had of Johns Hopkins as our founder,' they said, pointing to Hopkins calls to trustees to create an orphanage for black children in Baltimore.
He had allegedly also asked for the hospital he created to serve the city’s poor 'without regard to sex, age or color'.
Yet officials said this did not excuse any ties to slavery.
'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,' they wrote.
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