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James Calhoun (mayor of Baltimore)

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James Calhoun, first Mayor of Baltimore, Maryland.
James Calhoun, first Mayor of Baltimore, Maryland.

James Calhoun (April 17, 1743 -- August 14, 1816) was a politician from Maryland who served as the first mayor of Baltimore, from 1794 until 1804, when he resigned.

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  • ✪ African American Life in Washington, DC, Before Emancipation
  • ✪ War and Priests: Catholic Colleges and Slavery in the Age of Revolution, with Dr. Craig Wilder


>> Good evening. I'm David Ferriero, archivist of the United States. Whether you are here in the William G. McGowan Theater or joining us on our YouTube station, welcome to our discussion of African-American life in Washington, D.C., Before Emancipation. We are presenting this in partnership with the Museum of African-American History and Culture, the D.C. Commission on African-American Affairs and the D.C. Commission on Emancipation. Before we go further, I want to extend a special welcome to a remarkable woman in our audience. Virginia McLaurin is with us. A month after celebrating her 107th birthday. [ Applause ] In February she became an Internet dance sensation when she paid a visit to President and Mrs.Barack Obama at the White House. For more than 20 years Grandma Virginia, a long-time district resident, as she is known, has been a foster grandmother to city youth. Cheryl Christmas, the project director for foster grandparent program will now say a few words. [ Applause ] >> Good evening, everyone. How is everyone doing? Well, grandma and I just enjoyed all of the wonders here in the National Archives and we are just so proud to be a part of the showing of this exhibit. I just wanted to just take a couple moments. A lot of you know about Grandma. And we were talking about the history which I'm sure this exhibit is going to talk about. We have a program under the Corporation for National Community Services where we provide volunteer opportunities for some 200 seniors. I will tell you that the thing that bonds all of these seniors and Grandma, is the need for education of the children. As we look through history, we see that the only way that you break the tide of poverty, oppression, and all the things that we, as African-Americans, experience, is through opportunities of education. It starts early. I call them out of the war on poverty. They're my soldiers. Coming on buses, on foot, in cars. Every day like Grandma. She volunteers 40 hours a week at Ruth's public charter, working in pre-K classrooms. We work with educators on how we can help children to learn better. We were honored to be a part of this. I just wanted to share with you a little bit about our program. So whether you support us here or wherever it is that you're from, foster grandparents and how we make history is we connect the past with the present on to the future. So thank you so much. [ Applause ] >> Thank you, Cheryl. We're also pleased to have Secretary of the District of Columbia, Lauren Vaughn with us. The secretary oversees several offices. One of which is the office of public record and archives. Please welcome Secretary Vaughn. [ Applause ] >> Good evening. As previously stated, I'm Lauren Vaughn, Secretary of the District of Columbia. And I'm delighted to be here to bring greetings from Mayor Muriel Bowser, and thank you to John Franklin from the African-American Museum of African-American History and culture and thank you for hosting this event at the National Archives. As you know, Emancipation Day commemorates and celebrates the historic day when President Abraham Lincoln signed the Act in April of 1862. Freeing 3,185 enslaved people of African descent in the District of Columbia, before the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. This is the 154th anniversary of the important day that started the end much slavery in America. As the Secretary of the District of Columbia, there are many functions in my portfolio, including the office of the public records and the D.C. Archives. And I'm charged with the planning and execution of the city's activities to commemorate and celebrate Emancipation Day. This year our theme is a vision toward full democracy for the residents of the District of Columbia. And on Friday Mayor Bowser will host the first full democracy champions breakfast at the Willard Hotel. She will convene a panel of civil and voting rights experts to examine the path from slavery to emancipation with a vision toward full democracy. Then on Saturday, April 16th, the city will host the D.C. Emancipation Day parade down Pennsylvania Avenue, beginning at Seventh Street. Join the Mayor and the the council and D.C. public schools and community groups and residents and others to walk in the Emancipation Day parade. It begins at 1:00. If you would like to walk, it's not too late. Visit the Website and register at And I want to mention we will present a float in the parade that was built by Phelps High School students in collaboration with the Old Naval Hospital and the Executive Office of the Mayor. It was inspired by the events of April 16th, 1862. Following the parade the district will host the Emancipation Day truck touch in the 1300 block of Pennsylvania Avenue. Last year was the first time that Mayor Bowser, with the truck touch, was at the parade and the kids loved it. The grownups like it too. So I encourage you to come and have some fun. After the parade we will have the Emancipation Day concert for the rest of the afternoon right there on Freedom Plaza. All these activities are free and open to the public. And the evening will conclude with a fireworks display at 13th and Pennsylvania. I want to thank you again for coming out this evening and I hope that you all will join us for a weekend of fun and family-friendly activities. Thank you very much. [ Applause ] >> And here's a little tip if you're planning to come to the parade. The best place to watch the parade is from our steps on Constitution Avenue because the parade starts there. And now I'd like to tell you about two programs later this month in the theater. Thursday, April 21st at 7:00, we'll show the documentary film, "Eye on the '60s." The iconic photography of Rowland Scherman. Joined by Edith Lee-Payne, one of the most famous images taken at the March on Washington when she was 12 years old. The following week on Wednesday, April 27th at 7 p.m., Lee Hamilton, former U.S. representative will talk about his recent book, Congress, Presidents, and American politics: 50 years of writing and reflections. To learn more about these and our monthly calendar of events, there are copies in the lobby as well as online at There's a sign-up sheet in the lobby. You can receive it by regular mail or e-mail. And another way to get involved is to become a member of the National Archives foundation. Supporting our work in outreach and there are applications for membership in the lobby. And a little-known secret which I tell everyone is that no one has ever been turned down for membership in the archives foundation. From the earliest days of the direct of Columbia, slavery existed in the nation's capital. In the 19th century it was one of the most active slave depots in the country. Which antislave activists decried as a crisis to the nation. The page of the D.C. Emancipation Act of 1862 created a large body of records to picture the lives of enslaved people in Washington, D.C. These records, in the National archives have emancipation papers, affidavits of freedom and habeas corpus records. They offer us a window onto the lives of slave owners, slaves free blacks, and look at valuable historical and personal information for future generations. It's now my pleasure to introduce tonight's panelists. Our moderator is John W. Franklin, senior manager for external affairs although the National Museum of African-American History and Culture. Joining him is Dr. Mark Auslander, professor of anthropology at Central Washington University. Maurice Jackson, Georgetown University, and Dr. Nancy Bercaw and Mary Elliott, both curators at the National Museum of African-American History and Culture. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome our panel. [ Applause ] >> John Franklin: Good morning. And thank you, David. I have learned tonight that indeed this is the tenth year that we've had a program on D.C. Emancipation. We began at the National Museum of American History. And then it closed. And your predecessor, David, courteously invited us to use the National Archives for the program as long as we needed it. Now the National Museum of African-American History and Culture is opening in September. So we hope to maintain this partnership with you. [ Applause ] I've just been in Richmond where, indeed, Richmond has designed a slave trail. And you can go from the river and look at different signs. And there's a map with the locations all the way down to the different pens where the internal slave trade took place in Richmond. I remind you that this was not always our national capital. That Washington was preceded by Philadelphia and New York. And the decision was made in the late 1790s, as you see from the map on the upper left-hand corner, to create a federal city where there were plantations in southern Maryland. So slavery in this space precedes the creation of Washington. You can't see it clearly, but in the center of the map is a circle which is Jenkins Hill, which becomes Capitol Hill. And what we have on the map are the names of the plantations and the names of the owners, men and women, who owned the plantations from Mount Pleasant at the top of the map to Downingtown Pasture, which is where we're seated now. I mention women because two of the plantations on the right are owned by Widow Wheeler and widow Young. Women inherited the land of our husbands. They came with property. They came with slaves. So this is -- this anchors us into the past of this space. The map on the right is from 1836. From a broadside -- from a poster that you'll see later in the presentation called slave mart of America, published by the Antislavery society in 1937 in New York. And it has the location at the bottom of Neil's Prison, one of the two slave pens in this neighborhood. Where we are seated was the central market. And around us were many activities involving the slave trade. Seventh Street led to the river and to where the ships came in, bringing Africans off the ships to these slave pens. Always been a concern of mine that the most of the signage in the city says Civil War to civil rights and miss this is early period. So I have been agitating, surprise, for proper signage. And within this year we will see signage at the corner of Seventh and Independence. One signed called slavery in D.C. with a quote from President Lincoln who arrived here from Illinois and can see the slave pens from his office. There's a quote from Lincoln. And the second sign is a sign that says slave ten in D.C. -- Washington, D.C. And it has a quote from Solomon Northup who indeed was imprisoned there and describes it in his best-selling book from 1853 when he was released. But he describes it from 1841 when he's captured and made a slave in the city. I wanted my colleagues, before we start the presentation to talk about this neighborhood. Mary. >> Mary Elliott: When I think about this neighborhood, I had to do some research on the colonization, American colonization society, and what was powerful for me was understanding particularly where we are doing the slavery and freedom exhibition. There's emphasis on the fact that this is not just the story of slavery, but it's the story of slavery and freedom. And the thought of slavery and freedom, freedom in particular, before emancipation, and how that was viewed through many different lenses. And so I think of this particular space because it's my understanding that right where we have the National Council of Negro Women, the building at Seventh and Pennsylvania Avenue, there was a hotel connected to the building. And that was the hotel where some of the meetings to make the development, finally producing the colonization society took place. And the American colonization society brought together people with different views on slavery and freedom. Particularly looking at free people of color and saying they cannot live in a white society. So looking at where that freedom needed to be manifested. So that's what I think about with this space. It's such an interesting idea of here unfolding rite at that space the idea of sinking through freedom, but also right here all of the activity going on with slavery. So that's what comes to mind to me for this particular area. >> John Franklin: Nancy. >> Nancy Bercaw: Well, to build on what Mary is saying, I think -- and also what you said about Civil War to civil rights, that really those histories are so layered within this particular space. So that, you know, we think of our nation as really creating, you know, this land of freedom. But that it was built and so permeated with slavery. And whenever I hear you describe the city, I'm just struck by the fact that this was ordinary. This was normal. That people walked around this space without really thinking about it. We talk about the antislavery messages, but we also know that the majority of the people who were creating and running our nation's government were somehow comfortable with slavery. But then on the other hand to build on what Mary was saying about both slavery and freedom, we also know that there were freedom movements and freedom struggles that began long before the Civil War. So this space is also occupied with that. And just a final note, I'm so struck and always just -- I don't know the proper word to use. Overwhelmed by the fact that all of this history has been erased. And that we need everyone up here to recite it for us over and over again. And that it just disappears and slips through our fingers each time. >> John Franklin: Mark. >> Mark Auslander: One of the things we see on the map is the Washington canal, where Watergate is now, that's why we call it that. It was an important artery of commerce in the city. And we think about the history of capitalism in this region at a time when there was an enormous sort of crisis in agricultural production in the mid-Atlantic states. And we are quite horrifically, the selling of the people to the south was part of the motor. That's not coincidental, as we'll talk about. That we're seeing a number of the key slave pens and sale sites close by the, you know, close by the canal. But the canal itself is covered up. Of course the new museum has discovered the amount of underground water that -- >> Yes, we have. >> Mark Auslander: So that literal covering up is a nice example of what we heard about. We walk every day over this deep, enormously painful history where fantastic fortunes were made on the backs of both enslaved and exploited free persons of color we'll be hearing about this evening. >> John Franklin: Now, if you notice on the map -- you can't actually see it, on the map in the upper left-hand corner is Georgetown. My wife Karen and I were looking at a map in my father's library of the United States in 1776. Not only not including Washington, but many places we associate with this area do not exist. But Georgetown was there. As a community. And that's where our colleague, Maurice, works. So, Maurice, tell us about your neighborhood. >> Maurice Jackson: Well, before I do. I'm just elated that Grandma is here. We had a big event at Georgetown celebrating the republishing of the book, "Black Georgetown Remembered." I have my only copy. And many of the people you may well know. So I'll give it to you. [ Applause ] >> John Franklin: Thank you, Maurice. >> Maurice Jackson: Thank you. And thank Grandma. You're an inspiration to many young people. They should come out to events like you do. Well, I'll talk a bit about Georgetown. I should tell you that the President of the University sort of got with the program. As many Universities throughout the country started looking at how they were built, and many with slavery. Students have been protesting, nobody demanded anything of the President. So on his own, he's a scholar, he decided to establish a commission to study the slavery in Georgetown. The body has just now been formed. Where everyone could find them. The simple fact is that the Jesuits of Maryland owned many slaves. 272 of those lived there, farming 12,000 acres of land. Over time they saw the struggle for --for emancipation coming. In 1835 there were 127 abolition societies in Washington. In 1835, 1836, the Pinckney Gag Order was passed and stopped discussion. So the gentlemen of the Jesuit order saw the writing on the wall. They feared that emancipation may come, and they sold the slaves. They were sold down south. We don't know exactly where. The slaves were sold. I think they got about $15,000. We don't know. We do know in modern day now if it were computed, it could go up to $20 million. The value of the slaves, in fact, that were sold. So I'll speak a little bit more and show a PowerPoint and talk about it. >> John Franklin: You can begin with it. >> Maurice Jackson: Thank you. So -- oh. I better get mine where I can see it. I can't see that. >> John Franklin: There's one ahead of you. >> Maurice Jackson: But I can figure it out. So if you look at the numbers here, what you can see -- I have mine in the back. Here it is. I have it here. Forgive me. So as you can see up there, you can see the amount of slaves that were in Washington, D.C. at its founding. George Washington, before Johnny told you that they decided to settle it here, the name George. It was quite simple, trying to figure out where the capitol was. The revolutionaries went to Philadelphia to meet. The pensioners did not get their pensions, the revolution did not want to pay them. They ran to New York. Then they followed them to New York. They found they had to get to a place with no population. That's where we are now. George Washington said something very interesting. The time is now. Near at hand which must properly determine whether Americans ought to be free men or slaves, to conquer or to die. When he said that, he said that with no meaning of African-Americans. So you can see the way the city is settled and you can look at the charts there. The numbers, 1800, 14,000 population. But 783 are free and 3,000 slaves -- over a period of time you can see the chart and see how it develops. Very soon there were rumblings. And you can see there -- that's called a couple. And these were actually going up and down the street. Abraham Lincoln was in 1847, only two years in council. And he saw that and tried to get the people of D.C. to pass a bill against slavery. They wouldn't. And he said -- and I left the matter alone. Remember, he was just here for a short period of time. Here are some of the places where slavery existed. And this is a pretty good assembly of a slave quarter. You can see there. They live in sometimes a place in the back. Over a period of time, over years, many of you know about the development of alleys, an alley life in Washington. But they often lived in accommodations behind the house. Many were free and worked as craftsmen. And others worked as -- it wasn't slavery as we know in the fields. More of a domestic slavery. But slavery, nonetheless. Many of the slaves, maybe a generation or so from Africa, about 20% of that population was black. And in Georgetown, you know when the city was founded there was Washington City, there's Georgetown, and Washington County. And Washington is formed about 100 miles -- make it simple, a hundred square miles. You square every mile. So it comes up to about -- ten square miles. So it comes up about 100 square miles all over. So it's relatively small. 69 miles come from Maryland. 31 come from Virginia. And so the capitol is situated right in the slave place. Half of the blacks in the country live in Maryland and live in Virginia. A free black community develops over a period of time. And this is one man here. Some of you all have followed this man in the paper, or you know about his house. He bought a house in 1810 in Georgetown. The city now working to excavate it. He was born around 1736. Got his freedom about 1796. Bought a house about ten years later. He saved up once or twice. He saved up once to buy the house and then somebody bilked him out of the money and he was able to buy another. For example, this is here, and this painting by a man from Georgetown who discovered this. If you go into the Georgetown Library, someone messed up. But this was Alexander Simpson, who was an art teacher at Georgetown. This is the site in Georgetown where they are now excavating it. And this is James Johnson who wrote a book from slavery to Harvard about the experience of this man in Georgetown. These are some of the excavations of that place. This is Georgetown. This is a slave marriage license. You see slavery and churches are very interesting. If you know the words of the Battle Hymn of the Republic, he fought to make men holy, but he could not make men free. In the civil rights movement, they changed the words. But the first meaning means more. So the Catholic Church, like many, they want to make people holy. They were not making them holy for the slaves, but make them holy for themselves. And so they would often take the church -- the slaves to church. They would marry -- they would never grant them freedom. And many of these slave marriage licenses are held at Trinity Church there in Georgetown. Here's a deed of sale for the first slave that actually sold there. Here are some of the sites, I don't know pictures. The house still existing. And the cabin, had a wonderful line. And men came to Washington. The man to the tavern, the slaves to the jail. What she meant is the men would go upstairs to drink, tie their slaves down stairs in the bottom. You saw that. If you go to Virginia now, go to Franklin Olmsted, where the Urban League Headquarters are, you can see it. Many, many, Suter's Tavern, owned by John Suter, and McCandless' Tavern. The best way to figure out where this is, when you go get your Apple computer fixed and look across the street. There It is right there where these slave taverns were held. So slavery, you visited Georgetown along with at the University. It also existed as far up as the National Zoo. And this house has been torn down not too long ago. And the slaves were there before the National Zoo. >> John Franklin: This is now Smithsonian property. >> Maurice Jackson: Yes. And I had the name wrong, but this was the leading slave trader in America at the time. They had offices different places. You see, when we say slavery, Washington was a leading slave port. It did not mean we had more slaves, it meant we sold them here. Transported in and out, Union Station and other places. This was the leading place. With an office in Georgetown. Remember that Alexandria is a part of Virginia at that time. And Washington, something else, forced the Jesuits to sell the slaves. And that is the beginning of the abolitionist movement. And the epicurean society, there they would meet. And one night this young man, Arthur Bowen, a very young man, owned by Thornton. And the husband, Thornton, was the officer of the capital. We came home one night a bit inebriated. Knocked over a stick. And Thornton thought somebody broke in and Bowen ran out. Who was one of the neighbors? Francis Scott Key. And he was who? The district attorney. So he tried the case there. Of course, his brother-in-law was Roger Taney with the Dred Scott decision. I wonder why President Obama and others swear -- when they swear the oath, they swear it on this Bible. Many Presidents -- it's beyond me. But they bring the Bible out. But most Presidents are sworn on that Bible. For some reason. I don't know. Maybe it's historic -- but it is historic, but for the wrong reasons. Then -- then -- so they were just -- right now. When this happened a white man at the Navy yard started arriving. And they found this man -- found this man, Arthur Bowen. But this created a big commotion in Washington, D.C. But something else happened, and a man named Ruben Campbell. He was the brother of Prudence Campbell. He had been a northern abolitionist. Starts schools there. He was a man -- he had antislavery literature in his house. As soon as that happened, Francis Scott Key decided he was tied in with the society. He knew nothing. He just had literature. Washington, D.C., 1835 to 1837 becomes the center of abolitionism because of Congress. Many societies come and meet here. Other people, like others come, but they go to Baltimore. So here's a bit of what is happening around the time that Georgetown sells the slaves. They are not setting them outside of the interest of the University outside of getting money. It knows, in my opinion, that slavery would come to an end. Lastly, as we speak of Lincoln, he said when he came some years ago, if they could see the black man of the colored infantry marching and skirmishing on Andalusian Island, the war would end in a day. Because we did not want to muster blacks. Later he did muster blacks. And in the end I can come back to the words of Frederick Douglas about Washington, D.C. When D.C. we were told was passed nine months before. What he said, Douglas, as only he can say, the emancipation of Washington, D.C. was the doom of slavery in all the states. It was the end of the miserable states that juggled and deceived the people by refusing to reconcile with the people what is irreconciled. He said it's not stopping slavery, but killing the rebellion and the beginning of the end to both. Thank you. >> John Franklin: Thank you. [ Applause ] >> Mark Auslander: Well, Mark, I was reading secret city, talks about the history of African-Americans in Washington, D.C. I was born here, but I left very young. And now I'm working at the Smithsonian and I want to learn more about the city. And so I'm in Norfolk. And I come to the part of the book in the 1830s where they're talking about the slave markets in the city across from where the Smithsonian would be built. Now, you remember Smithson's request gives this $500,000 in gold for the creation of an institution in Washington for the increase and diffusion of knowledge. And you know where the Smithsonian Castle sits. Well, do you see how close that is to the slave pens we have been discussing in had the area? And Mark has been working on this period of the early part of the Smithsonian. Tell us about it, Mark. >> Mark Auslander: Yeah, thanks. First of all, it's an honor to be in the presence of Grandma Virginia. And an honor to be at the National Archives where so many of us very worked so long. And, of course, the holdings are extraordinary, as we heard. But I think it's important to acknowledge the extraordinary archival staff and others who have worked with the scholars to illuminate it the history of the slavery, especially in the district. People like Robert Ellis who worked so hard to illuminate the port and financial records we have here and cast a new light. And become important for institutions like the Smithsonian and the Federal Government. There's a wonderful quote by Theodore Dwight Weld. When he's here, writing back to his wife in 1842. He's in the district precisely to take on the Gag Rule. He's bringing all the famous antislavery petitions, defending John Quincy Adams, and the trial in the House of Representatives. And he's talking about the role of enslaved and also free messengers linked together. All these federal offices. And he has this great line. Who has been a slave holder in laying out the plan of the national buildings would have dreamed of locating all the departments and offices of the government which are employed at least 1,000 clerks and so forth. It reminds us what makes the district so interesting. There's many parallels in the stories we are talking about tonight in the stories of enslavement and freedom thought the United States. But there are some particularly interesting things about the Smithsonian. Which I have been fascinated by and I'm trying to finish up a book on African-American experiences and slavery and freedom at the Smithsonian Institution. We get a sense of the city here. And we see the canal, and you can just see the Smithsonian Castle building. Which was located directly across from the infamous Yellow House. See the map. We get a sense of these. And Jefferson Davis, one of the founding members of the Smithsonian. Defending the Yellow House, it's the house that all who wish to reach the building of the Smithsonian Institute. It looked so bad from the inside. Many people reported the screams and so forth that come from it. So it's important to remember how central the institution of slavery is. One of the things I look at actually is the story of the bequest where Smithson gets his money from. That's another story. Obviously the Atlantic slave trade is an important part of the story. But as we move on to -- and it's important to remember that the very day, of course, of Lincoln's inauguration, as we can see, there's a slave sale that's being announced. Even though supposedly the Compromise of 1850 ended the sale of enslaved people in the district. We know that sales took place in Alexandria. 1848, the year the construction begins on the Smithsonian building, what we call the Castle building, the greatest mass escape of enslaved people. And the stories of the families are extraordinary. The long story of self liberation before the emancipation bill that we celebrate tonight. And the sandstone of the castle, it's long been reported -- when I first worked in the castle building many, many years ago when I was in college, many older African-American guards recalled -- although it was contrary to the documentary record, that the red sandstone out of which the Smithsonian building was constructed had been quarried by enslaved people. And it turns out thanks to records we have been able to find here in the National Archives and elsewhere that that is well-substantiated. John Peter who was the great grandson of Washington was able to underbid other quarry owners. So the relevant congressional committee then arranges for the ironically entitled free stone to come down the canal and through the Washington Canal for the construction of the Smithsonian Castle building between 1848 and the early 1850s. And we have been able to identify, thanks to a series of sort of lucky or horrific historical accidents, the names of many of those enslaved people who match up, it turns out quite well, I won't go into the detailed stories. But Washington is full of these extremely complex histories of enslaved people who are moving themselves around. Who have free relations. Who are, in many cases, working hard to purchase freedom of loved ones. But are also making very tough decisions about when to do that. And these kinds of charts give us the sense of the different strategies as people are being inherited and moved around and so forth. Coming into, from Mount Vernon and some of the other Washington plantations, into Georgetown. And some of them eventually being sent up to upper Montgomery County doing agricultural work and so forth. The general pattern is of the enslaved labor within the district, it's closely tied with what's going on in Montgomery County and Prince George's County. Men are moving around a lot. Doing agricultural work and other kinds of activities. Women are somewhat more bound to location, not entirely. So we have many cases of enslaved people within the Peters network moving back and forth between Georgetown, Tenleytown, upper Montgomery County and so forth. That's an important part of the story. Some of them are objects of great complex suits. Which is how we know a lot about them. Especially with court records right here in this building. We can match up quite clearly the story of many of those enslaved families with the George Washington 1799 census from Mount Vernon. And we can trace over half a century the actual names of individuals. Some of them come into Georgetown and are sold away by the Peter family after the death of -- after certain deaths within the larger Washington clan as it were. And we can trace the families that are broken up. And that's, of course, a story we do want to remember tonight. Not all families were sold together. We have many cases, as you can see, of young children, some of the age of 4, to be sold off in order to pay for the construction of Tutor Place, one of the most magnificent structures in the city. Some are escaping, some self-liberating, some get to Pennsylvania. But as we match up the various names. We won't have time to go through this -- sorry. But we do get a sense of the very precarious lives that many enslaved people are doing. When I did travel up to the church out in Seneca, and my wife and I attended a worship service there, it was very interesting. The stories and the pride of the sense in that African-American congregation that has historical roots going back 175 years do endure. So there is that strong connection to -- to the Smithsonian. Which is very proud there. And recently Johnnetta Cole welcomed all the children from Sunday cool there to welcome their institution for all of the ironies and tragedies and so forth. But the Smithsonian has a fascinating antebellum history of free people of color. The most famous of them, of course, is Solomon Brown who works into the 20th century, a vast range of jobs. Very important. And James Gant, who had been the chief chef. He had been in the White House, then at the Navy yard, then at the National Institute. Which is a museum but then gets transferred to the Smithsonian soon after its formal establishment. The Smithsonian wasn't initially so much a museum as it was conceived of, at least by Joseph Henry, as an advanced research institute. He didn't like the idea of a museum. But James Gant comes in and a great defender of the museum with Solomon Brown. And they're competent in politics in the mid-19th century period. Between those who want to see it as a pure scientific institution, those who want to see it as -- as something that's really dedicated to mass communication. And that is directly mapped on to the struggle between John C. Calhoun and John Quincy Adams over the slavery question and over whether or not the Smithsonian's bequest should be developed. That's all swirling around. And we have extraordinarily rich letters by Solomon Brown who's very well known. But nonetheless after the passage -- after the so-called 1850 compromise from the passage of the fugitive slave act is himself imperiled. As well-known as he is, and he feels compelled, as we can see in the course of the 1850s, to get new freedom papers and so forth. So even the most established figures, he's a prominent intellectual in many senses, becomes quite important later in the Presbyterian Church, works closely on a wide range of cases. But up until the 1852 Emancipation Act, feels imperiled. But doesn't stop him from closely working with others. He's trying to save it. There are a number of cases where Joseph Henry is trying to sort of shut down -- shut down the museum part and -- and somehow various key congressional figures are notified and write to Joseph Henry. And we know from the correspondence that it's Solomon Brown who's guiding information in very fascinating ways. Even though there's a lot of tension that comes through in this correspondence. And it's also quite fascinating during -- when the confederate general crosses the Potomac, comes through Maryland, it's believed in 1864 that the District of Columbia may fall to the confederacy. The white staff has cleared out, the African-American staff remains behind. And Solomon Brown who had been charged with the protection of important objects in the National Museum collection arranges to bury them underneath the south tower and is ready. So that's an interesting little aspect of the history of the institution. And it just reminds us, I think, of the very fraught and complex position of free African-Americans during the period of slavery. Because he's also serving to advise and in some cases help fund friends and relations who are trying to purchase people. And I think that's one of the richest things about the compensated emancipation documents as we work through them. That we see a number of cases in which compensation is being sought by free people of color for their own spouses, children, so forth, who they have been partially able to liberate and so forth. And end with this story that speaks to the history of where I went, that was built on the highlands plantation. There's a group of enslaved people with the Nurse family. A senior official in the treasury department, the land of the National Cathedral. And in the emancipation documents we see William Brooks, himself been purchased as a 5-year-old child many years earlier from within Georgetown into the residence that's now Dumbarton House. And ends up in the area. He's free and seeking compensated emancipation for his wife, Rachel, and their five children in 1862. But it's interesting. Rachel has clearly thought of herself as free for a while. Because you can see the documents that she has initially written down her name as the co-owner of her children. And that the clerk has forced her to cross it out because technically she's not free yet. Although she conceives herself as a free woman. And listed in the 1860 census. She has to redefine herself precisely to the purpose that the family can get a little bit of money to set up their own household. And these are the sort of complex ironies that we continue to find. >> John Franklin: So you see where I asked Maurice and Mark to talk about these representative institutions. We think we know, but the history is so complex and so deep behind. Now, how is the National Museum of African-American History and Culture going to present this complex history of slavery and freedom in the museum that opens? September? Nancy and Mary? >> Mary Elliott: Funny you should ask. >> Nancy Bercaw: Well, Mary and I are co-curating the exhibition on "Slavery and Freedom." Which means we present together. Like we finish each other's sentences. But tonight we're trying to actually divide up our duties. [ Laughter ] So I'm going to begin. So what we're going to do today is to share some of the -- first of all the overarching goals of the "Slavery and Freedom" exhibition, and then to share some of our objects. And more importantly the stories that those objects tell. And then to talk a little bit about the philosophy for community collecting. So how is the museum, do we get outside those four walls and actually reach out to the community and bring community in? But first of all, since we're in D.C., we wanted to talk about the museum and the power of place. The fact that really this history, the history of slavery and freedom, has not been marked on the landscape. It's marked within our minds based on knowledge, customs, habits. But it's not been physically marked in Washington, D.C. So slavery throughout our country and really throughout most of the world, has been rendered invisible. Even though I would say -- we would say that the world that we live in today is the product of this form of slavery. So people might encounter slavery in school, they might encounter slavery in a textbook. But it's really absent from our public places. So what does it mean to finally create a building where slavery is going to have a very prominent place within it? We really want to emphasize the fact that, you know, when I say that slavery has been rendered invisible, it's been very difficult for us to even acquire the collections in order to make this exhibition. That all of the objects related to slavery have been tucked away, destroyed, kind of rendered invisible. So what our museum will be doing is creating this museum with a very public place that will start to bring these objects back in view. And I think that this is really important. That the Smithsonian is always known for displaying the real thing. And by supplying slavery and freedom people will be unable to walk away from that indisputable fact that this thing happened. So this exhibition will be placed within our museum. Which is in that little shaded location that you can see right there on the National Mall. So I think this is very important that we're actually bringing this history back to this place. Our museum is joining that long group of Smithsonian museums that you see on this map right here. And if you think of most of those museums and the stories they tell, they often are buildings that are like those buildings on the top there. Those are our National Buildings. It's the Capitol and the White House. And you can see that they're usually classical building. And with lots of columns and with lots of steps. And our museum is instead harkening back to an African and an African-American. And it's design and structure. And as importantly when you come to our museum, when you walk up to it, there are no steps involved. You simply walk into the first floor of the museum. There will be doors on all four sides. So it's a very welcoming place to encourage all visitors to come in. So it's not an intimidating building. So Mary and I are working on one of the three galleries. That's the Slavery and Freedom Gallery. All of them are 45,000 square feet. I have to read that to make sure that's true. That's an awesome amount of space devoted to African-American history. Our exhibit is on the first floor. So people will enter into our space, which is 18,000 square feet that is devoted to telling the history of slavery from 15th century Africa all the way up through the Civil War, emancipation, and reconstruction. So the themes that we, you know, it's pretty awesome -- pretty daunting project to try to take that history and even if you do have 18,000 square feet, how do you actually tell this story? So we decided that we were really going to focus on three principle themes. First of all that slavery is America's story. That slavery was everywhere within the United States. It was north, it was south, it was east, it was west. And that slavery was foundational to the building of our nation. And we can see that just based on the discussion that we've had about Washington, D.C. And the power of slavery within it. We also looked at the fact that slavery is always side by side with freedom. That the two are inextricably linked in our government, in our economy, but also in people's lives. And we also are always emphasizing the fact that we're viewing slavery through the African-American lens. So how do you take slavery and freedom and only view it from that perspective? So you're telling the American story, you're telling a shared story. But you're telling it through the lens of the African-American experience. So I see the slides have kind of taken off on their own. We do run into this problem. So at our museum not only will you see history on these three floors where you're really seeing the entire history of the nation, but you'll also can encounter on the upper floors in the arts floor, in community and in cultural, you encounter these same topics through the lens of music, through the lens of sports, through the lens of fine arts. So the museum is going to be a living museum where you can encounter these same themes and these same issues in very many different ways. So when most people -- we looked at other exhibitions and thought about how other people exhibited slavery. And you really see three principle tactics. When you go to many exhibitions on slavery, people focus on the institution of slavery. Those are the exhibits where you go in and you see a lot of hoes, a lot of plows, you see work, equipment, institutions, you see big houses, you see slave quarters. Other exhibitions focus on brutality and the horrors of slavery. So that's another common tactic. And the third is that people focus on resistance. And what we decided is that we wanted to really look at the complexity of the institution of slavery. Not to privilege one of those things, but to hold all of them together. To really view this through the lens of the African-American experience and focus on how people retained and also really emphasized their humanity within this institution. And that means that all of those things come into play. So we move from this typical picture where you usually see the big house, and we zoom in. And what we're doing is looking at this institution from the perspective of the people who lived through it. So this is picture that's been broken down that now with digital photography you can actually zoom in and see the amazing images of people within that image that ordinarily people would just see the big house. But instead we're looking at it from the perspective of those who worked and lived within that environment. So what we're looking at is really emphasizes that African people with African knowledges transformed landscapes such as this -- this is a gigantic cypress swamp -- that you would have encountered in most of America along the river ways. They transformed this vast cypress swamp into a workable agricultural fields that really financed the making of America. And built many of the structures including the Smithsonian, the White House, and the Capitol. So how do we unpack that? Well, we decided we wanted to do is to not turn away from the violence. Not turn away from the love and the joy. Not turn away from the brutality of the work. And not turn away from the pride that people took within their work. So what we do is we try to focus the exhibition on three. So first of all, focus on the individual. Take this man, Solomon Williams, for example. Solomon Williams was a blacksmith in Louisiana. He was a master blacksmith who was enslaved. And Solomon Williams constructed this amazing drill bit. This drill bit is almost four feet tall. It's a double helix drill bit he constructed out of iron. It took amazing mathematical precision to have the curves meet in that particular place. So we look at how lives and people -- we really look at life, work, and enslavement. This is how we examine people's work. Work wasn't just about enslavement, it was also about skill. Solomon Williams also used those same skills to create this grave marker that he constructed for his wife so that people within the institution of slavery, that slavery was not just about work, but slavery was also about family. And so he used those same skills and those same talents to honor a loved one. And we want to make sure that that's woven throughout the exhibit. And finally we also look at the brutality of slavery itself. Williams would have been forced to make restraints such as this one here. All of these things are the different aspects of his life. We hold them all in balance and hold them open with the contradictions really embedded in them. So that's just a general overview of some of the themes we try to hit throughout the show. And Mary is going to talk about the objects more. Which is always exciting. >> Mary Elliott: I'll give you a disclaimer, we show objects and it will loop through quickly. I'll allow it to loop through and then expound a little bit more on the objects. So the power of objects. You've heard from Nancy some of the wonderful information about the museum itself. And about the exhibition. One of the things that I think you probably noticed in Nancy's presentation is that juxtaposition of that profit and power with the human cost and we try to humanize this story of slavery and freedom. When we say humanize and talk about the story of slavery and freedom, we mean everybody. It's very inclusive. So that goes from the enslaved African, African-American, to the slave holder. As well as to a crew member on a slave ship. We want everyone to see themselves in this exhibit. So they can really understand what was going on in the world at that time. One of the things that's very important is, of course, it's always wonderful to talk about some of these larger themes through what would seemingly be a mundane object. The idea of two different people coming together looking at an object in a case and having different perspectives and engaging in conversation. And that conversation can evolve into discussions about community, about the nation, even about race. Here you see an image that is taken from an earlier exhibition that Nancy was one of the co-curator on, and that was the changing America exhibition. And the changing America exhibition, and please excuse me. I'm going let these loop through. See if I can get back. Yeah. If you don't mind. So the Changing America exhibition, you'll see in the top -- in the corner to the left there is Harriet Tubman shawl, and right below that is Nat Turner's Bible. And we can let it loop through. This is the amulet featured in the middle passage section. And the wages book from the crew members on the FOX slave ship. We have the powder horn, which is the powder horn that was owned by a black patriot during the revolutionary War. This is Peter Benson's silver teapot, produced by one of the few blacksmiths in the United States. A free African-American man. Or he was actually originally from St. Croix and was between St. Croix and Philadelphia. >> One of our first objects. >> Mary Elliott: We have a slave dealer's business card. This is an image of a young girl who is enslaved taking care of her charge. A young white child. And then we have the handheld Emancipation Proclamation. So if we pause right there, the objects that you just saw, again, like I said, they are seemingly mundane objects. But they're very powerful in that they tell the story of the making of the nation. And they tell very personal stories about Harriet Tubman and that beautiful ornate shawl that she worry. About Nat Turner and this Bible that he held that he preached to both whites and blacks. And he had this insight to pursue freedom and we were fortunate enough to get this Bible knowing that it was originally owned by one of the white families that had an ancestor in the insurrection led by Turner. And the amulet, to prevent them from being placed into the slave trade. And gives the resistance and resilience in the early slave trade period. And the fox wages book. Gives us insight into crew members who served on these slave ship who is made choices. Made moral choices whether to engage in this slave trade. Whether it was for money to take care of their family, passage to the new world, or just for profit. The powder horn is very important because it tells us the story of freedom by any means necessary. And that you had early on Africans in colonial North America who chose to fight for freedom. Choosing either side, as a patriot or a loyalist. Peter Benson's teapot really gives us the story of the free communities of color. And Peter Benson, the fluidity of his moving between the Caribbean and Philadelphia. And his role as a free person during this period of slavery. The slave dealer's business card is a very powerful reminder that, in fact, this slave trade was a business. And it does show us the story of profit and power. And that this business was no different than anything else. And people would hand out these cards in the process of selling humans. And the image of the young enslaved woman who was actually charged with taking care of this young lady. It's the idea of seeing this young woman and knowing that African-Americans, profit was made from their bodies and from their labor. And they still were human, just like anyone else, yet they were charged to take care of others in their enslavement. And then the hand-held Emancipation Proclamation was carried by Union soldiers to share the news that in fact freedom had come. So we're fortunate to have those objects. Now, I went through those objects rather quickly because really what I would like to share with you are some of the objects not on the slide show, but relevant to the story. That includes a slave ship manifest from Franklin and Armfield. One of the largest slave dealing companies here. And they were based out of Alexandria, Virginia. We also have American colonization society, membership papers. And, of course, it was formed, including with members, included Francis Scott Key, to send free African-Americans beyond the shores of North America back to Africa because it was believed that many of these free African-Americans would incite rebellions and cause strife in white society. We also have a story on petitions where you see African-Americans petitioning for freedom after this revolutionary War period. And then we also have freedom papers owned by a gentleman named Joseph Trammel. Those freedom papers we received from his descendants. He was based out of Virginia and created a hand held tin to carry the freedom papers to hold tight his freedom and ensure he would not be enslaved during this period before emancipation came. You can go to the next slide. So in addition to the objects we go outside. Beyond the walls of the museum. And we have to reach out to local communities. So Nancy and I actually just came back from travels. Nancy just came back from South Africa and I just came back from St. Croix. Nancy is working on a project with Brown University. And I'll let her expound on that. Talking about the transatlantic slave trade. And I'm working with a colleague on the slave project. Looking at the slave wrecks in the waters outside of St. Croix. But this object you see on the screen is a slave cabin. It's an antebellum period slave cabin that we got from the preservation society. They knew we were looking for a slave cabin and they were generous to offer this cabin to us. But it wasn't enough to get this slave cabin and put it on display. We needed to find the story about this site in South Carolina. We partnered with a young lady, Toni Carrier, over low country Africana, and she not only assisted with the research to authenticate the cabin, but looking to connect with the descendants of the slave community and the slave holding community. You see some of the descendants of the enslaved associated with this plantation. This was a very powerful event when we went down to dismantle the slave cabin, it took about a week. Nancy was down before I was and she got flooded with the media. But what was so powerful beyond all the interviews and the cameras was really more powerfully the interactions with the community members It was the conversations with the community members It was the discussion about the history of slavery in that place. And about the legacy of history. But even more powerful than that was every day the people who came to see this cabin be dismantled were, again, the descendants of the enslaved and the slave holding families. There were organic conversations. And we were able to make inroads with local churches and to have focus groups with church members. And while we met with church members from the historically black church, white community members came and engage the in those discussions. It was very powerful. And we found some people who actually discussed their being related to each other. Black and white together. Which is not surprising. But it was just powerful to see it in that space. There was a young lady there who recounted -- we asked her to speak for us in her Gullah dialect. She spoke and remembered the voice of her great-grandmother as she explained that the cabin was going to be moved to Washington, D.C. But the most powerful thing she said was, as she said she channeled her great-grandmother was that they found us. They found us. They know that we were here. And now everyone will know that we were here as they take this cabin to Washington. The descendants of the slave-holding family invited us to dinner at their home. And we went to their home and talked frankly about going from segregation to integration. We talked very frankly about what it was like to inherit this legacy. And we talked very frankly about what community means. And we did this again across section of races, ages, gender. That's what these objects do. Right? So what's very important is community goes beyond just people of African descent or just people who are not of African descent. It's everybody. This is the crew and myself, Nancy, and the descendants, and folks of the Island Historical Preservation Society. One last thing about this experience, the gentleman standing in the window with our colleague. His name is Mr. Meghan. And we had a point where there were so many people coming down and interviewing folks. So he allowed us to interview him. He was kind of like a curmudgeon. But at the end of the day he loved the whole experience and he looked forward as we continue to go down. So the crew members were made up of white, Latino, I don't think there were any African-American members of the crew. And even one Native American person of American Indian descent. We asked them to quiet down while we interviewed him. What you should know about the cabins is they were occupied until the 1980s. No running water, no electricity, right? He lived in those cabins in the 1930s, I think. So we asked him, what was that like? And he, you know -- he was pretty -- >> Nancy Bercaw: He used some colorful language. >> Mary Elliott: Yes. He didn't mince words. The crew members, they were quiet and kind of at the beginning of the process they were like why does this even matter? What's going on here? But they were doing their job. >> Nancy Bercaw: Why are they spending so much money on that old house? >> Mary Elliott: Yes. And they did a fabulous job. But when they were hushed to do the interview. He talked about how his mother made his underwear out of rice bags. And he talked about how they ate and cooked out in the yard. And afterwards all of the men on the crew -- you could see that they were just moved by this story. One of the gentlemen the next day came up to me and I told Nancy, he stopped me, and he said, you know, I just want you to know that you can tell that the multitudes are here right now. That the multitudes are here right now. It was based on this energy that was going through this entire process. So all the objects you see -- you'll see these objects. They'll be behind glass. But they are very powerful. And I hope everyone keeps that in mind to know that this is all of our story. Right? It's everybody's story. So just going through I want to share with you that -- and if you go to the next slide -- that we extend our reach again beyond these walls. So we have been in South Carolina, we had the good fortune of working down in Cane River, Louisiana. They helped with the story on Solomon Williams. Work with the Faith church in Connecticut. Nancy can expound on that. And we have thrilled that we can feature some early objects from Africa. And that is having worked with some of our colleagues down in Senegal in West Africa. So we're really thrilled about that. The story starts before the 15th century and goes all the way through 1876 just for our exhibit alone. And we continue to do outreach through the slave ship wreck project. And Nancy working on the collaborative on the transatlantic slave trade story. The next slide. >> John Franklin: We're going to need to open this for questions. If you have questions, please go to the mics in the aisle. >> Thank you. [ Applause ] >> John Franklin: Sir. >> The panel should be commended for such a fine presentation. But there are two pieces that are missing for me. Daniel Alexander Payne reports in his reflections of 70 years about his role as an advocate for the emancipation of blacks in Washington. And Constance also up in the city that there was something of a community that was going on between the free blacks and the enslaved blacks. And you can see this with Olivia Tanner and what she did, and metropolitan AME. But there seems to have been not only a cohesion in the black community that was based on community and compassion, but also that people had the ability to stand up and speak for themselves as their own advocates. Frederick Douglas is a perfect example. Can you talk about those dimensions for me please? >> Nancy Bercaw: We have a section in the exhibit on the free communities of color. We have a quote that talks about the free blacks and enslaved blacks. And we do show the collaborative effort of free and enslaved and we also talk about the spaces where they lived and how that enabled them to communicate. Whether it's in an urban setting or even some of the rural settings. That's how we speak to some of that in the story of free communities of color. And Nancy, I'm sure there's more you can share. >> Nancy Bercaw: It's interesting that you mention the churches. It definitely comes down to the churches. And we featured two churches on either end of the exhibition. And that definitely comes up within it. >> If I may add, Joseph Henry, the first secretary, denies Frederick Douglas the opportunity to speak at the institution for the debate on emancipation. >> Can I just add? >> John Franklin: Please. >> It goes to a deeper jump because I understand that Douglas was invited to speak at the castle and so keep him from speaking they refigured the whole -- I was told that was taken out. >> That's right. So because of the invitation to Frederick Douglas as part of this Civil War lecture series, all public lectures at the Smithsonian were suspended during the likes of Joseph Henry. And there's number two, who's essentially an abolitionist who becomes the new secretary. The public lecture series is restored. That's why just down the road we have the Spencer auditorium. But the point was profound and just made, there are very complex and important alliances. I mean, there are also points of division. Unquestionably. Including within the African-American population in the district. But the overwhelming tendency, I think you're right, is one of gradual self-liberation. And extremely sophisticated political activism. Frederick Douglas may be the most public voice, but hundreds are putting their lives on the line. And once other self-liberated people come across the Potomac into the city during the war. But all of that's been building for a long time. And it's wrong to simply see the Compensated Emancipation Bill as a gift solely from Congress. It's being forced in various ways through the alliances you're mentioning. >> John Franklin: Next question, please. >> Yes, I'm waiting anxiously to see the museum in September and experience the power you just spoke about. I'd like to understand how that power really is conveyed if it's behind glass. Are you complementing it with technology or those stories? Have you recorded those? Have you posted them? Can you give us some sense of how that happens? >> Mary Elliott: We actually recorded the young lady who spoke in Gullah. You will be able to see that. There's a documentary being put together now. Great museums is doing a piece on the museum itself. And they were down there filming that particular event. So you will see part of that. And we are using technology to expound a little bit more on some of these stories. But you'll also see some of this power through design. We -- we're very thoughtful about design. And I think you'll be very surprised how we have designed the space in ways that I know other museums have done wonderful jobs, but I'm really proud of what we have done with our design team to really make you stop and think about these subjects. We have a feature which will look at early legislation. And African-American voices speaking back to this legislation. So one of the things we encountered early on was people said, well, you can't really find, you know, first person voices so early. Particularly during that transatlantic slave trade period. You won't really find many voices speaking to legislation. But we did. And we found some fabulous quotes that I think will resonate with people. And it's the way we had designed these quotes to be presented that it's not just a blip on the screen. And so we -- it may sound odd, but you'll see when you get in how we designed it so it really does stand out. >> Nancy Bercaw: Yeah. And I really agree with what Mary was saying. All along the way we encountered resistance that this material didn't exist. But we dug and dug and dug. But I think it's the first person that's always privileged within the exhibition. It's really the concept of holding on to humanity. That means focusing on individuals. Focusing on the wholeness of an individual life. And so one of the technologies that we're actually using is the voice. So we're actually having people read. Actors are working on that right now. So read some of these first-person accounts so that you can get the feeling of the human voice. And, you know, this is not an easy topic to work on as you all can imagine. But after a while the one thing that really -- that really got to me was when I heard those actors reading. >> Mary Elliott: And just one last thing, we're looking at an oral history project to record some of the oral history -- histories of the donors who donated very personal objects from their descendants. >> Nancy Bercaw: Oh, and one other thing, they might be objects behind glass, but I really believe in the power of the object. So our objects are living things. Like what happened with that cabin, that was a presence. And I really think even with these objects behind glass, they speak to you. That they are there. They are present. They cannot be denied. And so I don't think, you know, seeing an image of an object would be the same. These objects have a power. >> John Franklin: Question here, please. >> Yes. I'm just -- one of the things I enjoy about D.C. now is when you take one of the earlier integrated neighborhoods of Georgetown, now it's one of the places that's probably one of our least integrated neighborhoods because of how socioeconomics and how it's moved. But we have some of the tiny houses. One of the things I told my niece and nephew, hoping I'm not lying to them, but I could be, whatever. There's this one eight foot house. So the story I have given to them, and if it's true, great, if not, it's still a wonderful story. That, you know, somebody who was a craftsman saved up some money, got that chunk of land and they said what do you want with this piece of land? Well, he had the two walls of the building on the side. And he built one in front and one in back, and that's a house. That's the kind of story I would give to them. But could you talk about Georgetown. You were talking about the Jesuits and the $20 million that they made on their sale which was of expediency rather than of ethics. >> Well, it would be $20 million in today's money. You know, it's very difficult, at least for me, to question it. When one says something I generally take them at it. And in this case, you know, it becomes two questions. One was that did people who want to end slavery want to end it for economic reasons or moral reasons or what? And they made a decision. They made the decision that they were going to lose the slaves. Now the big question was, there were certain people there who were antislavery. They weren't American, they didn't live here. But by human nature they thought that slavery was wrong. And there have been many Europeans throughout, the enlightenment and others. So the Jesuits had that complex. At a time they wanted to save -- save it. You know, when America is founded certain early people said this. They said we don't like slavery, but in order to preserve slavery, democracy is necessary. Now, it seems crazy. But that was said even of historians even now, some will say that. Some say American democracy would not have been the same -- now, we never got the chance to find out if that was the case. There are all of these contradictions that exist. They exist with society. You mentioned today, philosophically it is unconscionable to me that we live in a city. The gentlemen talk about black history. But it's much deeper than that. It's unconscionable to me we can live in a city and see this going on at the same time that we put people out on the street and deny it. So you see, there's all this, not just white and not just black. We see them going up all the time. Georgetown and the people of Georgetown take love in the fact that they were the first. The fact is many people willingly left Georgetown because it was segregated. Because they could not go into schools. If you lived in Georgetown at 37th Street, you had to walk. You didn't have housing inside. All these contradictions that make places change. So the Jesuits are no different than anyone else. They're conflicted with these ideas. Were they wrong? Absolutely. But they were conflicted and they probably thought what they were doing was right. No different than what Lee may have felt he was doing. Absolutely was wrong. Now that we saw in the Washington Post today, a 25-year-old man who is now free from the Klan. So it exists, and now our job is to try to weave through it and especially in a city like we live in now. I have been here a long time. And what has struck me about this city is that there's so many opportunities to learn so much. You don't have to have money. All you have to do is go to the museum. All you have to do is walk around. And I come from a pretty poor family. You can look. And the chance to look at those contradictions are all over. And so to have a museum like this is a phenomenal thing. Regardless of what -- of what the barriers and things may be. We have the opportunity to grab something and to understand it. And teach our children. It's -- it is a great moment for a city that I don't think has all that many bright directions going on right now. >> John Franklin: Two last questions, please. Ask the questions and then we'll respond. >> All right. Two points. One is my wife and I visited this plantation in Louisiana dedicated to slavery. I don't know if you have been there or not. And they had, just as a point, they had recordings of people that were slaves. And these recordings were made by the -- one of the federal projects during the depression. And you were talking about having actors. Are you going to use those same kind of recordings? >> Mary Elliott: Yes, we are. And we are very selective and you'll hear a cross-section of experiences of the enslaved. But just so you know, we do the same for the transatlantic slave trade. Powerful quotes, and you will find the quotes are of enslaved Africans and European observers of the trade. So we have included everybody. Yeah. >> Okay. But my question is this. When I hear about the American Indian Museum, they said the purpose of the American Indian Museum was to prove that those people are still here and moving ahead and making things better. If there was a one-liner to summarize the African-American Museum, which sounds like it's going to be dynamite, which one-liner -- how would you put that? >> Mary Elliott: We'll both do one. And John. For me it would be the National Museum of African-American History and Culture looks at the American story through the African-American lens and brings together the collective story, the inclusive story, a story of the harsh realities of slavery in America for this particular exhibit. And the resistance and the resilience and the humanity even under the most inhumane conditions. [ Applause ] >> John Franklin: Last question. >> Yes, hopefully I can get two in. First question, you piqued my interest when you talked about the idea that you might look at slavery in Africa and talk about that. And I wonder if you could maybe go into a little bit about how you address what is potentially an exciting topic. And then second, you know, I'm somebody that's interested in the Civil War. And one of the things I have often heard people talk about is this idea of slavery and how poor whites were pressed. And I'm wondering if you do any comparison or juxtaposition -- juxtapose or whatever to try to get people and insight into exactly what was the difference between being, say, an African-American and a white person. And maybe give people an idea of just how different those experiences are. Because for some people, you know, they posit that for certain groups there wasn't that much of a difference. Do you know what I mean? >> Yeah. >> John Franklin: Thank you. >> Mary Elliott: You want to go again? >> Nancy Bercaw: So I think you mentioned during the antebellum period about poor whites. We start from the colonial period, colonial North America and we talk about the fluidity of status. And we talk about the development of slavery. And we talk about the development of slavery through laws. And we also discussed how those laws came about. And what was going on socially as well as about Africans in colonial North America. Being engaged with whites. Whether it's through labor, through leisure, and, you know, other means. And so we break down how at some point the law starts to make the distinction. But we do talk about poor whites, yeoman farmers, enslaved Africans and free blacks. So we try and lay out the foundation of the many different steps of the people and what that means. >> Do we differentiate between slavery in Africa and slavery in the Americas? >> Yes, we make the distinction once we get to the transatlantic slave trade how it's for commercialized. And we talk about old world slavery and new world slavery. So we make those distinctions. You asked about the early period and slavery in Africa as well. And we also bring that into the context of the discussion about Africans being involved in the slave trade. So all of that will be in there. >> Sorry, I cut you off. >> Mary Elliott: You were asking if people would see the difference between quote, unquote, waged slavery and slavery in the exhibit. You can't go through the exhibit without seeing people bought and sold. So the definitions are there and are very clear. And we also look at industrialization in the north because we look at cotton and really how cotton is the drive of not just, you know, the southern economy, but of the national economy and also the nation's expansion. So we bring in some of what's going on across the nation and not just a localized history. >> John Franklin: Any final comments from my members? >> Mark Auslander: I just wanted to speak, that's such an important question. Many neo-confederates these days resume that language that we got from many confederates about wage slavery. And there's certainly plenty of cases in American history and elsewhere of profound oppression of people who are not of color associated with industrialization. In fact, the sort of production side of -- milling site and so forth of the economy and so forth. But the difference is, what Orlando Patterson and other historians remind us that the white working class was systemically subject to both structural and physical violence. Because at times they withdrew consent. But the entire chattel slavery system is predicated on an increasingly racialized idea that any person of color can at any moment be subject to loss of life. To tortures -- to be torn apart -- have having their families torn apart and so forth. That's the very definition of what humanity comes to mean if a dominant American vision is kind of predicated on a kind of contrast with blackness. And those are the staggering crimes. We're talking about the continuity we see in this city. Whether or not we're talking about elsewhere in the United States, whether or not we're looking at homelessness, whether or not we're looking at mass incarceration. And uncontrolled violence against especially young men of color. And there are direct continuities. That particular structure that we are still trying to exorcise from this policy. And the museum is the symbolic heart of the city, the former grounds of the Washington Monument we are holding up a new lens to take apart that nonsensical, idiotic and horrific contrast between humanity and blackness. And that is the most, I think, sacred mission that all of us are engaged in. >> John Franklin: Maurice. >> Maurice Jackson: Yes, thank you. And in light of all of those questions, I invite all of you willing to come to Georgetown next week, on April 19th, Edward Baptiste. He's written a wonderful book, "The Half Has Never been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism." And it goes into just what I said. It's a wonderful thesis on how slavery was the foundation -- slavery was not just a southern institution. But a northern institution, property owners. So April 19th, Georgetown Website. Then April 24th, another was created. And this book, ebony and ivory. Notice the ebony and ivory he will speak there. The first at 7:00 on April 19th. The second, April 21st at 12:30. John will be there? >> No. >> Maurice Jackson: Oh. And the author that will be speaking at another event that night on the 200th anniversary of Georgetown. 7:00. So come and see it again. >> John Franklin: Please join me in thanking this wonderful panel. [ Applause ] Good night.


Calhoun was born in Carlisle, Pennsylvania on April 17, 1743. He settled in Baltimore in 1771, where he became a successful merchant and businessman, including serving as president of the Chesapeake Insurance Company.

During the American Revolution he served in several positions to benefit the Patriot cause, including deputy commissary general and an officer in the local militia.

In addition to his business career, Calhoun was involved in local politics and government, including judge of the orphans' court.

When Baltimore was incorporated as a city, Calhoun was chosen as mayor, and he served three terms and part of a fourth, 1794 to 1804.

He died on August 14, 1816, and was buried at Baltimore's Westminster Burying Ground.


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