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Slavery in Maryland

A guide to the history of slavery in Maryland leading up to the Civil War, using materials from the University of Maryland Special Collections in Hornbake Library.

Timeline of slavery in Maryland

1634- English settlers found St. Mary's City in Southern Maryland.

1642- Mathias De Sousa, a former indentured servant in Maryland, votes as a freeman in the Maryland Propietary Assembly. 

1642- The first cargo ship with 13 Africans arrives in St. Mary's City.  The legal status of indentured servants and slaves in Maryland remains in contention.   

1664- Maryland legalizes slavery.

1775- The Revolutionary War begins.

1783- Maryland prohibits the importation of slaves. 

1783- The Maryland Gazette published "Vox Africanorum", an editorial denouncing the inequality in the newly formed America, which promoted liberty and freedom while enslaving thousands.

1789- Josiah Henson, believed to have inspired the title character in Uncle Tom's Cabin, is born in Charles County, Maryland.

1789- Anti-slavery advocates found the Maryland Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery and for Relief of Poor Negroes and Others Unlawfully Held in Bondage. 

1796- The Maryland General Assembly liberalizes the state's manumission laws regarding how and when a slave owner can free his/her slaves.

1802- Maryland General Assembly declares that free black men cannot vote.

1818- Frederick Douglass is born in Talbout County, Maryland.

1822- Hariet Tubman is born in Dorchester County, Maryland.

1831- The Maryland Colonizational Society forms to colonize Maryland blacks in Africa.

1832- In response to the Nat Turner Revolt, Maryland's legislature prohibits free blacks from entereing the state.

1838- Frederick Douglass escapes from slavery in Baltimore, publishes his first autiobiography 7 years later.  

1849- Hariet Tubman escapes from slavery. In the years that follow, she mounts numerous missions into Maryland's Eastern Shore to lead enslaved blacks to freedom.

1852- Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe is published.

1857- The U.S. Supreme Court hands down the Dred Scott decision, which denied African Americans equal rights as citizens.

1860- The Maryland General Assembly outlaws manumission by deed or will.

1861- The Civil War begins.

1862- Slavery is abolished in District of Columbia.

1863- Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation, which frees all slaves in the territories currently in rebellion.

1864- On November 1, slavery is abolished in Maryland.

1865- Slavery is abolished in all of the states by the 13th Amendment.

Taken, in part, from Berlin, Ira.  A Guide to the History of Slavery in Maryland.  (Annapolis, MD: Maryland State Archives, 2008), 27-29

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