In 1838, the Jesuit priests who ran the country’s top Catholic university needed money to keep it alive. Now comes the task of making amends.
But on this day, in the fall of 1838, no one was spared: not the 2-month-old baby and her mother, not the field hands, not the shoemaker and not Cornelius Hawkins, who was about 13 years old when he was forced onboard.
Their panic and desperation would be mostly forgotten for more than a century. But this was no ordinary slave sale. The enslaved African-Americans had belonged to the nation’s most prominent Jesuit priests. And they were sold, along with scores of others, to help secure the future of the premier Catholic institution of higher learning at the time, known today as Georgetown University.
Now, with racial protests roiling college campuses, an unusual collection of Georgetown professors, students, alumni and genealogists is trying to find out what happened to those 272 men, women and children. And they are confronting a particularly wrenching question: What, if anything, is owed to the descendants of slaves who were sold to help ensure the college’s survival?
More than a dozen universities — including Brown, Columbia, Harvard and the University of Virginia — have publicly recognized their ties to slavery and the slave trade. But the 1838 slave sale organized by the Jesuits, who founded and ran Georgetown, stands out for its sheer size, historians say.
At Georgetown, slavery and scholarship were inextricably linked. The college relied on Jesuit plantations in Maryland to help finance its operations, university officials say. (Slaves were often donated by prosperous parishioners.) And the 1838 sale — worth about $3.3 million in today’s dollars — was organized by two of Georgetown’s early presidents, both Jesuit priests.
Some of that money helped to pay off the debts of the struggling college.
“The university itself owes its existence to this history,” said Adam Rothman, a historian at Georgetown and a member of a university working group that is studying ways for the institution to acknowledge and try to make amends for its tangled roots in slavery.
Although the working group was established in August, it was student demonstrations at Georgetown in the fall that helped to galvanize alumni and gave new urgency to the administration’s efforts.
The students organized a protest and a sit-in, using the hashtag #GU272 for the slaves who were sold. In November, the university agreed to remove the names of the Rev. Thomas F. Mulledy and the Rev. William McSherry, the college presidents involved in the sale, from two campus buildings.
An alumnus, following the protest from afar, wondered if more needed to be done.
That alumnus, Richard J. Cellini, the chief executive of a technology company and a practicing Catholic, was troubled that neither the Jesuits nor university officials had tried to trace the lives of the enslaved African-Americans or compensate their progeny.
Mr. Cellini is an unlikely racial crusader. A white man, he admitted that he had never spent much time thinking about slavery or African-American history.
But he said he could not stop thinking about the slaves, whose names had been in Georgetown’s archives for decades.
“This is not a disembodied group of people, who are nameless and faceless,” said Mr. Cellini, 52, whose company, Briefcase Analytics, is based in Cambridge, Mass. “These are real people with real names and real descendants.”
Within two weeks, Mr. Cellini had set up a nonprofit, the Georgetown Memory Project, hired eight genealogists and raised more than $10,000 from fellow alumni to finance their research.
Dr. Rothman, the Georgetown historian, heard about Mr. Cellini’s efforts and let him know that he and several of his students were also tracing the slaves. Soon, the two men and their teams were working on parallel tracks.
What has emerged from their research, and that of other scholars, is a glimpse of an insular world dominated by priests who required their slaves to attend Mass for the sake of their salvation, but also whipped and sold some of them. The records describe runaways, harsh plantation conditions and the anguish voiced by some Jesuits over their participation in a system of forced servitude.
“A microcosm of the whole history of American slavery,” Dr. Rothman said.
The enslaved were grandmothers and grandfathers, carpenters and blacksmiths, pregnant women and anxious fathers, children and infants, who were fearful, bewildered and despairing as they saw their families and communities ripped apart by the sale of 1838.
The hope was to eventually identify the slaves’ descendants. By the end of December, one of Mr. Cellini’s genealogists felt confident that she had found a strong test case: the family of the boy, Cornelius Hawkins.
There are no surviving images of Cornelius, no letters or journals that offer a look into his last hours on a Jesuit plantation in Maryland.
He was not yet five feet tall when he sailed onboard the Katharine Jackson, one of several vessels that carried the slaves to the port of New Orleans.
An inspector scrutinized the cargo on Dec. 6, 1838. “Examined and found correct,” he wrote of Cornelius and the 129 other people he found on the ship.
The notation betrayed no hint of the turmoil on board. But priests at the Jesuit plantations recounted the panic and fear they witnessed when the slaves departed.
Some children were sold without their parents, records show, and slaves were “dragged off by force to the ship,” the Rev. Thomas Lilly reported. Others, including two of Cornelius’s uncles, ran away before they could be captured.
But few were lucky enough to escape. The Rev. Peter Havermans wrote of an elderly woman who fell to her knees, begging to know what she had done to deserve such a fate, according to Robert Emmett Curran, a retired Georgetown historian who described eyewitness accounts of the sale in his research. Cornelius’s extended family was split, with his aunt Nelly and her daughters shipped to one plantation, and his uncle James and his wife and children sent to another, records show.
At the time, the Catholic Church did not view slaveholding as immoral, said the Rev. Thomas R. Murphy, a historian at Seattle University who has written a book about the Jesuits and slavery.
The Jesuits had sold off individual slaves before. As early as the 1780s, Dr. Rothman found, they openly discussed the need to cull their stock of human beings.
But the decision to sell virtually all of their enslaved African-Americans in the 1830s left some priests deeply troubled.
They worried that new owners might not allow the slaves to practice their Catholic faith. They also knew that life on plantations in the Deep South was notoriously brutal, and feared that families might end up being separated and resold.
“It would be better to suffer financial disaster than suffer the loss of our souls with the sale of the slaves,” wrote the Rev. Jan Roothaan, who headed the Jesuits’ international organization from Rome and was initially reluctant to authorize the sale.
But he was persuaded to reconsider by several prominent Jesuits, including Father Mulledy, then the influential president of Georgetown who had overseen its expansion, and Father McSherry, who was in charge of the Jesuits’ Maryland mission. (The two men would swap positions by 1838.)
Mismanaged and inefficient, the Maryland plantations no longer offered a reliable source of income for Georgetown College, which had been founded in 1789. It would not survive, Father Mulledy feared, without an influx of cash.
So in June 1838, he negotiated a deal with Henry Johnson, a member of the House of Representatives, and Jesse Batey, a landowner in Louisiana, to sell Cornelius and the others.
Father Mulledy promised his superiors that the slaves would continue to practice their religion. Families would not be separated. And the money raised by the sale would not be used to pay off debt or for operating expenses.
None of those conditions were met, university officials said.
Father Mulledy took most of the down payment he received from the sale — about $500,000 in today’s dollars — and used it to help pay off the debts that Georgetown had incurred under his leadership.
In the uproar that followed, he was called to Rome and reassigned.
The next year, Pope Gregory XVI explicitly barred Catholics from engaging in “this traffic in Blacks … no matter what pretext or excuse.”
But the pope’s order, which did not explicitly address slave ownership or private sales like the one organized by the Jesuits, offered scant comfort to Cornelius and the other slaves.
By the 1840s, word was trickling back to Washington that the slaves’ new owners had broken their promises. Some slaves suffered at the hands of a cruel overseer.
Roughly two-thirds of the Jesuits’ former slaves — including Cornelius and his family — had been shipped to two plantations so distant from churches that “they never see a Catholic priest,” the Rev. James Van de Velde, a Jesuit who visited Louisiana, wrote in a letter in 1848.
Father Van de Velde begged Jesuit leaders to send money for the construction of a church that would “provide for the salvation of those poor people, who are now utterly neglected.”
He addressed his concerns to Father Mulledy, who three years earlier had returned to his post as president of Georgetown.
There is no indication that he received any response.
A Familiar Name
African-Americans are often a fleeting presence in the documents of the 1800s. Enslaved, marginalized and forced into illiteracy by laws that prohibited them from learning to read and write, many seem like ghosts who pass through this world without leaving a trace.
After the sale, Cornelius vanishes from the public record until 1851 when his trail finally picks back up on a cotton plantation near Maringouin, La.
His owner, Mr. Batey, had died, and Cornelius appeared on the plantation’s inventory, which included 27 mules and horses, 32 hogs, two ox carts and scores of other slaves. He was valued at $900. (“Valuable Plantation and Negroes for Sale,” read one newspaper advertisement in 1852.)
The plantation would be sold again and again and again, records show, but Cornelius’s family remained intact. In 1870, he appeared in the census for the first time. He was about 48 then, a father, a husband, a farm laborer and, finally, a free man.
He might have disappeared from view again for a time, save for something few could have counted on: his deep, abiding faith. It was his Catholicism, born on the Jesuit plantations of his childhood, that would provide researchers with a road map to his descendants.
Cornelius had originally been shipped to a plantation so far from a church that he had married in a civil ceremony. But six years after he appeared in the census, and about three decades after the birth of his first child, he renewed his wedding vows with the blessing of a priest.
His children and grandchildren also embraced the Catholic church. So Judy Riffel, one of the genealogists hired by Mr. Cellini, began following a chain of weddings and births, baptisms and burials. The church records helped lead to a 69-year-old woman in Baton Rouge named Maxine Crump.
Ms. Crump, a retired television news anchor, was driving to Maringouin, her hometown, in early February when her cellphone rang. Mr. Cellini was on the line.
She listened, stunned, as he told her about her great-great-grandfather, Cornelius Hawkins, who had labored on a plantation just a few miles from where she grew up.
She found out about the Jesuits and Georgetown and the sea voyage to Louisiana. And she learned that Cornelius had worked the soil of a 2,800-acre estate that straddled the Bayou Maringouin.
All of this was new to Ms. Crump, except for the name Cornelius — or Neely, as Cornelius was known.
The name had been passed down from generation to generation in her family. Her great-uncle had the name, as did one of her cousins. Now, for the first time, Ms. Crump understood its origins.
“Oh my God,” she said. “Oh my God.”
Ms. Crump is a familiar figure in Baton Rouge. She was the city’s first black woman television anchor. She runs a nonprofit, Dialogue on Race Louisiana, that offers educational programs on institutional racism and ways to combat it.
She prides herself on being unflappable. But the revelations about her lineage — and the church she grew up in — have unleashed a swirl of emotions.
She is outraged that the church’s leaders sanctioned the buying and selling of slaves, and that Georgetown profited from the sale of her ancestors. She feels great sadness as she envisions Cornelius as a young boy, torn from everything he knew.
‘Now They Are Real to Me’
Mr. Cellini, whose genealogists have already traced more than 200 of the slaves from Maryland to Louisiana, believes there may be thousands of living descendants. He has contacted a few, including Patricia Bayonne-Johnson, president of the Eastern Washington Genealogical Society in Spokane, who is helping to track the Jesuit slaves with her group. (Ms. Bayonne-Johnson discovered her connection through an earlier effort by the university to publish records online about the Jesuit plantations.)
Meanwhile, Georgetown’s working group has been weighing whether the university should apologize for profiting from slave labor, create a memorial to those enslaved and provide scholarships for their descendants, among other possibilities, said Dr. Rothman, the historian.
“It’s hard to know what could possibly reconcile a history like this,” he said. “What can you do to make amends?”
Ms. Crump, 69, has been asking herself that question, too. She does not put much stock in what she describes as “casual institutional apologies.” But she would like to see a scholarship program that would bring the slaves’ descendants to Georgetown as students.
And she would like to see Cornelius’s name, and those of his parents and children, inscribed on a memorial on campus.
Her ancestors, once amorphous and invisible, are finally taking shape in her mind. There is joy in that, she said, exhilaration even.
“Now they are real to me,” she said, “more real every day.”
She still wants to know more about Cornelius’s beginnings, and about his life as a free man. But when Ms. Riffel, the genealogist, told her where she thought he was buried, Ms. Crump knew exactly where to go.
The two women drove on the narrow roads that line the green, rippling sugar cane fields in Iberville Parish. There was no need for a map. They were heading to the only Catholic cemetery in Maringouin.
They found the last physical marker of Cornelius’s journey at the Immaculate Heart of Mary cemetery, where Ms. Crump’s father, grandmother and great-grandfather are also buried.
The worn gravestone had toppled, but the wording was plain: “Neely Hawkins Died April 16, 1902.”
Some historians argue that if churches had used their power, the Atlantic slave trade might have never occurred. By the same logic, others argue that the Catholic church and Catholic missionaries could have also helped to prevent the colonization and brutality of colonialism in Africa. However, history shows that the Catholic church did not oppose the institution of slavery until the practice had already become infamous in most parts of the world. In most cases, the churches and church leaders did not condemn slavery until the 17th century. The five major countries that dominated slavery and the slave trade in the New World were either Catholic, or still retained strong Catholic influences including: Spain, Portugal, France, and England, and the Netherlands.
Slavery itself, considered as such in its essential nature, is not at all contrary to the natural and divine law, and there can be several just titles of slavery, and these are referred to by approved theologians and commentators of the sacred canons … It is not contrary to the natural and divine law for a slave to be sold, bought, exchanged or given”.- Pope Pius IX
The actions of the Catholic church towards slavery proved to be insincere. History shows that the first extensive shipment of black Africans that would later become known as the Transatlantic slave trade, was initiated at the request of Bishop Las Casas and authorized by Charles V in 1517. Ironically, Catholic missionaries such as the Jesuits, who also owned slaves, worked to alleviate the suffering of Native American slaves in the New World. While showing mercy to Native Americans, the church placed some books critical of slavery on the Index of Forbidden Books by the Holy Office between 1573-1826. Capuchin missionaries were excommunicated for calling for the emancipation of black slaves in the Americas .
At various points the Catholic church would appease its followers and their conscience by trying to find a middle ground. Because Catholics considered baptized slaves in full communion with the Church, as opposed to some non-Catholic colonies, masters could not kill a slave without facing murder charges. If able, slaves had a right to purchase their freedom, referred to as an act of manumission. Slaves could not be worked on Sundays or on the thirty Catholic feast days, guaranteeing some days of leisure. Slaves could also join lay Catholic fraternal organizations alongside free blacks. All of these protections, perhaps, provided slaves in Catholic territories with a degree of protection from the harshness of the dehumanizing experience of slavery. Amazingly, Catholic Bishops would publicly condemn slavery but privately allowed it to continue in colonies that economically enriched the church.
Finally, in 1965 the Second Vatican Council declared that forced slavery was an infamy that dishonored the Creator and was a poison in society.
CATHOLIC CHURCH TIMELINE OF CRITICAL POINTS IN HISTORY
|362 AD||The local Council at Gangra in Asia Minor excommunicates anyone encouraging a slave to despise his master or withdraw from his service. (Became part of Church Law from the 13th to 20th centuries).
|354- 430 AD||St. Augustine teaches that the institution of slavery derives from God and is beneficial to slaves and masters.
|650 AD||Pope Martin I condemns people who teach slaves about freedom or who encourage them to escape.
|1179 AD||The Third Lateran Council imposes slavery on those helping the Saracens.
|1226 AD||The legitimacy of slavery is incorporated in the Corpus Iuris Canonici, promulgated by Pope Gregory IX which remained official law of the Church until 1913. Canon lawyers worked out four “just titles” for holding slaves: slaves captured in war, persons condemned to slavery for a crime; persons selling themselves into slavery, including a father selling his child; children of a mother who is a slave.
|1224- 1274 AD||St.Thomas Aquinas defends slavery as instituted by God in punishment for sin, and justified as being part of the ‘right of nations’ and natural law. Children of a slave mother are rightly slaves even though they have not committed personal sin!
|1452 AD||Pope Nicholas V issued the papal bull Dum Diversas on 18 June, 1452. It authorizes (King) Alfonso V of Portugal to reduce any “Saracens (Muslims) and pagans and any other unbelievers to perpetual slavery.The same pope wrote the bull Romanus Pontifex on January 5, 1455 to the same Alfonso. As a follow-up to the Dum diversas, it extended to the Catholic nations of Europe dominion over discovered lands during the Age of Discovery. Along with sanctifying the seizure of non-Christian lands, it encouraged the enslavement of native, non-Christian peoples in Africa and the New World.
|1493 AD||Pope Alexander VI authorizes the King of Spain to enslave non-Christians of the Americas who are at war with Christian powers.
|1494 AD||Pope Alexander VI, in the 1494 Treaty of Tordesillas, divides the known New World between the two countries. As there was a need to locate a group to work in areas where the supply of indigenous labor was insufficient, to sustain their colonies, Spain and Portugal imported Africans.
|1500- 1850 AD||Twelve million Africans arrived in the Americas to toil as slaves. The vast majority of these slaves worked in the Catholic colonies of Spain and Portugal
|1548 AD||Pope Paul III confirms the right of clergy and laity to own slaves
|1866 AD||Pope Pius IX declares:
Slavery itself, considered as such in its essential nature, is not at all contrary to the natural and divine law, and there can be several just titles of slavery, and these are referred to by approved theologians and commentators of the sacred canons … It is not contrary to the natural and divine law for a slave to be sold, bought, exchanged or given”.
From the book: “The Secret History of the Jesuits” by Edmond Paris; translated from the French, 1975:
About the author “Edmond Paris”:
“In exposing such a conspiracy, he put his life at stake.” “Edmond Paris never knew me, but I knew him without meeting him personally when I, with other Jesuits under the extreme oath and induction, was being briefed on the names of institutions and individuals in Europe who were dangerous to the goals of the Roman Catholic Institution. His name was given to us.” “The Edmond Paris works on Roman Catholicism brought about the pledge on the part of the Jesuits to: 1] destroy him, 2] destroy his reputation, including his family and, 3] destroy his work.”
-Dr. Alberto Rivera
The names and the faces change, but this is still the same program as Jewish communism. Christianity is a preparation for communism. When either one fails, the other is ready to take control of a region or country. Just as the former USSR fell in 1991, along with the other countries of the “Iron Curtin,” Christians moved right back in like fleas on a dog, endlessly and forcefully proselytizing and working to convert the populace. This is a vicious cycle.
“The Jesuits secretly and relentlessly work toward two major goals for the Roman Catholic Institution: 1. “Universal political power” and 2. “A universal church in fulfillment of the prophesies of Revelation 6, 13, 17 and 18.” ¹
The Jesuits [Society of Jesus] are the spies and the assassination squad of the Catholic Church. People who believe this institution to be “religious” or “spiritual” are sadly deluded. It is and always has been political in every respect. It is a political front that operates to control people using many fictitious religious characters and ceremonies stolen from religions predating it from around the world. The separation of church and state mean nothing to the Catholic Church, which works relentlessly and ruthlessly for world domination by any means possible. This institution has been built on mass murder, torture, extortion, organized crime, lies and depriving humanity of true spirituality. It has controlled kings, queens, nobility, presidents, governments, and nearly anyone in power.
There are claims of a “Black Pope.” This is only a myth; a myth to divert the responsibility from the Catholic Pope and his organization of criminals. In truth, they employ the concept of Hegelianism by playing both sides against the middle to gain control. This is analogous to someone who openly preaches against illicit drug use, openly works for the DEA pretending to fight illicit drug use, and in secret, operates a drug smuggling and distribution ring right out of the DEA; or a crooked cop. While the Catholic Church openly claims to be a religious and charitable institution, it secretly runs and controls organized criminal activities, working hand in hand with Jewish communism.
The Protestants are all too happy to condemn the Catholics and dig up dirt on them as blame shifting takes away the need to explain how such degeneracy and odious actions could repeatedly occur within the Christian Churches. Of course, we all know Satan has been a scapegoat for these criminals all along, as they are too deluded and indoctrinated to see it has been their own “god” who has always been deceiving them.
Ignatius de Loyola was the founder of the Jesuits. The Protestant reformation had done serious damage to the uncontested control of the Catholic Church by the time he arrived on the scene. He came to the conclusion the only way the Catholic Church could regain the power it lost was to enforce the canons and doctrines on the temporal power of the pope and not just destroy lives through the Inquisition, as the Dominican priests and nuns were doing, but to secretly infiltrate every area of life.
“The constitution of the Company of Jesus was at last drafted and approved in Rome by Paul III, in 1540, and the Jesuits put themselves at the disposition of the pope, promising him unconditional obedience.” ²
Ignatius was more aware than any other Catholic leader who preceded him that the best way to control a man was to become master of his mind. “We imbue him to spiritual forces which he would find very difficult to eliminate later.” “…forces more lasting than all the best principles and doctrines; these forces can come up again to the surface sometimes after years of not even mentioning them, and become so imperative that the will finds itself unable to oppose any obstacle, and has to follow their irresistible impulse.” ³
One must always remember how the Catholic Church has much esoteric knowledge at its disposal from centuries of confiscating, looting, and systematic removal of these materials from the populace. The Jesuits have used this knowledge to the detriment of humanity. Unbeknownst to most, the Jesuits have infiltrated every country on the face of the earth and have been expelled by many. Through the Catholic sacrament of confession, the Jesuits gained control of Kings and Queens, rulers and nobility. They were even offered important political posts openly. It wouldn’t be at all surprising that blackmail was frequently used.
“Whenever a country was infested with Jesuits, they managed to take control. This was done through infiltration. Soon after, the authorities began consulting them with important issues, large donations would start flowing in and before long, “they occupied all of the schools, the pulpits of most churches and the confessionals of all high ranking people.” 4
“The public is practically unaware of the overwhelming responsibility carried by the Vatican and its Jesuits in the start of the two world wars- a situation which may be explained in part by the gigantic finances at the disposition of the Vatican and its Jesuits, giving them power in so many spheres, especially since the last conflict.” 5
“No state suffered as much as Poland did under the Jesuits’ domination.” “And in no other country apart from Portugal, was the society so powerful.” “While Poland was heading fast towards ruin, the number of Jesuit establishments and schools was growing so fast that the General made Poland into a special congregation in 1751.” 6
Teachings of the Far East were corrupted with the arrival and infestation of the Jesuits. Jesuit Robert de Nobile settled in India to convert the masses to Catholicism there. True to the nature of a Jesuit, he infiltrated the Brahmin priestly caste [always appealing to the ruling classes]. “He developed the clothes, habits, and way of living of the Brahmins, mixed their rites with Christian ones, all with the approval of Pope Gregory XV.” He converted over 250,000 Hindus. 7
This, more than likely is where a lot of the ludicrous new age teachings with their promotion of the nazarene, the teachings of “karma” and angels comes from- Christian infiltration.
“In South America, they conquered the natives who were subsequently forced to live under strict Catholicism. “The Jesuits watch over them…” “…they punish the smallest mistakes…The whip, fasting, prison, pillory on the public square, public penance in the church, these are the chastisements they use.”
“The culprit dressed in the clothes of a penitent, was escorted to church where he confessed his fault. Then he was whipped on the public square according to the penal code… The culprits always received this chastisement, not only without murmurs, but also with thanksgivings…The guilty one, having been punished and reconciled, kissed the hand of the one who struck him, saying ‘May God reward you for freeing me, by this light punishment, from the eternal sorrows which threatened me.” 8
“We will compose poems; but may our poets be Christians and not followers of Pagans who invoke Muses, Mountain Nymphs, Sea Nymphs, Calliope, Apollo, etc…or other Gods and Goddesses. What’s more, if these are to be mentioned, may it be with the view to caricature them, as they are only demons.” 9
“The Roman Catholic Church was among the richest landowners in North Africa. In Mexico, they had silver mines and sugar refineries, in Paraguay, tea and cacao plantations, carpet factories and also control over the food supply as they owned the cattle and “exported 80,000 mules per year.” “And to make an even bigger profit, the fathers did not hesitate to defraud the state treasury, as seen in the well known story of the so-called boxes of chocolate unloaded at Cadix which were full of gold powder.” 10
January 7th, 1960, in Rome, there was a summit conference that took place that was intended to bring a peaceful co-existence between the soviets and the eastern bloc and the west. In the USA, Cardinal Spellman [who has numerous photos in magazines and newspapers standing beside important world leaders] urged Catholics to show open hostility to Mr. Khrushchev, when he visited the United States and was a guest here. Cardinal Ottaviani, Secretary of the Holy Office, delivered a most vehement speech at the basilica of “Saint Marie-Majeure” against the Soviets and the Western Powers who were involved in the peace project. 11
One might ask what purpose war serves when an institution such as the Catholic Church is striving for world rule. Nothing known to humanity changes lives, creates devastation and opens people up for domination more than war. Both sides of the conflict are aided and funded by those intent on establishing world domination and the creation of a slave state. At the end of the war, all countries concerned are at the debt of the international bankers, much of these owned, and operated by the Vatican. This is not to disregard others who are working for the same objectives. All parties involved use each other to achieve these ends, along the way, both despise each other out of greed and seek each other’s destruction so if the goal is achieved, the winner takes all. What they all have in common is the worship of the same “God.”