Family Stories · Family Quakers, the First to Initiate Manumission
Family Quakers, the First to Initiate Manumission

The Snowden, Thomas, and Hopkins families were Quakers and the Quaker religion developed strong religious convictions against the holding of slaves. The Quakers of Maryland were the first to initiate the manumission movement to free black slaves in this country. Listed below are the names of early family members who initiated manumission:

  • Samuel Snowden, son of Richard 'youngest' was the first of the Snowdens to release slaves in 1785 (72 slaves)
  • Major Thomas Snowden of Montpelier freed 100 slaves
  • John Chew Thomas freed slaves in1810
  • Philip Evan Thomas, the first President of the B&O Railroad, freed over 200 slaves
  • Samuel Hopkins, father of Johns Hopkins, freed slaves

However, in many cases the freeing of slaves became and economic burden as land owners could no longer operate their plantations to good advantage. For some, their agrarian interests lanquished. For many others it became an economic necessity to move to a large city, the closest being Baltimore, and start again in the urban market. In one case, after her family's slaves were freed, Hannah Janney Hopkins sent her son, Johns Hopkins, into Baltimore at the age of 15. Together with economic realities, she sensed that young Johns had a good head with commercial potential. Her "sense" proved to be correct as Johns built a series of commercial partnerships that led, over time, to his becoming the largest owner of stock in the B&O railroad.

There are several well known Quaker meeting houses in the Snowden territory in Maryland (see "Maps of Family Country"):

  • Indian Springs Meeting House
  • Sandy Springs Meeting House
  • Quaker Meeting House
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©2005 George A. Scheele MD