Harvard links to slavery exposed

Harvard University recently released a 130-page report that sheds light on its past, especially when America was bringing in slaves from Africa. This investigation highlights a surprising fact: the staff of the most prestigious American university employed more than sixty slaves in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Harvard employees, including its president, allegedly employed 70 slaves between 1683 and a Massachusetts Supreme Court ruling 150 years later that made the practice illegal. Some of them even worked on campus.

Slavery in New England

The history of Harvard University is intrinsically linked to the history of New England and Massachusetts, the state in which we find the famous institution. In the 17th century, this American region brought many inhabitants from African countries to enslave them. By the early 1700s, nearly twenty flights had been made.

In 1638, two years after the founding of Harvard, a ship named . appeared yearns forShe returns from her trip to Africa and the swamps of Boston Harbor. Some believed that the first slave who belonged to a member of the prestigious university, the dean of that time in this case, would have come on this boat.

In Massachusetts, there was a community of 33,000 residents in the late 17th century. Various reports indicate that the number of slaves was “relatively low”. There were about 200 people, mostly from Madagascar and Guinea. It should be noted, however, that if the inhabitants of this state used few slaves, it was not out of personal conviction, but out of fear of an increase in the foreign population.

However, in the 1700s, the number of slaves in Massachusetts rose dramatically. It increased from 200 in 1675 to 550 in 1708, and then about 2000 in 1720. It must be said that the number of settlers also increased, bringing the total population of this state to 94,000. Thus, it is quite natural that the prominent, wealthier members of Harvard would begin to buy slaves.

Read also: University of Strasbourg: Exposing its past under Nazi Germany

Checking for slaves on the Harvard campus

Harvard University has had a close relationship with slavery since its early days. Indeed, since 1640 the American University has welcomed the sons of wealthy sugarcane owners who themselves exploited slaves from countries in Africa or India. A report published by Harvard University indicates that in total, approximately 70 slaves were purchased by the institution’s professors or deans. Some of them even worked on campus, obviously without pay.

The person with the most slaves is undoubtedly the one Harvard flight attendants [ceux qui s’occupaient des achats de matériel et de nourriture de l’université, NDLR]And Andrew Boardman. I have bought eight. The future president of Harvard University, Benjamin Wadsworth, even witnessed the purchase of one of them for $40, or about $2,800 today. Jane, one of his slaves, who died at the age of 22, still keeps her grave at Harvard Cemetery. his tomb says: Jane, a Negro Maid by Andrew Boardman ’. Even some Harvard professors have even acquired underage slaves.

With Harvard being a place of education and openness to the world, slavery quickly raised many questions. A discussion took place even in the late 1770s, shortly before the Massachusetts Supreme Court of Justice issued its ruling on the illegality of slavery. Two students interested in earning a bachelor’s degree at Harvard University spoke about this topic. Defending a pro-slavery position, Elivalet Pearson noted that the practice was a “service” by Americans to Africans, explaining that the colonists had withdrawn from a country they knew only ” tyranny ” And ” misery “.

Read also: Professor donates two million to his university

The financial benefits derived from Harvard from slavery

As the report published in April notes, Harvard University has long benefited, financially, from slavery and from the market created around it. The university has already received a large number of monetary donations from wealthy sugar and cotton plantations. But the report published by the foundation did not specify the amount of the sums. However, it highlights a few philanthropists whose fortunes were made mostly through slavery, including Samuel Winthrop and Isaac Royall Jr.

In the nineteenth century, despite the ban on the existence of slaves, Harvard University was still profiting from the slave trade. The report, published last month, states that during the first half of this century, a third of the donations or pledges came from five people who made their fortunes by trading or selling slaves. James Perkins donated $20,000 (about $450,000). His money comes mostly from reselling Caribbean slaves.

At the center of the disputes surrounding the abolition of slavery, Harvard was a reflection of American society. Southerners defended their pro-slavery stance. However, many groups have been formed, such as the Cambridge Anti-Slavery Society, established by students and professors from Cambridge and Harvard.

After publishing the report, Harvard pledges

Upon the publication of this report, Harvard University took several steps, starting with the creation of a $100 million fund Slavery Legacy Fund. It will first be used to create courses to enable future generations to realize the links between Harvard and slavery. As reported by the New York Times, such an amount is very rare in American higher education.

In addition, Harvard University pledges to create memorials and promote exchanges between professors, students, and universities not related to slavery or located in the countries of origin of slaves. Finally, the institution also wants to address disparities in access to higher education.

Read also: The SAT exam is changing, after it was rejected by American universities

Leave a Comment