When the American republic was only a couple decades old, and more people were held enslaved in Maryland than all but two other states, enslaved people could petition the courts for freedom--if they could show they were descended from a woman who had been free. Before slaveholders got the laws changed, hundreds of enslaved people in Prince George’s County won their independence. Researching this history for his book A Question of Freedom, The Families Who Challenged Slavery From the Nation's Founding to the Civil War, William G. Thomas III talked to descendants of people enslaved by Jesuit priests in Prince George’s … and learned that his white forebears helped the Jesuits. This country needs a reckoning of slavery’s impact, Thomas says.
Thomas will speak about A Question of Freedom next month, on Feb. 15, at 6:30 p.m.-- at an event organized by the Prince George’s County Historical Society and the Marietta House Museum - visit this link for more information.