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Between andBlack residents in Baltimore and Maryland saw both new opportunities and difficult reversals. After the Civil War, three Constitutional Amendments laid out a promise of freedom, equal protection, and political power. In the years that followed, local, state, and federal elected officials often failed to protect the rights of Black Baltimoreans or actively worked against their interests.
White artisans excluded free Black workers from craft apprenticeships and employers relegated Black workers to the most difficult, dangerous, and lowest-paying jobs in the city.
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Inthere were only Black property owners in the city. They pushed back against the publicly funded Maryland Colonization Society, a group that sought to transport free Black Marylanders to west Africa; petitioned Baltimore City to establish public schools for Black students; and protested the exclusion and discrimination experienced by Black workers.
Church Sunday schools had nearly 3, people in regular attendance. Ina group of Black Methodists supported by the Maryland Society for the Abolition of Slavery, a Quaker abolitionist group, opened a school and meetinghouse on Fish Street now Saratoga Street but lack of funds forced the group to leave the building within just a few months. A city slave is almost a freeman, compared with a slave on the plantation. They are left entirely to themselves for any education they may obtain. William S. Inthe Maryland General Assembly authorized the creation of the Baltimore city school system for white children under the age of 10 and the first school, known as Public School No.
Public Schools No. Black families recognized the injustice of being forced to pay school taxes that supported white-only schools, and Black leaders in Baltimore petitioned the city government to provide either tax relief or schools for Black children. The growing population of free people of color in Baltimore followed the broader growth in the free Black population in Maryland. Varied social movements sought to secure freedom, provide mutual support, and encourage self-determination for Black Baltimoreans.
The large colored population of Baltimore, now from thirty to forty thousand souls, have no sort of Public School provision made for them, by the city or state governments.
The great migration
In resistance to the severe restrictions on Black life in Baltimore and Maryland, local Black abolitionists, church leaders, and activists led efforts to oppose colonization and protect the rights of free Black Baltimoreans. When Black Republican party activists sought to influence the selection of candidates within their own party, white Republicans pushed back by manipulating primary elections. However, any privileges enjoyed by free and enslaved Black Baltimoreans over Black men and women living in other areas of the state remained severely limited.
ByBlack property owners made up just 0. These new legal and political rights empowered an emerging community of Black activists—a group that included religious leaders, labor organizers, and many Union army veterans who settled in Baltimore after the end of the war. The new law prohibited free Black Marylanders from owning firearms without a certificate from county officials or buying alcohol, powder, or shot. The order was established in by Mother Mary Lange and Marie Magdaleine Balas—two French-speaking Black women who came to Baltimore along with many other Black and white migrants from the Caribbean following the end of the Haitian Revolution in The Oblate Sisters formed on June 13,and opened a School for Colored Girls with 11 boarding students and five day students gathering in a rented residence at 5 St.
The building also served as the convent for the sisters as they made the education of children of color their own defining mission. When the group sent only 12 emigrants to Liberia inthe state terminated its appropriation the following year. During the rebellion, Nat Turner traveled through the area encouraging enslaved people to him and killing white slaveholders and their families before the rebellion was suppressed by a local militia.
At the same time, however, the large population of free people of color in Baltimore and the varied opportunities for Black workers gave many enslaved people a chance to make a better life. As this pattern of oppression continued into the s and s, many Black Baltimoreans left Maryland for free northern states, like Pennsylvania, Ohio, or New York, or for Black communities in Canada.
Segregation and the fourteenth amendment
Not all Black religious groups could afford the risk of a direct challenge to established white religious authorities. Black residents in Baltimore resisted.
In response, the Maryland state legislature established a committee led by Henry Brawner, a slaveholder from Charles County in Southern Maryland. Church and, inbought a building on Saratoga Street near Gay Street from a white abolitionist named John Carman. Byonly eight had acquired real estate making up just 3. Former Marylander Frederick Douglass ed thousands of other Americans, including Black Baltimoreans known and unknown, in protesting the decision by risking their own lives and freedom to help enslaved people escape the South and, afterthe United States along the Underground Railroad.
While many Black leaders advocated for greater freedoms through newly formed organizations, many others were forced to work within an oppressive system to seek incremental reforms. Civil War, individual activists organized to promote the abolition of people held in slavery, protect the limited rights of free Black people and establish schools for Black people in Baltimore.
Enslaved people in Baltimore faced the same threats of brutal violence and family separation experienced by other enslaved Marylanders.
Through speeches and publications, they presented nascent civil rights activism in Baltimore as impossible and dangerous due to their belief in the inherent inferiority and criminality of Black Marylanders. He is much better fed and clothed, and enjoys privileges altogether unknown to the slave on the plantation. The onset of the Civil War in marked a new beginning for Black Baltimoreans seeking greater freedom for themselves and their neighbors.
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After the Civil War, white political leaders across the state, including many who had supported or fought for the Confederacy, stoked racist fears and anxieties to undermine the rising political power of their Black neighbors. The church operated a school and served as a meeting location for various advocacy groups. Since the late eighteenth century, changing agricultural practices around the state and declining profits for tobacco farms led to an increasing use of manumission to free thousands of enslaved people.
In retribution, white slaveholders killed approximately three dozen Black individuals without a trial, until the local militia stepped in to make mass arrests. Very few free Black households had the wealth or opportunity to acquire property.
Abolition and emancipation
In the early s, free Black people outed enslaved people, making Baltimore the only place in the state where most Black people were free. The second quarter of the nineteenth century was a time of great religious fervor and social change. Black parishioners also struggled against repressive white religious institutions from the inside.
Just three years after the abolition of slavery, a new state constitution in changed the rules for legislative representation to allow white legislators associated with the openly white-supremacist Democratic Party to dominate the Maryland General Assembly. One of the earliest Black congregations in the city was Sharp Street Church, which was established in and initially worshipped in the gallery of the Old Lovely Lane Chapel on German Street.
In the city, these men and women organized to build independent Black churches, such as Sharp Street and Bethel A. E Churches, and to open schools for Black children who were excluded from the segregated public schools the city opened in Byover 10, enslaved people and over 17, free people of color lived in Baltimore. African Americans could no longer hold religious meetings unless a white minister was present, with the exception of Black congregations in Baltimore City.
Over 8, enslaved Marylanders enlisted in the US Colored Troops between the spring of and the end of the war two years later. These petitions were presented in, and which included atures from 90 Black and white Baltimore residents.
Race, race-based discrimination, and health outcomes among african americans
Frustrated by this, the Sharp Street congregation annually petitioned the Baltimore conference to as a Black preacher to lead the congregation, but the petition was consistently ignored. Baltimore grew quickly in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Despite the interracial support, the mayor and City Council rejected every one of these petitions. These gatherings were critical to the development of Black politics before and after the Civil War. Through the research and documentation created by Colored Conventions ProjectDr.
Supporters of the American Colonization Society in Maryland first established a statewide organization in when a group of loosely organized regional and county societies united. Hundreds of free Black people in Baltimore supported the Union army by working on fortifications and hospitals around the edges of the city.
Historian Christopher Phillips recounts Black resistance to the efforts by the Maryland Colonization Society, noting:. White leaders used racist ideas to justify police violence and inequality in criminal justice—topics that emerged as major concerns for Black Baltimoreans in the s and s.
The strong local opposition to colonization came, in part, thanks to the way that free and enslaved Black Baltimoreans could build communities in ways they could not in many other Southern towns and cities. The relationship of Black Baltimoreans to this movement was complicated.
Health disparities—the black/white divide
As noted by historian J. Gordon Melton, through the s, Sharp Street, along with Asbury, was considered an African church attached to the Baltimore charge. Church on the first Sunday of every month, highlighting the important link between religious and social institutions. New arrivals from the Eastern Shore and Southern Maryland ed the existing community of Black churches and social groups and helped them grow in both size and influence.
In the city, they could find work and educational opportunities largely unavailable elsewhere in Maryland. In the politically turbulent period after the end of the Civil War, the nation adopted the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution in giving all Black Marylanders the right to equal protection under the law, and the Fifteenth Amendment ingiving Black men the right to vote.
Even as they worked to educate Black children, the Sisters accepted discriminatory policies imposed by white Catholic Church leadership, although not without frustration. The distribution of Black residents changed as the city center saw the development of more rowhouses for affluent white residents. In Virginia, for example, an law required newly freed African Americans to leave the state after manumission. Between andthe city nearly doubled in population and then doubled again by Enslaved and free Black workers were key to this early growth.
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Free Black activists in the period included George Alexander Hackett who was born free inand, as a life-long member of Bethel A. Church, became a prominent activist in the s and s. The city was a place where Black people organized and worked to seek freedom from slavery and self-determination. The early s marked a critical turning point in the earliest history of the civil rights movement in Baltimore.
Outside of Baltimore, Democrats excluded Black voters from the polls and redrew local districts to diminish Black voter influence on elections. By the early nineteenth century, free and enslaved Black people turned the city into a precious refuge in a Chesapeake region dominated by oppressive white supremacy.
At the same time, the development and spread of racist ideas before and after the Civil War laid the cultural and political foundation for segregation and disenfranchisement in the late nineteenth century. The Second Great Awakening was a Protestant religious revival that led many congregations to evangelize and recruit free and enslaved Black members.
Only a few directly confronted the role of white supremacy and racial discrimination in dividing working people and undermining their ability to challenge the political and economic interests of large property owners and established white political authorities in the decades before and after the Civil War. Baltimore City incorporated between anduniting these three settlements. Evidently, even this small group must have been seen by some white Marylanders as a threat—given the failed attempt in the state legislature to pass a law prohibiting free Black residents from buying real estate or leasing a property for more than a year.
The state legislature swiftly enacted repressive laws placing new strict limits on the rights of both free and enslaved Black Marylanders. Inthe congregation built their own church between Lombard and Pratt Street where the Baltimore Convention Center is located todayserving both free and enslaved Black residents. As with the example of the Oblate Sisters, operating schools for Black students was a major area of focus for Black religious communities and, in some cases, sympathetic white allies.