Loyola University Chicago

Department of History


Dr. Thomas Murphy Lecture and Luncheon Event: Jesuit Slaveholding In Maryland

Dr. Thomas Murphy Lecture and Luncheon Event: Jesuit Slaveholding In Maryland

On Thursday, February 9, The Joan and Bill Hank Center for Catholic Intellectual Heritage presents a lecture by Dr. Thomas Murphy, entitled "The Jesuit Choice: Religious Freedom Before Ecumenism and Slave Emancipation" at 4 pm in McCormick Lounge in Coffey Hall. 

Beginning in colonial times, the Jesuits in Maryland owned slaves as part of their belief that their Roman Catholic faith did not exclude them from an English subject's right to possess all forms of legal property. Despite the passage of the Bill of Rights by the recently independent United States in 1791, Jesuits remained insecure about the recognition of their American citizenship. They feared that advocating the removal of the protection of slavery from the Constitution would lead to their freedom of worship being removed from it too. They also began to see abolitionism as a Protestant heresy that they must reject. The result of these forces was that in 1838 they sold their slaves rather than set them free. This lecture will examine the legacy of these events for Jesuit ministries today.

The same day, the Hank Center is organizing a luncheon seminar with faculty and graduate students with Dr. Murphy. The seminar is an opportunity to discuss the legacies of Jesuit slaveholding, made particularly topical by Georgetown University's recent efforts to address its history of owning and selling enslaved people. If interested, please RSVP to Kelly Schmidt by February 1, including any dietary restrictions.