On March 15, the BHHC had the pleasure of hosting Maya Davis for a rescheduled presentation on Slavery during the War of 1812.
Ms. Davis is a Research Archivist in the Legacy of Slavery at the Maryland State Archives. She also serves on an exhibition team for the soon to open Harriet Tubman State Park Visitor Center near Cambridge, MD. The visitor center will commemorate Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad helping fugitive slaves escape to freedom before emancipation.
Maya Davis said that her research into the War of 1812 yielded an unexpected wealth of information on the state of slavery in ante-bellum Maryland. A “Definitive List of Slaves and Property,” proved especially useful. It compiled claims of indemnity submitted by slave owners to the Department of State for the loss of slaves to the British. No less than 700 Maryland slaves, including women and children, escaped during the war, or were taken aboard British ships that had sailed into the Chesapeake Bay and the Potomac River for a blockade of Baltimore and the Capital City. Once freed, they became British soldiers, worked on the ships, or resettled in British colonies in Canada and the Caribbean.
Thanks to the work of Ms. Davis and her colleagues, the fate of many runaway slaves can now be traced in over 250 case studies posted at the Maryland State Archives website. The War of 1812 is but one aspect of a broader investigation into the history and legacy of slavery in Maryland. A group of scholars, archivists and volunteers has been engaged in an organized study of census and court records, laws, newspapers, and maps since 2001, and collected a body of information on slaves and the flight to freedom that can now be accessed at their website. A updated guide to Researching African American Families was published in 2018.