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Slavery and Jesuit Universities in America
C. Walker Gollar
A vivid and disquieting narrative of Jesuit slaveholding and its historical relationship with Jesuit universities in the United States
The Society of Jesus, commonly known as the Jesuits, is renowned for the quality of the order’s impact on higher education. Less well known, however, is the relationship between Jesuit higher education and slavery. For more than two hundred years, Jesuit colleges and seminaries in the United States supported themselves on the labor of the enslaved.
“Let Us Go Free” tells the complex stories of the free and enslaved people associated with these Catholic institutions. Walker Gollar shows that, in spite of their Catholic faith, Jesuits were in most respects very typical slaveholders. At times, they may have been concerned with the spiritual and physical well-being of the enslaved, but mostly they were concerned with the finances of their plantations and farms. Gollar traces the legacies of the Jesuits’ participation in the slaveholding economy, portrays the experiences of those enslaved by the Jesuits, and shares the Jesuits’ attempts to come to terms with their history.
Deeply based on original research in Jesuit archives, “Let Us Go Free” provides a vivid and disquieting narrative of Jesuit slaveholding for the general reader interested in the historical relationship between slavery and universities in the United States.
"‘Let Us Go Free’ does an excellent job putting slavery at Georgetown University into its larger context. Gollar’s book is an important reminder that the connections between Catholic universities and slavery extended far beyond Maryland. ‘Let Us Go Free’ is necessary reading for all who wish to better understand the tangled alliance of religion, education, and slavery in early America."—Jennifer Oast, professor of history, Bloomsburg University, author of Institutional Slavery: Slaveholding Churches, Schools, Colleges, and Businesses in Virginia, 1680–1860,
"C. Walker Gollar’s skill and care as a historian is evident on every page of 'Let Us Go Free': Slavery and Jesuit Universities in America. He documents the lives of those whose labor made possible the American Jesuit educational system that serves so many today. The work is a ticket to the past for those who are ready to begin a sober journey of understanding that past and its legacy."—Cecilia A. Moore, associate professor, Department of Religious Studies, University of Dayton
C. Walker Gollar is professor of church history in the Department of Theology at Xavier University in Cincinnati. He specializes in the history of American Catholicism. He is the author of American and Catholic: Stories of the People who Built the Church (2015).
272 pp., 6 x 9
272 pp., 6 x 9