The Enslavers

Once it became clear that slavery was definitively going to be abolished in all of the United States, the Maryland General Assembly took some action on behalf of Maryland enslavers who would be impacted. The 1864 Maryland Constitution officially abolished slavery in Maryland, since Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation did not apply to Maryland.

“In the hope that the federal government would compensate former slaveholders, the General Assembly in 1867 authorized the compilation of records to establish slave ownership and the value of slave property. The governor appointed a commissioner of slave statistics for each county with a term in office of two years. Former slave owners furnished the commissioner with descriptive information on each slave for whom they claimed ownership. The commissioner then recorded the lists and filed the records with the clerk of the circuit court of his county. (Ch. 189, Acts of 1867; Ch. 385, Acts of 1868).” (Courtesy, Maryland State Archives website)

The Commissioner of Slave Statistics for Howard County was a man named Claudius Stewart. Claudius was Howard County’s Representative in the House from 1865-66, and became its Sheriff from 1869-71. He reported to have been enslaving 18 souls ranging in age from 52 to 1 on the day he was divested of them. He was the son of Charles Stewart, the County Surveyor.–852.pdf


Here is the list of enslavers. The list was created in 1867, but it was a list that represented information as of November 1, 1864 (the day slavery was abolished in Maryland). It’s important to remember that these weren’t the only enslavers in the county, but were those expressing their desire in 1867 to be financially compensated for their perceived financial losses.


(click on the image below, and it will open for you)

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Here is a link to the list maintained by the Maryland State Archives:

To the state archives scan

Extracted from the list, are the following names of those enslavers who declared to have had the largest numbers. This represents the top 24. (An interesting story in an 1869 newspaper is below regarding the Dorseys)

Additional Sources: