“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Oxon Hill in Prince George's County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)

Slavery in the Potomac Valley


Slavery in the Potomac Valley Marker image. Click for full size.
By Richard E. Miller, June 24, 2014
1. Slavery in the Potomac Valley Marker
Inscription. Only Black Slavery Was Legal in Maryland
Maryland institutionalized the enslavement of Africans at the same time they were being shipped to this section of the Potomac Valley from St. Maryís City, Port Tobacco, and Virginia. Indians and Whites had been held in servitude since 1531, but only Black people were presumed to be slaves. The 1666 law stated: “All Negroes Ö already within the Province shall serve as Durnate Vita [sic]. And all children born of any Negro Ö shall be slaves as their fathers were for the terme of their lives.” It legalized slavery for life based upon skin color.

Fear of Tumultuous Meetings of Negroes
Tobacco growing fueled Prince Georgeís economy, and
slaveholders believed chattelizing humans to supply free labor was essential to the ownerís prosperity. Enslaved children may have been the systemís most affected victims. Enslaved people fought against their status and sought freedom at every opportunity. So frightening was this prospect for slaveholders that in 1723 the Colonial Assembly outlawed any meetings of Blacks. During the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, slaves joined the British who promised freedom. In August 1814, 36 slaves along the nearby Potomac fled to British frigates. Salubriaís owner, John Bayne, held from 4 to 19 Black people as slaves between 1826 and 1861. He had trouble maintaining his involuntary workforce and advertised for the return of runaways several times.

Struggling to Emancipation
At the start of the Civil War, Prince Georgeís County , Marylandís wealthiest county, depended upon slavery. Yet, slaveholders like Bayne lost their bondspeople to an emancipated Washington [D.C.] with its stationed Union troops. Though some Potomac Valley farmers like Bayne remained loyal to the Union with assurances that slavery could be maintained, runaways returned or owners would be compensated , none of this came to pass. All but a few slaveholders would lose most of their wealth with the emancipation of enslaved Marylanders in 1864.

Illustration captions:
“Our Maryland” Slaves in Tobacco field. Courtesy of the Maryland State Archives.
“Slaves at Corn Crib.” Courtesy of the Library of Congress.
Erected 2014 by Tanger Outlets: Experience Salubria.
Location. 38° 47.574′ N, 77° 0.209′ W. Marker is in Oxon Hill, Maryland, in Prince George's County. Marker can be reached from Oxon Hill Rd. (Maryland Route 414) south of Harborview Avenue. Touch for map. Marker is in the Salubria Memorial Garden which is accessible off the Tanger Outlets shopping mall's south-western parking lot. Marker is at or near this postal address: 6800 Oxon Hill Road, Oxon Hill MD 20745, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Dr. John H. Bayne: A Leader In His Community (a few steps from this marker); Salubria Changed the Future of the Potomac Valley (a few steps from this marker); Judah and Resistance (a few steps from this marker); Emancipation in Maryland (within shouting distance of this marker); Dr. John H. Bayne of Salubria “Prince of Horticulture” (within shouting distance of this marker); Front Door to Maryland History (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); John Hanson (about 700 feet away); "Salubria" (approx. ľ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Oxon Hill.
Additional keywords. Durante Vita ("during life")
Categories. African AmericansAntebellum South, US
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on July 2, 2014, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. This page has been viewed 276 times since then and 25 times this year. Last updated on July 12, 2014, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. Photo   1. submitted on July 2, 2014, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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