Lives were its engine ...
It is hard to imagine that a working plantation once existed in what is now Southwest Baltimore’s Carroll Park. But in the 1770s, this was Carroll’s Hundred, a mere ten-minute walk from today’s Inner Harbor. Our mission is to separate the authentic history of this place from popular colonial myth to reveal the true origins of Baltimore’s mercantile economy. In truth, it was founded on iron-making supported by chattel slavery and indentured servitude. For anyone seeking to understand the truth about the origins of the diverse, post-industrial city we live in today, Carroll’s Hundred must be ground zero.
Because so much has been written about the plantation’s owners, the Carroll family and their mansion — Mount Clare — our story focuses on the forgotten pioneers who worked the land and the iron furnace — African enslaved people, European indentured workers, and Native Americans. Charles and Margaret Carroll could not have survived and prospered without the vital support of the Hardens, Lynch’s, Halls, and Coneys. The discovery of these family names in the mid-1990s through research sponsored by the Foundation and conducted by archaeologists at the University of Maryland, as well as students in the History Department at Towson University, at long last gave a human face to these early American pioneers.
The Carrolls and this diverse labor force were culturally and economically interdependent. This was not New England, nor the Southern Low Country, but the Upper Chesapeake. Carroll’s Hundred was not dependent on rice, or sugar cane, or cotton — but on iron! Its iron foundry was at the center of one of the greatest technological experiments in human history — the mass production of goods — giving rise to the English industrial revolution of the nineteenth century. But this achievement came at an enormous human price.
The pioneers of this technological advance never shared in the credit or the reward. That is our objective now, to reveal the authentic origins of Baltimore’s economic success and the American pioneers who made it happen. This website will introduce the true founders of “The Port That Built a City”. It’s past time we understood and celebrated their achievement.
Carroll’s Hundred is a rare urban treasure! It is the only remaining plantation landscape in an American city. The preservation of its nationally significant African American history is imperative if we are to educate the public about this critically important story. Now, more than ever, Baltimore’s unique #BlackLivesMatter story must be given its prominent and accurate place in the history of our nation’s founding.
Help us continue our public education and advocacy campaigns to revive the living heart of this and other Baltimore neighborhoods.
For more, see The Otobo Project.