Letters to the editor

Rules of Capitalism

With regard to "The Namesake" [Spring], it should not be a surprise to any of us to discover that Johns Hopkins held slaves. Hopkins' Quaker heritage was at odds with his powerful business instincts and the commitment to capitalism that enabled him┬áto build the fortune from which the Hopkins institutions were created. That he had a strong interest in the accumulation of capital was shown in the split between him and his first business partner, Benjamin Moore, with Moore charging that Hopkins' interest in capital was the basis for their split. The rules of capital are strong, and in the pre–Civil War times in which Hopkins lived, it would have been quite difficult for someone interested in capital accumulation to abandon that capital, which would have been required for an outright act of emancipation. More consistent would have been the idea of graduated freedom after a period of time, a concept that would have been viewed as the gradual accumulation of capital on the part of the enslaved—providing, in effect, an opportunity for him to free himself.

Kirk Gardner, A&S '65
Montpelier, Vermont

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