"whose rule always is to work as little as possible": Fr. Marshall reports to Rome, March 5, 1821

Dublin Core


"whose rule always is to work as little as possible": Fr. Marshall reports to Rome, March 5, 1821


Catholic Church--Clergy--Correspondence Society of Jesus Georgetown--financial transactions Maryland Province--Plantations


Marshall reports that the Society is living beyond its means and must sell real property. No prospect that the Maryland farms will be profitable in the future due to bad management. Marshall states that the province has around 300 slaves of whom less than half earn their keep.

Keeping the plantations will only lead to greater losses. They should have been sold already.


Provincia Maryland 2 II 6


Georgetown Slavery Archive


March 5, 1821


Andrew Dial


Do not republish without permission of the Archivum Romanum Societatis Jesu.


GSA406: "unfit for human beings to live in": Fr. Adam Marshall to the Father General, February 6, 1821









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1- In 1818 the Corporation granted to the Arch Bsp of Baltimore 560$ per annum during 3 years to begin from the time of his consecration, these 3 years are past for some time & he has only as yet received 600$ leaving a balance of 1080$ I several times urged the Trustees to repeal the act making this grant, for I cannot see how they can as Jesuits give away the property of the Soc. in this manner tho they can as legal proprietors, besides the Bsp has shown very unfriendly dispositions toward us, by threatening to sue the Corp. for support and lately by very ungenerous treatment towards Mr Fenwick. I shall wait, until we are better able to spare that much money than we are at present, before I pay it.

2- Some years ago a plantation was sold in Harford County Md. by the instigation of Bsp Carroll + 3000$ of the proceeds vested in government stock + the interest thereof applied to the support of the Missionary who attended that place. I sold it and applied the proceeds to the support of the Sem. at the time that F Kohlmann with his scholasticks took possession of that house it was unfurnished + uncloveded and I had no money to procure anything for them + no prospect of getting any had I not secured it by the sale of this stock they would either have been obliged to leave their new establishment or starve in it. The ArchBsp considered himself as the guardian of this fund, and demanded an explanation of the reasons for withdrawing it which I declined giving him. The priest who then attended Harford was a secular, the church belongs to the Bishop + is one of the Missions which Bishop Neale had agreed to give up to the Soc. + the present AB took it away again.

3- This was stock in the loan office of the City of Philadelphia. F Francis in whose name it stood gave it up to me as property of the Soc. I do not know where it came from. If I did wrong in selling this + the above stock, I must offer for excuse that I acted under the law of absolute necessity: I also had the advice of the Superior + Consultors.

4- Mr. Alexr Divoff one of our scholastics has a pension of 15000 paper Rubles which by the time the come to him net about 2600$ sometimes more sometimes less, which he gives for the use of the Soc. it is of such vital importance to us that should it fail either by his death (he is a very delicate constitution) it would prove ruinous to us.

5- From this it is seen what calculation can in the present circumstances be made on our farms. had I been obliged to depend on them alone we must have been bankrupt before this: it also shews to what extent the expenses + debts of the Soc. had been carried beyond its regular revenue, and how impossible it is to carry on our system such as it is at present without selling real property. There is no prospect that our farms will become more productive for the future, the same cause which has hitherto rendered them almost useless still exist, which is bad management. Formerly they were in the hands of secular priests, who, besides managing them badly kept for themselves what little they did produce; since they have been in the hands of the Jesuits the have been managed as badly and what they produced was injudiciously wasted. It has several times happened in the frequent changes of mangers of farms that the successor began his operations by undoing everything his predecessor had done. in this way great injuries have been sustained. We have very few either among the FF or BB. who are in any manner calculated to manage temporal business, and those; particularly among the FF, who are the least capable of it, were always the most eager to be employed in them, and throw the greatest obstacles in the way of those whose duty it is to attend to temporals. It must also be observed that those of our lands in the state of Maryland which are not rented, are exclusively cultivated by slaves whose rule always is to work as little as possible. we have to maintain them + their families, and generally out of 50 there are hardly twenty that earn their support. we have about 300 of them.

6- There was every appearance that, by keeping this property longer, our loss on it would still be greater. The leases will soon expire, the improvements on it getting worse + worse, and the taxes on it will soon be very heavy: There was a valuable property of 20 acres in fee simple which had cost a few years ago 30,000, sold the same week for 9000. The Lit. Inst. Was not as good + only 5½ acres in fee simple. I think that all things considered it would have been to our advantage to sell it if it had been only for ½ the sum we did get. I shall however, I have no doubt, be much censured for this act, particularly by those FF who have acted as mentioned in 5-, and when they had done that left their tains to be repaired by others.



Archivum Romanum Societatis Iesu, “"whose rule always is to work as little as possible": Fr. Marshall reports to Rome, March 5, 1821,” Georgetown Slavery Archive, accessed May 30, 2023, https://slaveryarchive.georgetown.edu/items/show/461.