Book cover of The 272: The Families Who Were Enslaved and Sold to Build the American Catholic Church by Rachel Swarnsby Rachel L. Swarns
@rachelswarns

“An absolutely essential addition to the history of the Catholic Church, whose involvement in New World slavery sustained the Church and, thereby, helped to entrench enslavement in American society.”—Annette Gordon-Reed, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Hemingses of Monticello and On Juneteenth

New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice • Longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal

A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR: The New Yorker, The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, Time, Chicago Public Library, Kirkus Reviews

In 1838, a group of America’s most prominent Catholic priests sold 272 enslaved people to save their largest mission project, what is now Georgetown University. In this groundbreaking account, journalist, author, and professor Rachel L. Swarns follows one family through nearly two centuries of indentured servitude and enslavement to uncover the harrowing origin story of the Catholic Church in the United States. Through the saga of the Mahoney family, Swarns illustrates how the Church relied on slave labor and slave sales to sustain its operations and to help finance its expansion.

Interview with the Author

Podcast art for The Last Negroes at HarvardThe Last Negroes at Harvard 
The 272: The Families Who Were Enslaved and Sold to Build the American Catholic Church
7/23/23            62 min


Podcast art for Biographers International OrganizationBiographers International Organization 
Podcast #154 – Rachel L. Swarns
12/2/23            29 min


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