November 1, 1864 Emancipation in Maryland
In October 1864, the Union controlled government of Maryland ratified the third of four state constitutions. It abolished slavery in Maryland only with the help of votes from returning Union soldiers. It failed to franchise anyone except white males who pledged loyalty to the Union. Maryland was a border state, along with Delaware, Kentucky, and Missouri, which meant they did not succeed from the Union but kept slavery. Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation did not apply to Union slave states. On November 1, 1864, slavery officially ended in Maryland. Many slave owners petitioned the government for compensation for their lost property years after the war ended. With government power shifting to Democratic southern sympathizers, the 1864 constitution was replaced by the present constitution of 1867. Racial discriminatory laws and social practices continued in Maryland. St. Mary’s County, Maryland school desegregation began in 1968 and the process lasted into the early 1970s.
Above: Alfred Edwards, pictured here, was enslaved at Sotterley along with his mother, Priscilla.
He was emancipated at age 17 on November 1, 1864. In 1910, Alfred and his wife Alice, with their seven children and grandchildren, were living in an old slave quarter on what was once the Billingsley farm adjacent to Sotterley. Mr. Edwards died in the early 1930s.