Fundraising Trip to Jamaica

John Morgan

John Morgan

After the success of the South Carolina fundraising trip, the University decided to send a similar trip to the British West Indies, beginning in Jamaica in 1772. Because of a hurricane that had struck the islands that year, they ultimately decided only to fundraise in Jamaica, feeling it would be imprudent to ask for money while they were attempting to rebuild. For the fundraising trip, Dr. John Morgan was sent. Dr. Morgan was the founder of the medical school and owned at least one enslaved person in 1769, four years before he went to Jamaica. While there, he solicited donations from 277 people, totaling roughly £6,100 in Jamaican currency. This amount equals £4,357 sterling, nearly quadruple the amount that was raised in SouthCarolina.

While PS&P Researches are still researching the donors from Jamaica, based on the context and prominence of Jamaican slavery at the time it is safe to assume that many of the people whose names appear in the trustees’ minutes were intimately connected to slavery or the slave trade. The instructions that the trustees gave to Dr. Morgan were explicit in how they wanted him to collect the donations. He was told to spend time in the city, and then to visit the estates and plantations of those he thought most likely to donate. In other words, Dr. Morgan was visiting the homes of wealthy Jamaican families, where sometimes hundreds or even thousands of people were enslaved. While he was there, he was probably served by enslaved people, and certainly witnessed the horrors of Jamaican slavery firsthand.

~Caitlin Doolittle