The story passed down for generations was that the wealthy Quaker merchant Johns Hopkins was also an abolitionist. After he died in 1873, his multi-million-dollar bequest for the university and hospital bearing his name seemed an extension of an enlightened vision. So the discovery of census records that Hopkins owned enslaved people--one in 1840, four a decade later … is shocking. Hopkins president asked Professor Martha S. Jones, an authority on African-American history, to lead continuing research about the founder’s links to slavery. We ask why it’s important.