Soldier from Trappe
This was the home of Nathaniel Hopkins, known affectionately in Talbot County as "Uncle Nace." He was born a slave near here in 1831. After leaving his owner, Percy McKnett, and serving in the United States Colored Troops during the Civil War, Hopkins returned here to assist newly freed blacks in southern Talbot County. In 1878, he helped establish the county's first school for black children.
?????Hopkins also helped establish an Emancipation Day celebration in Talbot County to commemorate the adoption by popular vote of the new state constitution on November 1, 1864. The new constitution abolished slavery in Maryland, making it the first slave state to voluntarily free its slaves by popular vote. This was different from President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation which only freed slaves in rebelling states by declaring "... all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thence forward, and forever free..."
?????Trappe's Emancipation Day celebration began as a parade with local residents but later included participants from Delaware and New Jersey. The festivities came to include church services, speakers, food, games, music, and, of course, the parade led by Hopkins. He dressed in full U. S. Army uniform, complete with gold epaulets, a colorful sash around his waist, and a gleaming sword in his hand. Large numbers of spectators also attended. Bands, singing groups, horseback riders, and decorated wagons and carts followed behind him. Since Hopkins's death on February 22, 1900, Trappe's black citizens have continued the celebration he began now known as Nace Hopkins Day.
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: Like much of Maryland's Eastern Shore, the citizens of Talbot County were divided in their loyalties during the Civil War. Some white men from the Eastern Shore served in the Union Army while others joined the Confederate Army. On May 22, 1863, the Union's War Department issued General Orders 143 which stated, "A Bureau is established in the Adjutant General's Office for the record of all matters relating to the organization of Colored Troops...Colored troops may be accepted by companies, to be afterward consolidated in battalions and regiments. ... They will be designated: _________ Regiment of the U. S. Colored Troops." Throughout the rest of the war, both enslaved African Americans and freedmen from the Eastern Shore joined these regiments and served with honor and distinction.General Order No. 143, issued May 22, 1863