Johns Hopkins (May 19, 1795 – December 24, 1873) was a wealthy American entrepreneur, philanthropist and abolitionist of 19th-century Baltimore, Maryland, now most noted for his philanthropic creation of the institutions that bear his name, namely the Johns Hopkins Hospital, and the Johns Hopkins University and its associated divisions, in particular the schools of nursing, medicine and public health. A biography entitled Johns Hopkins: A Silhouette written by his cousin, Helen Hopkins Thom, was published in 1929 by the Johns Hopkins University Press.
On May 19, 1795, Johns Hopkins was born on Whitehall, a 500-acre (two km²) tobacco plantation with approximately 500 slaves located in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. His first name, Johns (not John), was a family name. His great-grandmother, Margaret Johns, married Gerard Hopkins, and they named their son Johns Hopkins, a not-uncommon naming convention at the time; his name was then passed on to his grandson. His parents were Samuel Hopkins (1759–1814), of Anne Arundel County, and Hannah Janney (1774–1864), of Loudoun County, Virginia.
In 1807, the Hopkins family, who were members of the Society of Friends (Quakers), emancipated their slaves, which meant that the formal education of Johns, then 12, had to be interrupted in order to help out on the plantation. Moreover, his help was needed because he was the second oldest of eleven children and, as their local Friends society had decreed, the family freed only the able-bodied slaves, and had to provide for the less able-bodied slaves, who would remain at the plantation and provide labor as they could. In 1812, at the age of 17, Hopkins left the plantation and went to Baltimore to work in the wholesale grocery business of his uncle, Gerard Hopkins. While living with his uncle's family, Johns and his cousin, Elizabeth, fell in love, but the taboo against the marriage of first cousins was especially strong among Quakers. Neither Johns nor Elizabeth ever married. Still, just as he would continue to provide for his extended family throughout his life and posthumously through his will, Hopkins bequeathed a home for Elizabeth, where she lived until her death in 1889.