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This past President’s Day, which granted many in America time off, honors the nation’s first president, George Washington. Washington’s legacy in the annals of history are well known, but it appears he used political trickery to keep slaves at work and in bondage despite laws stating otherwise.

In an opinion piece for the New York Times, University of Delaware associate professor of Black Studies and History Erica Armstrong Dunbar found in her research that the Washington family maintained slavery throughout their lifetime. Although many states in the North were slowly distancing themselves from slave ownership, the Washingtons maintained it as a means to maintain wealth and power.

Dr. Dunbar explained that after Washington ascended to the presidency in 1789, he continued to own slaves. In Washington’s later years, he attempted to distance himself from the horrendous practice but it appears to have been all for show. During Washington’s presidency, the family lived between New York, Pennsylvania, and Mount Vernon in Northern Virginia.

In 1780, a Pennsylvania law partly did away with slavery. Every six months, Washington’s wife would travel to Mount Vernon with their human property to avoid the application of the law. In 1793, Washington signed a fugitive slave act into law that would offered protection to slave owners and targeted those who would harbor and help slaves go free.

One of Washington’s slaves, Ona Judge ran away from the Washington estate because she learned that Mrs. Washington intended to give her away as a wedding gift to her granddaughter, a common practice of the time. Judge made it to Portsmouth, N.H. and married a free man.

The couple had three children but all were in danger because Judge remained a wanted woman. For three years, Washington’s men attempted to track down Judge to no avail. Three months before Washington’s death in December 1799, the pursuit for Judge was still in motion.

When Washington died, over 300 slaves lived on the Mount Vernon estate, half of them belonging to the late president. According to a will, the slaves were supposed to be freed after his death. But after Washington’s wife inherited the slaves, they remained in bondage.

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The Ten Most Interesting Little Known Black History Facts
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10 thoughts on “Little Known Black History Fact: George Washington and Slavery

  1. Mrknowitall on said:

    The freest most advanced black people on earth are black Americans. Sadly, some black Americans are taught to hate European Americans, Jews, Asians and Latinos.

    • Mrknowitall on said:

      Black ex slaves had slaves. They too must be sub humans. Abraham, Jacob and other people in the bible must be sub humans as well.

      • You don’t know it all after all. Many of the black ex slaves purchased their family members and other slaves to save them from the cruel and inhumane treatment from the white owners. And as for Abraham and Jacob being slave owners God must have seen good in them because he made an covenant with them and changed their names.

  2. Mrknowitall on said:

    You can by an african slave today sold by a dark skinned muslim. Why is farrakon silent on muslim the slave trade and terrorisum?

  3. Mrknowitall on said:

    Every slave sold to the British colonies was sold by dark skinned muslims. Brown Muslims controled the slave trade. The slave markets were and still are run by black and brown muslims. slavery existed in the bible. Abraham had slaves.

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