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Slaves in the White House

From a very interesting article in the International Herald Tribune

“…Slaves who worked inside and outside the White House were known for their labors. Washington planner Pierre L’Enfant rented slaves from nearby slaveowners to dig the foundation for the White House, and White House designer James Hoben used some of his slave carpenters to build the White House.

President George Washington forced slaves from Mount Vernon to work as staff inside “the President’s House” in Philadelphia during his term, starting a tradition of enslaved men and women working for the president in his residence that would continue until the 1850s. Not only did they work in the White House, enslaved men and women lived there as well.

According to the White House Historical Association, the slave and servant quarters were in the basement, now called the ground floor. The rooms now include the library, china room, offices and the formal Diplomatic Reception Room. At least one African-American baby was born there, in 1806 to Fanny and Eddy, two of Jefferson’s slaves. The child, who was considered a slave too, died two years later.

History values these slaves for more than just their labor. Continue reading

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