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[290] Within a few months, almost all of Washington's former slaves had left Mount Vernon, leaving 121 adult and working-age children still working the estate. There is a suggestion that slaves were implicated in starting a fire at the main residence after Washington's death, and there were rumors that Martha was in danger, including one that slaves planned to poison her. It's common to hear that George Washington was kinder to his slaves than most other elite planters in Virginia, and that claim largely seems to be true. [232] In 1798, he imagined just such a conflict when he said, "I can clearly foresee that nothing but the rooting out of slavery can perpetuate the existence of our union. Another 153 slaves at Mount Vernon in 1799 were dower slaves from the Custis estate. More active methods of protest included actions such as theft, arson, and sabotage of crops. [44] Between 1766 and 1799, seven dower slaves worked at one time or another as overseers. [267][266], In 1929, a plaque was embedded in the ground at Mount Vernon less than 50 yards (45 m) from the crypt housing the remains of Washington and Martha, marking a plot neglected by both groundsmen and tourist guides where slaves had been buried in unmarked graves. Enslaved people occasionally earned money through their normal work or for particular services rendered – for example, Washington rewarded three of his own enslaved with cash for good service in 1775, an enslaved person received a fee for the care of a mare that was being bred in 1798 and the chef Hercules profited well by selling slops from the presidential kitchen. He thinks hard of all, is despotic in every respect, he mistrusts every man, thinks every man a rogue and nothing but severity will do. The preeminent Founding Father of the United States and a slaveowner, Washington became increasingly uneasy with that longstanding institution during the course of his life, and provided for the emancipation of his slaves after his death. [296][297], There is evidence that some of Washington's former slaves were able to buy land, support their families and prosper as free people. Android. These individuals included Washington’s personal assistant Christopher Sheels, whose plan to escape with his fiancée was thwarted; the family cook Hercules; and Martha Washington’s personal maid Ona Judge, both of whom escaped successfully. 3200 Mount Vernon Memorial HighwayMount Vernon, Virginia 22121. [87] There is evidence to suggest that white overseers – working in close proximity to enslaved people under the same demanding master and physically and socially isolated from their own peer group, a situation that drove some to drink – indulged in sexual relations with the enslaved people they supervised. [96] In 1760, Washington noted that four of his carpenters quadrupled their output of timber under his personal supervision. [141][144], The first indication of a shift in Washington's thinking on slavery appears during the war, in correspondence of 1778 and 1779 with Lund Washington, who managed Mount Vernon in Washington's absence. Another source of loss was sickness, which, in spite of all Washington could do, made constant inroads on the numbers. [103][104][105], Jessie MacLeodAssociate CuratorGeorge Washington's Mount Vernon[106], Washington used both reward and punishment to encourage discipline and productivity in his enslaved population. When George Washington took control of the Mount Vernon property in 1754, the population of Fairfax County was around 6,500 people, of whom a little more than 1,800 or about 28% were slaves of African origin. Let’s start with their names. George Washington owned slaves and relied on their labor—and, as Erica Armstrong Dunbar reports for the New York Times, he used legal loopholes to avoid freeing them even as … "[231], Late in his presidency, Washington told his Secretary of State, Edmund Randolph, that in the event of a confrontation between North and South, he had "made up his mind to remove and be of the Northern" (i.e. Had required obtaining consent from the Washington library is open to all researchers and Scholars, by appointment only no. Crown, a dower-slave milkmaid, at Mansion House Farm in a circular glass case permitting a view. 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