"[207], Washington presided over the Constitutional Convention in 1787, during which it became obvious how explosive the slavery issue was, and how willing the antislavery faction was to accept the preservation of this oppressive institution to ensure national unity and the establishment of a strong federal government. He was left eleven slaves by his father’s will; a portion of his half brother Lawrence Washington’s slaves, about a dozen in all, were willed to him after the death of Lawrence’s infant daughter and his widow; and Washington purchased from time to time slaves for himself, mostly before the Revolution. After the war, he expressed support for the abolition of slavery by a gradual legislative process, a view he shared widely but always in private, and he remained dependent on enslaved labor. Android. The True George Washington: Master and Employer: Treatment of Slaves. This video is part of our Ask Mount Vernon series where our experts answer questions submitting by students from all over the country. [39] He was constantly disappointed with enslaved workers who did not share his motivation and resisted his demands, leading him to regard them as indolent and insist that his overseers supervise them closely at all times. White people and people of African descent in the lowest stratum of Virginian society shared common disadvantages and a common lifestyle, which included intermarriage until the Assembly made such unions punishable by banishment in 1691. [4] He leased Mount Vernon from Lawrence's widow two years after his brother's death in 1752 and inherited it in 1761. [96] In 1760, Washington noted that four of his carpenters quadrupled their output of timber under his personal supervision. [49] Washington provided them with good, sometimes costly medical care – when an enslaved person named Cupid fell ill with pleurisy, Washington had him taken to the main house where he could be better cared for and personally checked on him throughout the day. Washington paid six pounds for nine teeth pulled from slaves, according to a 1784 ledger, but Mount Vernon’s website indicates the payment does not mean the … [278][220] It was published widely – in newspapers nationwide, as a pamphlet which, in 1800 alone, extended to thirteen separate editions, and included in other works – and became part of the nationalist narrative. The domestic trade and owning of … New mothers received a new blanket and three to five weeks of light duties to recover. [127] In 1774 he was a key participant in the adoption of the Fairfax Resolves which, alongside the assertion of colonial rights, condemned the transatlantic slave trade on moral grounds. [111][112] Whippings were administered by overseers after review, a system Washington required to ensure enslaved people were spared capricious and extreme punishment. That circular letter inveighed against “local prejudices” but explicitly declined to name any of them, “leaving the last to the good sense and serious consideration of those immediately concerned.”[153][155], Emancipation became a major issue in Virginia after liberalization in 1782 of the law regarding manumission, which is the act of an owner freeing his slaves. [14][15][16] Between 1752 and 1773, he purchased at least seventy-one slaves – men, women and children. His valet, William Lee, was freed immediately and his remaining 123 slaves were to be emancipated on the death of Martha. The stark increase in the enslaved population at Mount Vernon at this time reflected similar trends in the region. As Lafayette forged ahead with his plan, Washington offered encouragement but expressed concern in 1786 about "much inconvenience and mischief" an abrupt emancipation might generate, and he gave no tangible support to the idea. The enslaved slept and worked in their clothes, leaving them to spend many months in garments that were worn, ripped and tattered. A major new biography of Washington, and the first to explore his engagement with American slaveryWhen George Washington wrote his will, he made the startling decision to set his slaves free; earlier he had said that holding slaves was his "only unavoidable subject of regret." By age twelve Wheatley began writing poetry and by eighteen had become well-known for the publication of an elegy she wrote commemorating the death of a prominent preacher. 192, cited in Hirschfeld 1997, p. 12, Furstenberg 2011, pp were of... All slaveholders and remained so throughout their lives year, Mount Vernon ’ human! 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