GEORGE WASHINGTON OWNED 316 BLACK HUMAN BEINGS AS SLAVES IN VIRGINIA AND TRANSPORTED 9 OF THEM TO AMERICA'S FIRST "WHITE HOUSE" HERE IN PHILADELPHIA AT THE 6TH & MARKET SITE OF THE NEW LIBERTY BELL CENTER.WITHIN THE NEXT FEW MONTHS OF 2008, CONSTRUCTION OF A MEMORIAL WILL RESUME AT THAT SITE TO HONOR THOSE 9 AND ALL OTHER ENSLAVED BLACKS.AND ON JULY 3, "THE 9 WILL SPEAK THE TRUTH WE SEEK" BY TELLING THEIR STORY OF ENSLAVEMENT AND RESISTANCE AT AMERICA'S FIRST "WHITE HOUSE."Biographies of the enslaved 9
Austin- Born between 1757-1759, he was approximately 32 years old when George Washington brought him to Philadelphia. He was about 15 years older than his half sister Oney Judge, whom Washington also delivered to Philadelphia. Austin was married to Charlotte, an enslaved seamstress, with whom he had five children. He toiled as a waiter, carriage footman, and probably stable worker who likely lived in slave quarters with two additional transported enslaved black laborers, namely Giles and Paris, and possibly another person. His death came on December 20, 1794 at around 36 years of age in Harford, Maryland.Christopher Sheels- Born circa 1774, he became Washington's sole attendant (i.e., "body servant") and was about 16 years old when brought to Philadelphia. He obviously was literate because, sometime in or about September 1799 at Mount Vernon, Virginia, a note written to him from an enslaved woman at another plantation was intercepted by Washington. The note included an escape plan that subsequently was foiled by Washington.Giles- Born around 1758, he was approximately 32 years old and served as a carriage worker and driver when brought to Philadelphia, where he apparently was housed in slave quarters with Austin, Paris, and possibly another person.
Hercules- Born sometime around 1750, he was Washington's thoroughly impressive chief cook who was about 40 years old when he was brought to Philadelphia. He was married to Alice, an enslaved seamstress at Mount Vernon. Together, they had three children, including Richmond. After Alice died in 1787, Hercules alone raised those children and probably had a fourth child later. Despite his renowned culinary talents and his "prominent" status in the president's household, Hercules knew that he was nothing more than a thing, a "species of property" to Washington. That is exactly why, sometime in March 1797 in Philadelphia, he escaped and remained forever "free" at some unknown location until some unknown death date.Joe (Richardson)- Also known as "Postilion Joe," he was born probably in 1769 and married a woman of his same age named Sall, a Mount Vernon enslaved seamstress. Together they had at least seven children. He was an approximately 26 year old presidential coach footman and stable worker when he was brought to Philadelphia on or about on October 20, 1796, which was five years after the other eight enslaved African descendants.Moll- Born circa 1739, she worked as a nanny to Martha's two youngest grandchildren and was about 51 when she was brought to Philadelphia. Moll was returned to Mount Vernon in 1797.Oney Judge- Born around 1774, she was the younger half sister of Austin. She labored as a seamstress and Martha Washington's personal servant. Oney was approximately 16 years old when delivered to Philadelphia. After discovering that she was to be given as a wedding gift, meaning as a mere thing, by Martha to Martha's eldest granddaughter, Oney finally had enough and planned an escape with the active assistance of Philadelphia's large relatively free black population. She executed the plan sometime between late May and June 1796, going from Pennsylvania, then apparently through New York, and ultimately settling in New Hampshire. Although Oney's escape was successful and permanent, it was not restful because Washington, as a result of Martha, was nearly unyielding in trying to track down and capture her. Despite Washington's and Martha's hounding, Oney, the married mother of three children, lived as an otherwise "free," albeit fugitive, woman until her death at about age 75 in Greenland, New Hampshire on February 25, 1848, nearly 50 years after Washington's 1799 and Martha's 1802 respective deaths.Paris- Born sometime around 1774, he was a stable worker at the Mt. Vernon plantation and later, when brought to Philadelphia at about the age of 16, likely was housed in slave quarters along with Austin, Giles, and possibly another person. After being taken back to Mt. Vernon in June of 1791, he died there in late September or October, 1794.Richmond- Born in 1776 or 1778, he was the son of Hercules and Alice. While in Philadelphia where he was brought at the approximate age of 13, he was a kitchen worker and chimney sweep. Four months before his father's successful Philadelphia escape in March 1797, Richmond apparently had an escape plan in Mt. Vernon that was uncovered and foiled.