As commander-in-chief of the Continental Army in 1775, he initially refused to accept African-Americans, free or enslaved, into the ranks, but bowed to the demands of war, and thereafter led a racially integrated army. [73][74] Children were born into slavery, their ownership determined by the ownership of their mothers. This was the first of several anti-slavery trade-acts of Congress. By the time of his death in 1799 there were 317 enslaved people at his Mount Vernon estate, 124 owned by Washington and the remainder managed by him as his own property but belonging to other people. George Washington enslaved more than 100 human beings, and he signed the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793, authorizing slavers to stalk runaways … However, we have to be careful not to romanticize this. Food was stolen both to supplement rations and to sell, and Washington believed the selling of tools was another source of income for enslaved people. Washington as a slave owner: Arriccio George Washington owned human beings before he ever made a decision to do so; he inherited 10 enslaved people at the age of 11 when his father died. His personal servant, William Lee, was the only one freed immediately upon his death. 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. Politically, Washington felt that the divisive issue of American slavery threatened national cohesion, and he never spoke publicly about it. Theft was a particularly frequent act of visible slave resistance. [63], Washington often tipped enslaved people on his visits to other estates, and it is likely that his own enslaved workers were similarly rewarded by visitors to Mount Vernon. He was also unusual for being the only slaveowning Founding Father to do so. Africans who had been baptised before arriving in Virginia could be granted the status of indentured servantuntil 1682, when an… “We've tended to be a little uncomfortable talking about George Washington and slavery,” historian Erica Armstrong Dunbar told InsideEdition.com. Speaking Thursday at the fourth annual George Washington Lecture—the intellectual component of GW’s recognition of its namesake’s birthday —Dr. Phillis Wheatley was an enslaved woman brought to Boston from West Africa at just seven years of age. In return, he expected them to work diligently from sunrise to sunset over the six-day working week that was standard at the time. 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. George Washington freed all the enslaved individuals that he personally owned in his will, but with the stipulation that that freedom would come when Martha Washington died. He was anxious to recover his own slaves, and refused to consider compensation for the upwards of 80,000 formerly enslaved people evacuated by the British, demanding without success that the British respect a clause in the Preliminary Articles of Peace which he regarded as requiring the return of all slaves and other American property even if the British had purported to free some of those slaves. Washington responded kindly to Wheatley in a letter, the only known missive that he wrote to an enslaved individual, and even addressed the letter to "Miss Phillis," an unusually polite way for a member of the gentry to address an enslaved person. Washington did not himself flog enslaved people, but he did on occasion lash out in a flash of temper with verbal abuse and physical violence when they failed to perform as he expected. George Washington's Views on Slavery In his writings, George Washington felt very strongly that slavery was an institution that needed to be eliminated from American society. [217][218][126][n], Washington took up the presidency at a time when revolutionary sentiment against slavery was giving way to a resurgence of proslavery interests. The son-in-law of Custis's sister wrote in 1853 that the descendants of those who remained slaves, many of them now in his possession, had been "prosperous, contented and happy", while those who had been freed had led a life of "vice, dissipation and idleness" and had, in their "sickness, age and poverty", become a burden to his in-laws. He displayed elements of both patriarchy and paternalism in his attitudes to the slaves he controlled. 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