The enslaved people who built and staffed the White House: An afterthought no moreBreaking News
tags: slavery, White House
Three hundred and seven. So far.
That’s the number of enslaved men, women and children who can be linked by historians to the building and staffing of the White House beginning in 1792 and lasting through the first half of the 19th century.
For years, those individuals have been remembered as an afterthought, if they’ve been remembered at all. Hidden from history, conveniently forgotten. In the White House itself, there is no mention or acknowledgment of the people who built it but were not paid. No mention of the people who worked and lived there but were not free to leave.
A new online exhibit by the White House Historical Association, a private nonprofit that sits across the street from the White House, explores that untold history. The project launched this month, “Slavery in the President’s Neighborhood,” is an effort to remind Americans of the role enslaved people played in the establishment and maintenance of the country’s most symbolic address. And, just as important, to attach names to those people and flesh out their lives and experiences.
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