The demonstrations we see in cities and towns across our nation are, in part, a consequence of America's unwillingness to engage in a constructive dialogue on the legacies of race-based slavery and inequality. Slavery and racial oppression have deep roots in our society, both preceded the existence of the United States, and were not overthrown in our revolutionary birth. Even when free, Black Americans were rarely accorded the rights of citizens in our founding era, and full equal treatment remains elusive.  

We are still struggling to live up to the promises of our founding creed. We fought a revolution, declared "all men to be created equal," yet allowed slavery to continue. 

This is our imperfect union. Our “great experiment.” Ours is a republic that requires citizen oversight. It demands that we stand up, share ideas, and be heard. It requires our citizens to be students of history, to recognize the mistakes and inequalities of the past, to keep an open mind to new ideas, and to listen to each other. It asks citizens to vote to shape their future. 

Mount Vernon stands against racism. We recognize George and Martha Washington held men, women, and children in bondage. Mount Vernon stands with all who wish to help make our imperfect union, a bit more perfect. We seek to educate people about the past so they can reflect on these histories and create a better world for tomorrow. We do so by preserving the stories of those who called our estate home, not only our nation's founding father, who helped launch our flawed but powerful democratic experiment but those who served him in bondage and made his achievements possible.  Washington’s life, and the lives of the people he enslaved, are forever intertwined with our past and our future together.  

We encourage you to explore the lives of those who have come before us; people like Doll, Frank Lee, Hercules, and Ona Judge. Use their stories of hardship, resistance, punishment, and community to understand our nation's inequalities.  Remember and tell their stories while you explore the lives and ideas of people like George Washington and other founders. Then take these lessons to your communities, share with others, and use them to contribute to our nation's long-deferred dialogue.  

Mount Vernon stands in solidarity with those confronting racism and racial injustice and will continue to contribute to this important national dialogue. We invite others to join us by sharing their own thoughts.


Listen to Their Stories

Learn about the lives of individuals enslaved at Mount Vernon, their struggles, their hardships, their resistance, their punishment, and how they persevered.

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The Life of Penny: An Enslaved Girl

10,532 views 4 years ago
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3:24

George Washington's Enslaved Valet: William Lee

99,890 views 5 years ago
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The Life of Doll: Women of Mount Vernon

12,506 views 4 years ago
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George Washington's Enslaved Chef: Hercules

113,388 views 5 years ago

Slavery in the United States

Explore a timeline of legal and social events that impacted individuals, enslaved and free, from the founding of the nation to the Civil War.

Learn More

Learn About the Nation's Founding

The United States Constitution and Bill of Rights established a system that created inequality for many. The Founders did not get everything right. Part of the system they created requires citizen participation, without it our checks and balances do not work.

Reflect

Our nation's past is filled with complex challenges and imperfect decisions. But there have also been moments of great change. Consider your thoughts on these important issues, share them with others. Conduct a civilized debate where all may speak and all are heard.

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