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The denier gauge is a material remnant of both Martha Washington and the plantations’ free and enslaved weavers. One of Martha’s daily activities was to oversee the weavers and inspect the products of the looms. The plantation as a self-sufficient operation would not have been possible without a large workforce, composed mainly of enslaved workers. At the beginning of George Washington’s ownership of Mount Vernon, he oversaw approximately 30 African Americans, a community whose numbers would increase to over 300 at the time of his death in 1799. These enslaved individuals worked for the profit of their owners, plowing the fields, forging iron, cooking meals, and sewing or weaving the cloth – the quality of which was measured and checked by Martha Washington using the denier gauge.

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