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The hoe was a very important tool for agriculture in the British colonial world, and continued to be so in the United States after the American Revolution. 

Even after 1762, when George Washington shifted from growing tobacco as his main cash crop to wheat and other cereal grains for which the plow was used, the hoe was adapted for the growing process of other crops including corn and potatoes. Additionally, it was used for different stages of the process from the initial preparation of the ground to sowing seeds, weeding, and harvesting crops.

At the time of George Washington’s death in 1799 there were over 60 hoes in use at Mount Vernon, however, only five were recorded to be at Mansion House farm. While crops were being cultivated at Mansion House farm, it was on a much smaller scale than at the four other farms, and therefore there were fewer hoes at Mansion House.

The recovery of this hoe from the House for Families cellar allows us to think about the use of hoes by enslaved individuals to personal gardens to supplement the plantation rations issued by Washington and/or to grow products which could be sold or exchanged at local markets or shops for cash and goods. This object is useful in narrating black economic contributions to local colonial/early American markets, and speaks directly to a power to overcome the dehumanization of legalized racial slavery.

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