Learn more about George Washington and the enslaved population at Mount Vernon.

At the time of George Washington’s death, the Mount Vernon estate’s enslaved population consisted of 317 people. Washington himself had been a slave owner for fifty-six years, beginning at eleven years of age when he inherited ten slaves from his deceased father. Washington’s thoughts on slavery were contradictory and changed over time. This evolution culminated near the end of his life; Washington’s will mandated the freeing of all his slaves upon his wife’s death, making him the only slaveholding Founder to put provisions for manumission in his will.

Ona Judge

Ona "Oney" Judge Staines served as an enslaved personal servant to Martha Washington until she escaped from the President's Mansion in Philadelphia and relocated to Portsmouth, New Hampshire in 1796.

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Forgotten No Longer

Take an in-depth look at the archaeological findings at the Slave Cemetery at Mount Vernon. Explore interactive maps, fascinating imagery, and more.


Slavery Database

A team of Mount Vernon staff and volunteers spent more than two years analyzing Washington’s papers and compiling references to the enslaved people who lived and worked on his plantation. Search by event type, person, skill, location, and more. 

slavery database

Evolving Views on Slavery

Learn more about George Washington's evolving views on the institution of slavery - a path that led to his decision to emancipate his slaves upon his wife's passing.

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