Mount Vernon was George Washington’s home. It was also home to hundreds of enslaved people who lived and worked under Washington’s control.

In 1799, there were 317 men, women, and children enslaved at Mount Vernon’s five farms, which covered 8,000 acres. They made up more than 90% of the estate's population.

My people [must] be at their work as soon as it is light-work 'till is is dark-and be diligent while they are at it...

-George Washington, 1789

 

Family Life

Family Life

Families were often separated by miles. Field-workers could be assigned to any one of the five farms without regards to their wives, husbands, or children. So efforts had to be made to share whatever free time they could with loved ones.

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Food

Food

The standard rations Washington allotted enslaved people were cornmeal and salted fish—almost all harvested by slaves themselves.

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Clothing

Clothing

Since enslaved house servants were highly visible, Washington provided them more and better-quality clothing than field workers.

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Resistance and Punishment

Resistance and Punishment

Though we don't have documentation from the enslaved workers, Washington’s records reveal how they resisted slavery in small but significant ways and the punishments they received for doing so.

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Skilled Trades

Skilled Trades

In 1799, more than 50 enslaved men and women were trained in specific trades that kept parts of Mount Vernon’s operation self-sufficient.

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Field Labor

Field Labor

The majority of enslaved laborers at Mount Vernon performed agricultural work on the estate’s four outlying farms. By 1799, women outnumbered men, who were more likely to be trained in a trade.

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Slavery Database

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. Use this database to explore Mount Vernon’s enslaved community.

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Forgotten No Longer

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.

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