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George and Martha Washington's lives depended on the labor of Mount Vernon's enslaved community.

The Washingtons relied on enslaved butlers, cooks, waiters, and housemaids. There were also many enslaved men and women trained in specific trades. However, the majority of enslaved laborers at Mount Vernon performed agricultural work on the estate’s four outlying farms.  

Labor in the Mansion

In 1799, a team of at least ten enslaved butlers, housemaids, waiters, and cooks ensured the Washingtons and their guests' needs were always met. 

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A Day in the Life of an Enslaved Cook

Both enslaved men and women served as cooks at Mount Vernon and much was expected of them every day. 

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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

Under the supervision of overseers, field hands toiled from sunrise to sunset. They planted and harvested crops including tobacco, wheat, corn, vegetables, and grasses.

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A Day in the Life of an Enslaved Field Worker

George Washington expected his workforce to get as much done as possible every day, which could mean 14-hour days in the summer.

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At the time of George Washington’s death, the Mount Vernon estate’s enslaved population consisted of 317 people. These silhouettes are meant to represent people in bondage at George Washington's Mount Vernon. The designs were based on physical descriptions, age, gender, clothing, and work assignment.

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Daily Life

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

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