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Mount Vernon's goal is to use language that respects the dignity of all.

When possible, the term “enslaved” is used to emphasize the humanity of each person, rather than a status imposed by others. They were people first and not solely defined by their lack of freedom.

The words “slave” or “slaves” are used when they appear in historical quotations or to refer to legal, social, or economic status.

Researching Slavery

Most enslaved people never had an opportunity to learn to write, so they left few written records of their own. At Mount Vernon we use Washington's words, combined with archaeology and oral history with descendants, to piece together the stories of Mount Vernon’s enslaved community.

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Explore the lives of 19 people who were enslaved at Mount Vernon, whose stories were pieced together through George Washington's extensive records. 

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Daily Life

Mount Vernon was home to hundreds of enslaved people. Their food, clothing, shelter, and time was heavily controlled by the Washingtons'.

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Community and Tradition

Maintaining customs and community allowed Mount Vernon’s enslaved people to affirm their humanity in a world that denied it.

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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.

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"The Only Unavoidable Subject of Regret"

Historian Mary Thompson's new book, "The Only Unavoidable Subject of Regret": George Washington, Slavery, and the Enslaved Community at Mount Vernon explores the daily lives of the enslaved community.

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