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The True George Washington: Master and Employer: Treatment of Slaves. It was a trend that threatened to bankrupt Washington. "[37][38] In Washington's view, "lost labour is never to be regained", and he required "every labourer (male or female) [do] as much in the 24 hours as their strength without endangering the health, or constitution will allow of". [308][309][310], George Washington's relationship with slavery. [212] After the convention, Washington's support was critical for getting the states to ratify the document. It is possible Washington hoped Martha and her heirs who would inherit the dower slaves would solve this problem by following his example and emancipating them. [23][24] There are examples of genuine affection between master and enslaved, such as was the case with his valet William Lee, but such cases were the exception. I said, “Wow that’s really interesting that George Washington has placed an ad—or rather, his people have placed an ad—in the newspaper for a runaway slave who they called “Oney Judge.” (Oney was the diminutive of her name like Timmy or Bobby; her name was Ona.) [222] He had a keen sense both of the fragility of the fledgling Republic and of his place as a unifying figure, and he was determined not to endanger either by confronting an issue as divisive and entrenched as slavery. Rewards in the form of better blankets and clothing fabric were given to the "most deserving", and there are examples of cash payments being awarded for good behavior. As a young adult, Washington purchased at least eight more slaves, including a carpenter named Kitt. Morgan writes that in 1772, Washington was "all business" and "might have been buying livestock" in purchasing more slaves who were to be, in Washington's words, "strait Limb'd, & in every respect strong & likely, with good Teeth & good Countenance". George Washington's Views on Slavery In his writings, George Washington felt very strongly that slavery was an institution that needed to be eliminated from American society. [94], Another means by which enslaved people resisted, one that was virtually impossible to prove, was feigning illness. By law, neither George nor Martha Washington could free the Custis dower slaves. [61] Each enslaved person was provided with a basic daily food ration of one US quart (0.95 l) or more of cornmeal, up to eight ounces (230 g) of herring and occasionally some meat, a fairly typical ration for the enslaved population in Virginia that was adequate in terms of the calorie requirement for a young man engaged in moderately heavy agricultural labor but nutritionally deficient. Updated February 28, 2017 | Infoplease Staff. [228][229] Washington also signed into law the Slave Trade Act of 1794 that banned the involvement of American ships and American exports in the international slave trade. [284], Any hopes Washington may have had that his example and prestige would influence the thinking of others, including his own family, proved to be unfounded. Wiencek suggests Washington considered making precisely such a statement on taking up the presidency in 1789. Washington still needed labor to work his farms, and there was little alternative to slavery. “In the state in which they were left by the General, to be free at her death,” Adams explained, “she did not feel as tho her Life was safe in their Hands, many of whom would be told that it was [in] their interest to get rid of her–She therefore was advised to set them all free at the close of the year.” In December 1800, Martha Washington signed a deed of manumission for her deceased husband's slaves, a transaction that is recorded in the Fairfax County, Virginia, Court Records. Washington inherited the 260-acre (110 ha) Ferry Farm and ten slaves. In the document, Washington left directions for the eventual emancipation of his slaves after the passing of Martha Washington. A kinder-than-average slave owner was still a slave owner, and Washington was not one to tolerate disobedience or attempted escapes. [273][274], In July 1799, five months before his death, Washington wrote his will, in which he stipulated that his slaves should be freed. "—George Washington, September 9, 1786 No history of racism in America can be considered complete without taking int The enslaved slept and worked in their clothes, leaving them to spend many months in garments that were worn, ripped and tattered. His will directed that all of his slaves be freed upon the death of his wife. Enslaved people occasionally earned money through their normal work or for particular services rendered – for example, Washington rewarded three of his own enslaved with cash for good service in 1775, an enslaved person received a fee for the care of a mare that was being bred in 1798 and the chef Hercules profited well by selling slops from the presidential kitchen. Miller-Matema is … [46] Domestic slaves started early, worked into the evenings and did not necessarily have Sundays and holidays free. 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