Where: David M. Rubenstein Leadership Hall, Fred W. Smith National Library
3600 Mount Vernon Memorial Hwy. Mount Vernon, VA 22121
When: Wednesday, February 15, 2017 | 7:00 pm
Mount Vernon welcomes author Erica Armstrong Dunbar to the David M. Rubenstein Leadership Hall to discuss her book Never Caught: Ona Judge, the Washingtons, and the Relentless Pursuit of their Runaway Slave
Details: When George Washington was elected president, he reluctantly left behind his beloved Mount Vernon to serve in Philadelphia, the temporary seat of the nation’s capital, after a brief stay in New York. In setting up his household he took Tobias Lear, his celebrated secretary, and nine slaves, including Ona Judge, about which little has been written. As he grew accustomed to Northern ways, there was one change he couldn’t get his arms around: Pennsylvania law required enslaved people be set free after six months of residency in the state. Rather than comply, Washington decided to circumvent the law. Every six months he sent the slaves back down south just as the clock was about to expire.
Erica Armstrong Dunbar is Professor of Black American Studies and History at the University of Delaware. She has recently participated in several documentaries, including “Philadelphia: The Great Experiment” and “The Abolitionists,” an American Experience production on PBS. In 2011, Professor Dunbar was appointed the first director of the Program in African American History at the Library Company of Philadelphia. She has been the recipient of Ford, Mellon, and SSRC fellowships and most recently has been named an Organization of American Historians Distinguished Lecturer. Her first book, A Fragile Freedom: African American Women and Emancipation in the Antebellum City, was published by Yale University Press in 2008. Dunbar’s newest book project is titled Never Caught: Ona Judge, the Washingtons, and the Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave.
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