He would acquire many more in the years to come, whether through the death of other family members or by purchasing them directly. Paul Jennings was born in 1799 at Montpelier, the Virginia estate of James and Dolley Madison. Thousands of Images covering the History of the White House, Official White House Ornaments, Books & More, https://www.mountvernon.org/george-washington/slavery/slavery-database/, https://founders.archives.gov/?q=Correspondent%3A%22Washington%2C%20George%22%20Correspondent%3A%22Whipple%2C%20Joseph%22&s=1111311111&r=2. In August 1799, Washington made one more attempt to find and recapture Ona Judge. He was one of George Washington’s preferred tailors, eventually creating the blue uniform George wore when he was named commander in chief of the American forces in 1775. (Credit: Martin Falbisoner/Creative Commons). Governor John Langdon’s Home in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Ona Maria Judge Staines is the protagonist of Erica Armstrong Dunbar ’s Never Caught.Born into slavery at George and Martha Washington ’s Mount Vernon estate in 1773, Ona was, as a teenager, assigned to a position in the Washingtons’ home, where she worked as Martha’s seamstress and personal “go-to girl.” When George Washington ascended to the presidency, bringing Martha along … While she was likely grateful for the work, it was a change from the needlework and tending to Martha’s needs. (Baton Rouge and London: Louisiana State University Press, 1977), pp. When Washington headed to New York City in 1789 for his inauguration as president, Oney was one of only a handful of enslaved people the couple took with them. (Credit: Leemage/Corbis via Getty Images). Ona Judge, a young enslaved woman in her 20s, has recently received some terrifying news. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and sons. Kathleen Van Cleve teaches creative writing and film at the University of Pennsylvania. After Judge passed by without acknowledging her, Betsy likely told her father of the sighting, and her father felt obligated to notify Washington of his fugitive slave’s whereabouts. 248-50.. By then, Ona had an infant, and her husband [s2If !is_user_logged_in()] After she became too old for physical labor, Ona herself lived in poverty, relying on donations from the community. She is also the author of Never Caught: The Washingtons' Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave Ona Judge. 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. At some point during the spring of 1796, Ona made contact with members of the free black community that would facilitate her escape. George Washington to Joseph Whipple, 28 November 1796. Far from a passive bystander in the perpetuation of slavery, Washington at this point was actively engaged in returning Judge to his (or his wife’s) possession. Judge Esther Salas said her husband, Mark Anderl, would likely need additional surgery after having already undergone 13 surgeries since the attack in July. With an active and growing free black community of some 6,000 people, Philadelphia had become the nation’s leading hotbed of abolitionism. When he married the wealthy widow Martha Dandridge Custis in 1759, she brought more than 80 enslaved workers along with her, bringing the total number of enslaved men, women and children at Mount Vernon to more than 150 by the time the Revolutionary War began. Her friends in the free black community had already carried her belongings to the port and they were waiting for her when she arrived at the docks.10 Two days later, Frederick Kitt, Washington’s steward, placed an advertisement in the Philadelphia Gazette chronicling the details of Ona’s escape: Absconded from the household of the President of the United States. Oney Judge, a light mulatto girl, much freckled, with very black eyes and bushy black hair, she is of middle stature, slender, and delicately, about 20 years of age. Later, Ona Judge claimed that after Washington’s death, the family never bothered her again. PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (AP) - Stepping off a boat in a New Hampshire port in 1796, 22-year-old Ona Judge was on the run from the family of President George Washington.. Judge… Few enslaved workers left written records, let alone participated in interviews with reporters. Oney "Ona" Judge (c.1773—February 25, 1848) – known as Oney Judge Staines after marriage, was an enslaved African-American servant on George Washington's plantation, Mount Vernon, in Virginia. This article would not be possible without her scholarship. Judge holds attorney husband of RHOBH star Erika Jayne and his law firm in contempt after he misappropriated $2M in funds meant for the families of victims of the 2018 Lion Air crash. First, while still in office, he sent a letter through Secretary of the Treasury Oliver Wolcott, Jr. to Joseph Whipple, Portsmouth’s collector of customs. Ona Judge Staines died in Greenland, New Hampshire on February 25, 1848. Which administration holds the record for the number of Christmas trees displayed at the White House? For example, Christopher Sheels, Washington’s enslaved manservant received shoes once per year. Betty was lucky to be able to keep her son Austin with her with the move to Mt. She quickly became suspicious, however, when Whipple began asking personal questions to verify her identity—the type of questions that would be unusual in a job interview. Shortly after George Washington‘s death, the London newspaper Bell’s Weekly Messenger praised the first U.S. president’s decision to free his slaves in his will. All Rights Reserved. When a reporter asked why she chose that moment to escape, Ona said “she was determined never to be her slave,” referring to Eliza Custis.8 Eliza had earned a reputation among the enslaved women for being highly volatile and erratic—dangerous qualities in a slave owner. There are seven enslaved people that go, only two women, and Ona’s one of them. Jack Staines was at sea at the time, but Ona managed to escape to the neighboring town of Greenland, where she and her infant daughter hid with a free black family, the Jacks, until Bassett left Portsmouth, empty-handed. She has many changes of good clothes, of all sorts, but they are not sufficiently recollected to be described.11, The advertisement also listed a $10 reward for her capture and return, and conveyed the Washingtons’ shock and outrage that Ona would escape: “As there was no suspicion of her going off nor no provocation to do so, it is not easy to conjecture whither she has gone, or fully, what her design is.”12 Of course, it never occurred to the Washingtons that enslavement served as plenty of provocation for Ona to escape. Dunbar, of Wyncote, a professor of black studies and history at the University of Delaware, has spent nearly eight years coaxing Judge out of the shadows. 248-50.. Despite all the hardships, Ona enjoyed the benefits of a life of freedom: She taught herself to read and write, embraced Christianity and worshiped regularly at a church of her choice. Ona likely made her way out of Philadelphia immediately to avoid being recognized by Washington’s contemporaries.14 In one of her later interviews, she revealed that she had escaped on a vessel commanded by Captain John Bowles, who left Philadelphia and eventually made his way to Portsmouth, New Hampshire. It was common practice for slave owners to give their enslaved workers nicknames that ended in”y” to subtly infantilize adult men and women. Many slave mothers were less fortunate as the birth of their children added value property for their owners who could sell the child or the mother separately. She walked out of the house and quickly rushed to safety. Another, more insidious possibility also exists. She found lodging within the free black community, which was accustomed to aiding fugitive slaves, and supported herself doing domestic work, one of the few opportunities available for women of color. That encounter with Oney (who also went by Ona) was more than 20 years ago. Members of the free black community helped her get aboard a ship commanded by Captain John Bowles, who sailed frequently between Philadelphia, New York and Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Whipple owed his position to the Washington administration, so he reluctantly agreed to help send Ona back to Mount Vernon. Ona took the opportunity to share her thoughts on the institution of slavery, proclaiming, “that she never received the least mental or moral instruction, of any kind, while she remained in Washington’s family.”30 She also criticized the Washingtons’ piety, saying she never saw or heard any indication of “piety and prayers” while she was enslaved. Her husband died only seven years after their marriage and she could not afford to support her three children, two of whom pre-deceased her. Never Caught, the Story of Ona Judge CHAPTER ONE AMERICA’S DAUGHTER ONA’S STORY BEGINS IN VIRGINIA around 1773, when the United States is not yet the United States, and slavery is considered acceptable by many of the white people who live in what comprises the first thirteen colonies. Yet, he remained in the area until at least 1784, when Washington loaned him £12. (Baton Rouge and London: Louisiana State University Press, 1977), pp. Ona Maria Judge was born around 1774 at Mount Vernon. And yet, she never … During the summer after she escaped, Judge was walking in Portsmouth when she saw Elizabeth Langdon, the daughter of New Hampshire Senator John Langdon. Thank you to Dr. Erica Armstrong Dunbar for her work on Ona Judge. Many decades later, when all of her family members had died, Ona gave two interviews about her life and escape to freedom. She was never caught and would spend the remainder of her life in New Hampshire In fact, as Erica Armstrong Dunbar writes in her book, Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge, Oney would have been in the minority as a enslaved woman in Philadelphia; fewer than 100 slaves lived within city limits in 1796. Learn more about Ona Judge’s path to freedom. Ona Judge was a slave of the Washington’s who escaped to freedom while George was President of the United States. Upon her death, they were to be divided among the Custis heirs. I knew the Washingtons had slaves but I just didn't know how sneaky they were to work around their 'human property'. After fulfilling his four-year work contract at Mount Vernon, Andrew Judge moved off the plantation to start his own farm. It must have been incredibly scary for sixteen-year-old Ona to travel to New York City, a place she had never visited before. by the Rev. Dunbar writes in her book that Judge never intended to honor this agreement: “She told Whipple what he wanted to hear, agreed to return to her owners, and left his presence with no intention of ever keeping her word.” In any case, Washington bluntly refused Whipple’s proposal, writing that “To enter into such a compromise…is totally inadmissible.” Though he might be in favor of gradual abolition of slavery, the president continued, he didn’t want to reward Judge’s “unfaithfulness” and inspire other enslaved people to try and escape. Eventually, Judge’s husband, a sailor, passed away. He recommended that Washington secure a lawyer’s services and direct future letters to “the Attorney of the United States in New Hampshire.”20, With Whipple unwilling to assist further, Washington turned to Burwell Bassett Jr., Martha Washington’s nephew. That her life and escape to freedom while George was President of the slaveholder, according Virginia! 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