New Exhibit at Mount Vernon Will Focus on George Washington and Slavery

Illustration for article titled New Exhibit at Mount Vernon Will Focus on George Washington and Slavery

This October, there’ll be a new exhibit at the historical home of George Washington. Called Lives Bound Together, it focuses on Washington’s role as a slaveholder, as well as attempting to tell the stories of the slaves who lived and worked on the plantation.


That’s according to the Associated Press, which explains:

A centerpiece of the new exhibit, which will launch in October, is a display of Washington’s handwritten list of slaves on the estate from 1799, likely written in preparation for his will. Washington freed his slaves in his will, upon the death of his wife, Martha. She ended up freeing the slaves before she died. Other slaves belonged to Martha Washington’s family, and neither George nor Martha had any legal right to emancipate them.

The list, in Washington’s bold, instantly recognizable handwriting, is a powerful connection to the man himself and the men and women who were registered as his property.


The AP says that the exhibit will also attempt to piece together—as much as possible—the lives of the slaves who lived on the plantation. “We try to explore their stories,” said curator Susan Schoelwer.

“There might be some people of my generation who would prefer to leave him on his pedestal,” said director Curtis Viebranz. “Our challenge as an institution is to make the story of this man topical to the next generation of Americans.”

Photo via AP Images.

Senior Editor, Attic Haunter, Jezebel

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Something rarely considered which I wish would be at the front of more people’s minds is that many of these people were enslaving their own kin. Their children, their brothers, sisters, their child’s grandparent. So sick, so sad, I wish we spent more time focusing on slave narratives, their stories, their autobiographies and listening to things from their perspective much like we do with Anne Frank’s diary. Much more relevant imo than learning about some leaders who finally did an ounce of what they were supposed to all along.