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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Recently I finished reading the diary kept by the Marquis de Lafayette’s secretary, who traveled with him during a year long tour of the United States which they took in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the start of the War for American Independence.

One of the revealing aspects of this book is how progressive the Frenchmen are in comparison to the Americans. For all the excuses heaped about slavery being a part of the times in which people lived, and of it being accepted and of not having greater understanding of its inhumanity, here are two French outsiders who decry again and again the inhumanity of slavery and how it is a great crime. They already saw as manifest what the Americans would require a bloody civil war to make plain: slavery was evil.