Buried Lives: The Enslaved People of George Washington's Mount Vernon
Buried Lives: The Enslaved People of George Washington's Mount Vernon
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Annotation: Draws on primary source documents and photographs of historical artifacts to examine the lives of men and women enslaved by the Washington family, and includes information on the present-day archeological survey of Mount Vernon's Slave Cemetery.
Catalog Number: #172048
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Publisher: Holiday House
Copyright Date: 2018
Edition Date: 2018
Pages: 158 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: 0-8234-3697-7
ISBN 13: 978-0-8234-3697-2
Dewey: 306.3
LCCN: 2016058471
Dimensions: 27 cm.
Language: English
Horn Book
This book uncovers details of the lives of six people enslaved at Mount Vernon under George Washington. McClafferty pieces together information from a variety of primary sources, including Washington's own writings (excerpts of many such documents are reprinted here). A final chapter discusses contemporary archaeological study of Mount Vernon's slave cemetery. Full-color photographs, documents, and maps bring the extensive research to life. Bib., ind.
Kirkus Reviews
McClafferty has written a monumental book about the lives of the slaves that lived and worked at George Washington's Mount Vernon. The bulk of the book is devoted to chronicling the lives of six out of hundreds of slaves known to have been the property of our nation's first president. William Lee, Christopher Sheels, Caroline Branham, Peter Hardiman, Ona Maria Judge, and Hercules are the enslaved people featured in this work. These six people are larger-than-life figures whose individual stories tell a deeper one about the history of America and the everyday evil and horror of American slavery. Though enslaved, they served this country during some of its most turbulent times, fighting in the Revolutionary War, taking care of Washington's person, and guarding Washington's papers as the Continental Army moved from place to place during the years of combat. This book includes photos of re-enactors at Mount Vernon as well as artifacts there and abundant archival reproductions. What is known about these figures comes mainly from George Washington himself, as the author relates in her introduction. With regard to what is unknown about the lives of the enslaved people, McClafferty takes liberties in making inferences about their motives and histories. In speculating why Lee, for instance, did not take the opportunity to escape to freedom in the British army, she does not discuss the penalties meted out to a captured fugitive slave but presents his choice as a binary one: stay with Washington or go. At another point, she suggests that Judge's white father, an indentured servant, "may have loved" her enslaved mother, without adding that an enslaved woman could not resist the sexual advances of a white man. These and other elisions make this a work that objectifies its subjects.Although the light shed on Washington as slaveholder is a welcome one, the voices of the enslaved are still not heard. (source notes, bibliography, picture credits, acknowledgments, index) (Nonfiction. 10-14)
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* "At the age of eleven George Washington inherited ten human beings, and he would own people his entire life." In this handsome, large-format book, the first five chapters describe what is known about six enslaved individuals who worked at Mount Vernon under George Washington, whose lives are fairly well documented. William Lee served as Washington's personal valet before, during, and after the Revolutionary War. Christopher Sheels became Washington's next valet. Caroline Hardiman was a seamstress. Her husband, Peter Hardiman, managed horse breeding at Mount Vernon. Both Oney Judge, Martha Washington's personal maid, and Hercules, the family's renowned cook, later made their separate escapes from slavery. Some of McClafferty's portrayals of these little-known historical people are more detailed than others, but all are factual and fascinating. While learning about their lives, readers will also see how Washington's views on slavery shifted over the years. Among the many beautiful color illustrations are period paintings as well as photos of sites and artifacts. The final chapter describes ongoing archaeological work at the cemetery where Mount Vernon's enslaved people were buried. The meticulous back matter links quotes to many primary sources as well as more recent works. An enlightening presentation on slavery in the late 1700s.
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
Starred Review ALA Booklist (11/1/18)
Horn Book (4/1/19)
Kirkus Reviews
Wilson's Junior High Catalog
Bibliography Index/Note: Includes bibliographical references and index.
Word Count: 40,817
Reading Level: 8.0
Interest Level: 5-9
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 8.0 / points: 7.0 / quiz: 500225 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:11.5 / points:12.0 / quiz:Q76380
Lexile: 1150L
Guided Reading Level: L

The untold story of the enslaved people of Mount Vernon, and the illuminating history that is still being discovered in George Washington's historic home today.

When he was eleven years old, George Washington inherited ten human beings. His own life has been well chronicled, but the lives of the people he owned--the people who supported his plantation and were buried in unmarked graves there--have not.

Using fascinating primary source material and photographs of historical artifacts, Carla McClafferty sheds light on the lives of several people George Washington owned; the property laws of the day that complicated his decision to free them; and the Cemetery Survey, an archeological dig that is shaping our understanding of Mount Vernon's Slave Cemetery. Poignant and thought-provoking, Buried Lives blends the past with the present in a forward-looking account of a haunting piece of American history.

Includes a foreword by Zsun-nee Matema, a descendant one of the enslaved people at Mount Vernon who is highlighted in this book, backmatter outlining the author's sources, and an index.

A Junior Library Guild selection
A Bank Street Best Children's Book of the Year

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