Did George Washington Own Slaves


Did George Washington Own Slaves? The simple answer is, Yes, He did. But his opinion changed over time.

The question asked for a long time is whether George Washington enslaved people. The answer is yes. It was not only for financial reasons but also to show his gratitude to the enslavers. Many shreds of evidence indicate that he has many slaves in his lifetime and after his death.

There are many testimonies by those in his entourage that they witnessed him owning the slave.

Washington was a slave owner who had a messy relationship with subjugation. During his lifetime, he controlled 577 slaves. They were forced to work on his farms and any place he resided, including the President’s House for Philadelphia.

As president, he marked regulations passed by Congress that both secured and shortened slavery. His will said that one of his slaves, William Lee, ought to be liberated upon his demise.

Moreover, the other 123 enslaved people should work for his better half and be released upon her passing. Instead, she freed them during her lifetime to eliminate the motivating force for rushing her death.

George Washington at Mount Vernon

George Washington’s perspectives regarding the matter of slavery changed throughout his life. As a youngster, Washington experienced childhood in the general public. They supported the idea that slavery was both right and normal. His folks and neighbors possessed enslaved people.

When Washington’s introduction to the world, slavery was an imbued part of Virginia life for almost 100 years and a basic piece of the state’s monetary, social, legitimate, social, and political texture.

When George Washington assumed command over the Mount Vernon property in 1754, Fairfax County inhabitants were around 6,500 individuals, of whom somewhat more than 1,800 or about 28% were captives of Africa.

The extent of slaves in the populace, in general, rose consistently; toward the finish of the American Revolution, more than 40% of individuals living in Fairfax County were slaves.

Did George Washington Own Slaves

George Washington turned into a slave owner at the early age of eleven when his dad passed away. His father left him the 280 acres of land ranch close to Fredericksburg, Virginia. Also, Washington willed ten slaves.

As a youthful grown-up, Washington bought no less than eight slaves, including a craftsman named Kitt, who was gained for £39.5. Washington bought more slaves in 1755, four different men, two ladies, and a youngster.

After his union with Martha Dandridge Custis in January of 1759, Washington’s slaveholdings expanded decisively. His young lady of the hour was the widow of a well-off grower, Daniel Parke Custis, who passed on without a will in 1757; her portion of the Custis home carried another 84 captives to Mount Vernon.

In the sixteen years between his marriage and the American Revolution’s start, Washington procured more than 40 extra slaves. Most of the subsequent expansion in the slave populace at Mount Vernon happened to grow.

Did George Washington Own Slaves

Treatment of Slaves

Different sources offer contrasting knowledge of Washington’s behavior as an enslaver. Richard Parkinson, an Englishman who lived close to Mount Vernon, that’s what when detailed, “it was the feeling of all his [Washington’s] neighbors that he treated [his slaves] with more seriousness than some other man.”

An unfamiliar guest in America once recorded that George Washington managed his slaves “undeniably more others consciously than do his kinsmen of Virginia.” It was this man’s viewpoint that Virginians commonly treated their slaves cruelly, giving them “just bread, water, and blows.”

 Washington once condemned other huge ranch proprietors, “who are not generally as kind, and as mindful of their [the slaves’] needs and utilization as they should be.”

Toward the end of his life, he reflected on his years as an enslaver, mirroring that: “The unfortunate condition of the persons, whose labor in part I employed, has been the only unavoidable subject of regret.

To make the Adults among them as easy & as comfortable in their circumstances as their actual state of ignorance & improvidence would admit and to lay a foundation to prepare the rising generation for a destiny different from that in which they were born afforded some satisfaction to my mind, & could not I hoped be displeasing to the justice of the Creator.”

Change of Thinking – Paradigm Shift

Throughout Washington’s life, he was different from a young fellow to a seasoned man. Firstly he acknowledged slavery as an expected result. Later on, he chose at absolutely no point in the future to trade slaves. And finally, he held wishes for the possible cancelation of the foundation.

Presumably, the greatest component in advancing these perspectives was the Revolutionary War, where Washington put his life in extreme danger, his family, a sizable fortune, a steady future for independence from England, and a few optimistic ideas about the freedoms of man.

During the contention, his perspectives on slavery were fundamentally changed. Somewhere around three years of the beginning of the conflict, Washington, who was then 46 years of age and had been a slave owner for 35 years.

During the conflict, Washington headed out to parts of the nation where horticulture was attempted without using slaves. He additionally saw black troopers in real life, battling bravely in the Continental Army.

In no less than seven months of assuming control over the military, Washington endorsed the enrollment of free black troopers, which he and the other general officials had initially opposed.

Likewise, during the conflict, Washington was first presented with the perspectives of the Marquis de Lafayette, who vigorously went against slavery.

Then, between the finish of the conflict and the beginning of his administration, abolitionists started moving toward Washington, looking for his help for their goal.

Again and again, he answered with his conviction that the ideal way to impact the end of slavery was through the governing body, which he trusted would set up a program of slow liberation and for which he would happily give his vote.

Opinion on Slavery

As he wrote a letter to his companion Robert Morris in 1786. He wrote that nobody would peruse his resistance to the strategies of specific abolitionists.

For this situation, the Quakers, as resistant to nullification as an idea,

“I hope it will not be conceived from these observations that it is my wish to hold the unhappy people, who are the subject of this letter, in slavery.”

He further added that he could only say that there is not a man living who wishes more sincerely than he wants to see a plan adopted to abolish it. But there is only one proper and effectual mode by which it can be accomplished: by Legislative authority.

Washington confessed to Lafayette, nonetheless, that he “lost hope” of seeing an abolitionist soul clear the country. He trusted the more youthful man in 1786 that “a few petitions were introduced to the Assembly at its last Session, for the nullification of slavery.

However, they could hardly acquire a perusing. To set them [the slaves] above the water on the double would, I truly accept, be useful of much bother and naughtiness; yet by degrees it surely may, and definitely should be affected and that too by the legislative power.”

Liberation of Slaves

While he never freely drove the work to annul slavery, Washington attempted to lead by setting a model. He composed a will before his demise in December 1799. In this will, Washington left headings for liberation after Martha Washington passed the multitude of slaves who had a place with him.

Washington was not the only Virginian to free his slaves at this period. Close to the furthest limit of the American Revolution, in 1782, the Virginia assembly made it lawful for bosses to emancipate their slaves without a unique activity of the lead representative and board, which had been essential previously.

George Washington’s Will and Slavery

Of the 317 enslaved people at Mount Vernon in 1799, somewhat less than half, 123 people had a place with George Washington.  They were liberated under the conditions of his will.

At the point when Martha Washington’s most memorable spouse. Daniel Parke Custis kicked the bucket without a will. She got a day-to-day existence interest in 33% of his endowment, including the enslaved people.

The other 66% of the home went to their youngsters. Neither George nor Martha Washington could free these slaves by regulation and upon her passing. They returned to the Custis bequest and were split between her grandkids. By 1799, 153 slaves at Mount Vernon were essential for this dower property.

As per state regulation, George Washington specified in his will that older enslaved people or the individuals who were too wiped out to even think about working were to be upheld all through their lives by his home.

Youngsters without guardians or whose families were excessively poor were bound out to bosses and courtesans who might show them perusing, composing, and a valuable exchange until they were liberated at age five.

In December 1800, Martha Washington marked a deed of manumission for her departed spouse’s slaves. An exchange is kept in the modified works of the Fairfax County, Virginia, Court Records. The enslaved people would finally accept their opportunity on January 1, 1801.

Abolition of Slavery in the USA

In the United States, slavery was a legal and social institution. It was an economic system that provided workers with low wages and poor working conditions.

With the Civil War, the enslaved people were emancipated by President Abraham Lincoln in 1865. The abolition of slavery was one of the most significant events in US history.

Did George Washington own slaves? Is still considered the most debated question on the internet and at social gatherings.  

Related Posts

1)- When Was George Washington Born

2)- How Much Is a George Washington Dollar Coin Worth

3)- Who is George Washington

4)- George Washington Stamp

5)- Who were the Vikings?

6)- Russia – History and Geography

7)- Brief History of Slavic Tribes

8)- Who Was The First Ruler To Consolidate The Slavic Tribes?


Dr. Debra White

Hi, I am Dr. Debra White. I am a Licensed Mental Health Professional and has an experience 12 years of practice. I am contributing my thoughts and research on different topics. Feel free to contact me for any questions or concerns regarding anything at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *