Today's Article - The President's House

This article is for quizzes on Thursday February 18th...

The President's House, at 524-30 Market Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was the third Presidential Mansion. It housed George Washington from November 27, 1790 to March 10, 1797, and John Adams from March 21, 1797 to May 30, 1800.
Washington had a household staff of about 24, plus an office staff of 4 or 5, all of whom lived and worked in the house. His wife Martha and two of her grandchildren, "Wash" Custis and Nelly Custis, were part of the First Family. The house was too small for the 30-plus occupants, so the President made additions:

...a large two-story bow to be added to south side of the main house making the rooms at the rear thirty-four feet in length, a long one-story servants' hall to be built on the east side of the kitchen ell, the bathtubs to be removed from the bath house's second floor and the bathingroom turned into the President's private office, additional servant rooms to be constructed, and an expansion of the stables."
Although Pennsylvania had begun an abolition of slavery in 1780, it permitted slaveholders from other states to hold slaves in the state for up to six months. After that time, slaves would gain their freedom. Members of Congress were exempt from Pennsylvania's Gradual Abolition Act, but not officers of the executive and judicial branches. Washington and other slaveholders rotated their slaves out of the state to prevent the slaves from establishing the 6-month residency needed to qualify for manumission. His slave Oney Judge escaped from captivity in Philadelphia, and he gradually replaced most of his slaves in Philadelphia with indentured servants who were German immigrants.[1] Hercules, a cook who had worked in Philadelphia, escaped from Mount Vernon on February 22, 1797 and made his way to Philadelphia; later he lived in New York City.[4] He was listed among the slaves Washington owned and freed in his will of 1801; the fugitive Hercules may never have learned that he was legally free.

Completed in 2010, the memorial, President's House: Freedom and Slavery in the Making of a New Nation, is an open-air pavilion that shows the outline of the original buildings and allows visitors to view the remaining foundations. Some artifacts are displayed within the pavilion. Signage and video exhibits portray the history of the structure, as well as the roles of Washington's slaves in his household and slaves in American society.


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