Slave Owners are in Your Pocket
Making this display is really easy.
- get a sheet of 20 x 30-inch black foam core.
- on the long side, mark two vertical lines 8 inches from either side so the dimension is 8 inches – 14 inches – 8 inches
- score these lines (cut the foam core but don’t go all the way through)
- bend along these score lines so you have a free-standing 3-panel display
- below Slaveowner text is a link to are sheets you can print out and glue down
- get a stamp made that says “slaveholder”.
When Slaveowners Got ‘Reparations’:
Lincoln signed a bill in 1862 that paid up to $300 for every enslaved person freed by Tera W. Hunter in The New York Times.
On April 16, 1862, the District of Columbia Compensated Emancipation Act became law.
Pause for a minute to consider how much compensation would have been offered to the people who suffered torture and other human rights abuses and whose labor and families were stolen for generations. The answer is zero.
The federal government compensated the “owners” of enslaved people for their “loss of property.” The people who were freed were not compensated, nor given any assistance for the transition to their freedom.
Q: Did enslaved people help build the White House?
A: Enslaved laborers helped in every stage of building construction, from the initial quarrying and transportation of stone to the construction of the Executive Mansion. They worked alongside craftsmen, white wage laborers, and other free African-American wage laborers. Learn more here.
Q: Did enslaved people help rebuild the White House after the British burned it down in 1814?
A: Enslaved laborers were involved in the reconstruction of the White House. Evidence suggests that there were fewer enslaved workers involved in the reconstruction than the initial construction of 1792-1800.
Q: What roles did enslaved people fill at the White House?
A: Enslaved individuals worked in a variety of positions in the president’s household as chefs, gardeners, stable hands, maids, butlers, lady’s maids, valets, and more.
Q: Where did enslaved people live in the White House?
A: Enslaved individuals working in the White House often slept in the attic or in the Ground Floor rooms. Their living arrangements varied by administration. Accounts suggest these spaces were uncomfortable with extreme temperature disparity. In particular, the Ground Floor level was often damp and rodent infested.
Q: Where did enslaved people live and work in the President’s Neighborhood?
A: Enslaved individuals in the President’s Neighborhood primarily lived in the homes of their owners. Some slept on straw mats outside of their owner’s bedrooms to provide around the clock service. Others slept on kitchen floors, above stables, or in other areas of the home. Some residences, like Decatur House on Lafayette Park, built outbuildings or additional wings on their property to provide living space for enslaved people. Today, Decatur House has one of the only existing examples of a separate slave quarters within sight of the White House.
Q: Which U.S. presidents relied on enslaved labor at the White House?
A: According to surviving documentation, at least nine presidents either brought with them or hired out enslaved individuals to work at the White House: Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, John Tyler, James K. Polk, and Zachary Taylor.
Q: Which U.S. presidents owned enslaved people?
A: According to surviving documentation, at least twelve presidents were slave owners at some point during their lives: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, James K. Polk, Zachary Taylor, Andrew Johnson, and Ulysses S. Grant.