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When George Washington was elected president, he reluctantly left behind his beloved Mount Vernon to serve in Philadelphia, the temporary seat of the nation's capital. In setting up his household, he took Tobias Lear, his celebrated secretary, and eight slaves, including Ona Judge, about which little has been written. As he grew accustomed to Northern ways, there was one change he couldn't get his arms around: Pennsylvania law required enslaved people be set free after six months of residency in the state. Rather than comply, Washington decided to circumvent the law. Every six months he sent the slaves back down south, just as the clock was about to expire.
Though Ona Judge lived a life of relative comfort, the few pleasantries she was afforded were nothing compared to freedom, a glimpse of which she encountered firsthand in Philadelphia. So, when the opportunity presented itself one cold spring day in Philadelphia, Judge left everything she knew to escape to New England. Yet freedom would not come without its costs.
At just 22 years old, Ona became the subject of an intense manhunt led by George Washington, who used his political and personal contacts to recapture his property.
Impeccably researched, historian Erica Armstrong Dunbar weaves a powerful tale and offers fascinating new scholarship on how one young woman risked it all to gain freedom from the famous founding father.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Amazon Customer on 01-16-18
So happy to have been introduced to Ms. Judge!
Ms. Judge's story needed to be told and remembered in our country's history. For one, it's a great heroic tale of taking one's destiny in one's own hands. It also provides more insight into Washington's attitude towards slavery.
But let's face it, the amount of information that the author knew about Ms. Judge's situation could have been written in an (extensive) article rather than a book. The book relies too heavily on generalizations and imagined scenarios. Perhaps more research and specific knowledge of Judge's situation would have been appropriate.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
By Brad Turner on 03-07-17
This book kept my attention the entire time. The narrator did a great job. I've read a few books about George Washington and have always admired him. I still have great respect for the Washington family but this book gave me an entirely different perspective. Well done!
8 of 9 people found this review helpful