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A Slave in the White House Paul Jennings and the Madisons

ISBN: 9780230108936 | 0230108938
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Pub. Date: 1/3/2012

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Paul Jennings was born into slavery on the plantation of James and Dolley Madison in Virginia. As a young boy, he was part of the Madison household staff at the White House. Toward the end of the Madisons' time there, he helped rescue the portrait of George Washington before the British burned down the White House. Later, he became Mr. Madison's personal attendant during his retirement and got married to a slave in a plantation further off. Longing for freedom, he was finally emancipated by Senator Daniel Webster and became an abolitionist. He would later give an aged and impoverished Dolley Madison, his former owner, money from his own pocket, write the first White House memoir, and see his sons fight with the Union Army in the Civil War. He died a free man in northwest Washington at 75. Based on correspondence, legal documents, and journal entries rarely seen before, this amazing portrait of the times reveals the mores and attitudes toward slavery of the nineteenth century, and sheds new light on famous characters such as James Madison, who believed the white and black populations could not coexist as equals; French General Lafayette who was appalled by this idea; Dolley Madison, who ruthlessly sold Paul after her husband's death; and many more. It also introduces readers to slaves, abolitionists, and civil right activists hitherto forgotten.

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