16 Terrible Facts about the American Founding Fathers that Didn't Make it to the History Books
16 Terrible Facts about the American Founding Fathers that Didn’t Make it to the History Books

16 Terrible Facts about the American Founding Fathers that Didn’t Make it to the History Books

Steve - January 15, 2019

16 Terrible Facts about the American Founding Fathers that Didn’t Make it to the History Books
“Washington as Farmer at Mount Vernon”, by Junius Brutus Stearns (c. 1851). Wikimedia Commons.

1. George Washington deliberately exploited a legal loophole in Pennsylvania law to avoid being forced to emancipate his slaves whilst serving as President of the United States.

After the ratification of the United States Constitution, whilst a new city was built to serve as the capital of the fledgling nation – Washington, D.C. – the city of Philadelphia was selected to serve as the temporary capital. Remaining the seat of government for the duration of Washington’s two terms as president, the commander-in-chief was forced to relocate to Philadelphia, bringing with him a number of enslaved persons to serve in his household. In 1780, Pennsylvania had passed the Gradual Abolition Act, stipulating that slaves were freed after they reached the age of 28 along with those who had lived in the state for more than six months.

In order to avoid surrendering his property, Washington would transport his slaves back to Mount Vernon, or on some occasions literally to the state lines, every six months. Through this method, kept deliberately secret to avoid scandal, Washington was able to perpetually reset the clock on his slave’s freedom and circumvent the clear intended purpose of the 1780 emancipation legislation. Reflecting his sustained desire to retain his Negro possessions, Washington also signed into law the Fugitive Slave Act in 1793 in addition to launching a three-year search for an escaped female slave who fled to New Hampshire after learning she was to be given as a wedding present.


Where do we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

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