By Elizabeth Dowling Taylor
Paul Jennings used to be born into slavery at the plantation of James and Dolley Madison in Virginia, later changing into a part of the Madison family employees on the White condominium. as soon as ultimately emancipated by means of Senator Daniel Webster later in lifestyles, he might provide an elderly and impoverished Dolley Madison, his former proprietor, funds from his personal pocket, write the 1st White condominium memoir, and notice his sons struggle with the Union military within the Civil conflict. He died a unfastened guy in northwest Washington at seventy five. in response to correspondence, criminal files, and magazine entries infrequently obvious sooner than, this striking portrait of the days finds the mores and attitudes towards slavery of the 19th century, and sheds new gentle on well-known characters reminiscent of James Madison, who believed the white and black populations couldn't coexist as equals; French basic Lafayette who was once appalled by means of this concept; Dolley Madison, who ruthlessly bought Paul after her husband's demise; and plenty of different for the reason that forgotten slaves, abolitionists, and civil correct activists.
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Extra info for A Slave in the White House: Paul Jennings and the Madisons
Courtesy of the Montpelier beginning) bankruptcy 5 “Change of brain” February 1837, Paul Jennings prepares the Washington urban condo to be used via the widow Dolley Madison and family within the 3rd week of February, Judith Rives, the Madisons’ Albemarle County neighbor, in Washington as a result of her husband’s Senate profession, wrote a letter to Dolley Madison at Montpelier: I took the freedom of going for your apartment a number of weeks in the past, and strolling all approximately it. . . . On asking the little lady who got here to the door if there has been anyone there, she acknowledged, “there was once a gentleman. ” i used to be approximately to retreat, supposing it used to be Mr. Todd, while she instructed me it used to be just a coloured gentleman—good Uncle Paul then stepped forth, and rather justified her appellation via inviting me in, and escorting me approximately within the so much gentleman-like demeanour. 1 Paul Jennings, approximately thirty-eight, had back to President’s sq. for the 1st time in two decades. the former summer time, James Madison had died, and alter were the watchword ever considering that. Mistress Dolley determined she could utilize her urban apartment on President’s sq. and despatched him forward to prepared the living. It was once in basic terms February, yet already the city noise was once amassing, as used to be that of spring’s first frogs, in anticipation of the recent Martin van Buren management. the ambience should have reminded Jennings of James Madison’s inauguration twenty-eight years past. As President Andrew Jackson ready to shut store on the White condo up the road, Jennings took inventory of a President’s sq. a lot altered, beginning with the identify. The Marquis de Lafayette’s go back to the USA because the “nation’s visitor” in 1824 had occasioned the identify shift in his honor, even though the Lafayette sq. designation took purely slowly. Dolley, for instance, persisted to exploit “President’s sq.” on her letters. the typical itself used to be not an deserted apple orchard yet have been landscaped previous to Lafayette’s stopover at. The restored White condominium now sported porticoes at either the north and south fronts: a daring oblong porte-cochère lined the north front, and a semicircular portico graced the south. part the building’s charred and weakened external partitions were rebuilt, during which the workmen dug out, in partial maintenance, the dinner show that Jennings had ready the day the British torched the mansion in August 1814. The George Washington portrait had some time past been retrieved from the Maryland farmhouse the place it had rested in security for numerous weeks after the fireplace and again to Dolley Madison, who had made definite that it used to be hung within the Monroe White condominium. 2 now not until eventually the final years of the Madison management had the sq. all started to buzz with building. at the same time the White condominium used to be being repaired, the cornerstone used to be laid for St. John’s Church at the contrary fringe of the typical, and the 1st Episcopal provider used to be celebrated there six months earlier than the Madison loved ones retired to Virginia. On Jennings’s go back to Washington, he counted approximately part a dozen houses dealing with the sq..