Construction on the president s house began in 1792 in washington d c a new capital situated in sparsely settled region far from a major population center. Recent research has uncovered that the majority of laborers responsible for the construction of the white house and other buildings in the u s.
Slavery and the white house.
White house built by slaves. According to records from the time collen williamson a bricklayer trained the slaves to extract stone from the government quarry in aquia virginia. When construction on the white house began in 1792 the site s location between slave states virginia and maryland meant the labor force was made up of enslaved people and free blacks in addition. The white house was in fact built by slaves along with the capitol and other iconic buildings in washington d c.
Earliest known photograph of the white house. It has never been a closely held secret that enslaved african people were a vital component of the workforce that built the white house and the united states capitol. The image was taken in 1846 by john.
But the role of enslaved workers in the building of great national symbols has generally been overlooked or at times purposely obscured. Jefferson madison monroe jackson tyler polk and taylor all owned slaves while living in the white house. First the white house was not built solely or even primarily by slaves.
The records show that ben daniel and peter three slave carpenters owned by james hoban were just some of the workers who built the white house. Washington when michelle obama said in her prime time televised address to the democratic national convention on monday night that the white house had been built by slaves she was citing a. The decision to place the capital on land ceded by two pro slavery states virginia and maryland ultimately influenced the acquisition of laborers to construct its public buildings.
In fact slaves were lodged at the white house far past its construction. Most of the labor force consisted of local white laborers and artisans from maryland and virginia and a number of immigrants from ireland scotland and other european nations.