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Lives Bound Together: Slavery at George Washington’s Mount Vernon

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Explore the personal stories of the people who were enslaved at Mount Vernon, George Washington‘s 19th century home on the Potomac River in Virginia. An introduction to the Lives Bound Together: Slavery at George Washington’s Mount Vernon exhibition that’s on view until September 30, 2019, the video names some of the people known to be held by Washington and his wife Martha, and attempts to provide some insight into Washington’s “evolving opposition to slavery.”

While the educational video isn’t graphic, it is straightforward about enslavement and corporal punishment. It also uses common terms from the era. About the exhibition:

Through household furnishings, art works, archaeological discoveries, documents, and interactive displays, the exhibition, which spans 4,400 square feet throughout all seven galleries of the Donald W. Reynolds Museum, demonstrates how closely intertwined the lives of the Washingtons were with those of the enslaved. Nineteen enslaved individuals are featured throughout the exhibit, represented with life-size silhouettes and interactive touchscreens providing biographical details.

More than 350 items are on view—seeds and animal bones, ceramic fragments and metal buttons unearthed from archaeological excavations around the estate, as well as fine tablewares and furniture from the Washington household, providing insights into the enslaved community’s daily lives and work.


This 2015 video also summarizes Slave Life at Mount Vernon:

Related reading: “The Only Unavoidable Subject of Regret.”

Follow these videos with Food of the Enslaved: Michael Twitty cooks recipes from American history and Weaving on Mount Vernon’s 18th Century Loom.

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