How to buy the book

You can order at History Press as well as Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other on-line retailers. I will send you a signed copy for $23, a little extra to cover shipping. I will send you both Slave Labor in the Capital and Through a Fiery Trial for $40. Send a check to me at PO Box 63, Wellesley Island, NY 13640-0063.

My lectures at Sotterley Plantation in St. Mary's County, Maryland, on September 23, 2015, and the DAR Library on December 5 are now blog posts below listed under book talks. The talk I gave
at the Politics and Prose Bookstore on February 28, 2015, along with Heather Butts, author African American Medicine in Washington, was taped by the bookstore. Take a listen.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Stone Cutters Petition on their wages 1795

When they looked to Europe for workers, the president and the commissioners yearned for stonecutters because they feared those already in America "could command their price."

Quote from Slave Labor in the Capital, page 85

In 1794 and 1795 the commissioners tried to reduce their labor costs by forcing stone workers to do piece-work or accept lower wages. The petition below is a scan of a photocopy I took from the microfilm of the commissioners' records in the National Archives. As you can see the microfilmer improperly copied the letter and I think mislabeled it. I don't think it was sent to Congress, but was sent to the commissioners.

Stonecutters worked throughout the winter in sheds by the Capitol and White House preparing stone for the masons to set when weather permitted. It is unclear if the commissioners lowered their wage for the remainder of the winter or permanently. The stonecutters argued that they crossed "the western ocean" attracted by good wages. The evidence of Washington's, Jefferson's and the commissioners' desire to get indentured skilled workers is in the published writing of Washington and Jefferson. I share this letter to show the skilled workers' view which in essence was this: by emigrating to America to help build a republican government they were entitled to respect. Our Founders wanted to force them to pay their dues.  

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