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.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Hiring slaves to cut timber in Westmoreland County

The commissioners made that clear in December 1792. They bought a tract of woods called White Oak Swamp in Westmoreland County, Virginia, convenient to the Potomac so timber could be rafted up to the site of the White House. Their agent in the matter was William Augustine Washington, the President’s nephew. Young Washington found a man to oversee the operation and was advised by him to hire "twelve good Negro carpenters and ten Axe-men." Washington urged the commissioners to close the deal before Christmas, "as a Number of Negroes are generally hired out in this Neighborhood on New Year's day, after which time it will be difficult to procure them."
Quote from Slave Labor in the Capital, page 32

Unfortunately all the documents I copied were stored in a rough manner since 1989. Plus the original documents were not always in the best shape and putting them on microfilm was not always done properly. The main reason I am sharing what documents I have is to inspire others to collect, copy and share all the documents properly.

The letters William Augustine Washington wrote to the commissioners in late December 1792 show how tradition dictated the way slaves were hired, around New Year's Day and for a whole year. The letter also shows how sophisticated the process was. Young Washington, a gentleman planter like his uncle, found a Captain Elliott Munroe to hire, house and feed the slaves hired.

After Washington's letter to the commissioners, I added the commissioner's letter to him which I argue shows how they tried to wiggle out of paying any hired slaves carpenter's wages. I think the letters show that white contractors like Munroe were looking to optimize the profits to masters and himself by highlighting the skills of slaves by calling them carpenters, the commissioners were bent on keeping all slaves hired on laborers' wages. 

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