Instead, she … White House Historian, This article is part of the Slavery in the President’s Neighborhood initiative. Ona Judge was a slave of the Washington’s who escaped to freedom while George was President of the United States. She continued in this role until 1789, when she traveled with Martha to the President’s House in New York City. Now, at the current Ona Judge exhibition, we’ll finally get to hear more of Judge’s side of the story, as it were. Betty, Ona Judge’s mother, came to Mt. Ona Judge was the daughter of Andrew Judge who was from England. Never Caught, the Story of Ona Judge CHAPTER ONE AMERICA’S DAUGHTER ONA’S STORY BEGINS IN VIRGINIA around 1773, when the United States is not yet the United States, and slavery is considered acceptable by many of the white people who live in what comprises the first thirteen colonies. by the Rev. After a five-day journey, Judge disembarked in that coastal city, where she would begin her new life. After Judge passed by without acknowledging her, Betsy likely told her father of the sighting, and her father felt obligated to notify Washington of his fugitive slave’s whereabouts. Many decades later, when all of her family members had died, Ona gave two interviews about her life and escape to freedom. But because her mother was enslaved, Judge, by law, became a slave, too. The History and Traditions of a Classic Dessert, Lindsay M. Chervinsky Her mother, Betty, was recognized as the finest seamstress on the plantation and was a “dower slave,” technically still owned by the estate of Martha Washington’s first husband, Daniel Peake Custis. Staines was a sailor and although the pay was decent, it was sporadic and seasonal. South Church, Portsmouth, New Hampshire in 1903. PORTSMOUTH, N.H. — Stepping off a boat in New Hampshire port in 1796, 22-year-old Ona Judge was on the run from the family of President George Washington. Andrew Judge’s indentured servitude ended in 1776, but he worked for Washington until 1781. Letter to the editor, The Liberator, January 1, 1847..As quoted in Slave Testimony, Two Centuries of Letters, Speeches, Interviews, and Autobiographies, John W. Blassingame, ed. Few enslaved workers left written records, let alone participated in interviews with reporters. With an active and growing free black community of some 6,000 people, Philadelphia had become the nation’s leading hotbed of abolitionism. Dunbar writes in her book that Judge never intended to honor this agreement: “She told Whipple what he wanted to hear, agreed to return to her owners, and left his presence with no intention of ever keeping her word.” In any case, Washington bluntly refused Whipple’s proposal, writing that “To enter into such a compromise…is totally inadmissible.” Though he might be in favor of gradual abolition of slavery, the president continued, he didn’t want to reward Judge’s “unfaithfulness” and inspire other enslaved people to try and escape. In 1845, Ona Judge was interviewed by an abolitionist newspaper. “Improving upon this direction of her husband, Mrs. Washington, ... Martha actively tried to recapture her enslaved maid Ona Judge after Judge ran away in Philadelphia. She is also the author of Never Caught: The Washingtons' Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave Ona Judge. Ona, on the other hand, said “she did not want to be a slave always, and she supposed if she went back to Virginia, she should never have a chance to escape.”13. Like her mother, she became a talented and highly valued seamstress, and was later promoted to become Martha Washington’s personal maid. And Ona really becomes, and had already really become, Martha Washington’s top … When Martha brought Ona to the President’s House, Ona left her family for the first time. Explore the Timeline. He complained that they were unreliable and lazy, yet George seemed to like and trust Andrew. Ona Judge was the daughter of Andrew Judge who was from England. Philadelphia's father is unknown, but in 1807 she was freed from slavery and married William Costin, an abolitionist and free man, who was the son of an enslaved woman, Ann Dandridge, and whose father was possibly John Parke Custis, Martha Washington's son. Vernon as a slave, when Martha accepted the hand of George Washington to marry him as her second husband in 1759. Many slave mothers were less fortunate as the birth of their children added value property for their owners who could sell the child or the mother separately. Judge Esther Salas said her husband, Mark Anderl, would likely need additional surgery after having already undergone 13 surgeries since the attack in July. Upon her death, they were to be divided among the Custis heirs. It tells about a very determined Ona Judge and very sneaky Washingtons. 248-50.. He would acquire many more in the years to come, whether through the death of other family members or by purchasing them directly. The Washington slaves knew that the president had taken precautions to prevent them from taking advantage of this law. Finally, Ona may have worried about Law’s questionable reputation. The shoe purchases are especially telling. When George Washington was elected president, he reluctantly left behind his beloved Mount Vernon to serve in Philadelphia, the temporary seat of the nation’s capital, after a brief stay in New York. This book is the story of her to run . Built c. 1824-1826. Additionally, if women’s shoes wore out more quickly than men’s shoes, Ona may have needed more pairs than the enslaved coachmen or postilions. She probably did the laundry, cooked meals, scrubbed floors, and cleaned the home—all physically demanding labor.16 In January 1797, she married a free man named Jack Staines and they moved into their own home. Six years after Ona was born, Betty gave birth to another daughter, Delphy.3. MasterChef judge Melissa Leong has announced her separation from husband Joe Jones, after almost four years of marriage. Yet freedom would not come without its costs. Moll, the enslaved nanny for Martha’s grandchildren, did not usually join them out of the house, so she likely needed fewer pairs of new shoes. Dunbar tells the story in a new book, Never Caught: The Washingtons' Relentless Pursuit of their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge (Feb. 7, Atria, $26). Upon arriving in Portsmouth, Bassett made himself comfortable at Senator John Langdon’s home.21 Bassett then went to the Staines’s house and knocked on the door. With antislavery sentiment growing in New Hampshire, and Washington’s influence waning as his term ended, Whipple did little more to pursue Judge on his behalf. When a reporter from the Granite Freeman asked her if she regretted leaving the relative luxury of the Washingtons’ household, as she had worked so much harder after her escape, Ona Judge Staines memorably replied “No, I am free, and have, I trust been made a child of God by the means.”. In the afternoon of Saturday, May 21, 1796, Ona slipped out of the house while the Washingtons enjoyed their dinner. By the 1780s, Washington’s feelings about slavery had changed, and he expressed his uneasiness with the institution to close friends, including his Revolutionary War comrade the Marquis de Lafayette. Washington had given him “orders to take her by force, and carry her back” if necessary and he shared these plans with Langdon.24 Langdon’s family had a long history of slave ownership, so Bassett assumed the senator would support his mission. Vernon. Instead, “Card-playing and wine-drinking were the business at his parties; and he had more of such company Sundays than on any other day.”31 The newspapers included these arguments to criticize the institution of slavery and its many cruelties. The gunman arrived at the home of Judge Esther Salas in North Brunswick, New Jersey, around 5 p.m., NBC New York reported. Ona likely made her way out of Philadelphia immediately to avoid being recognized by Washington’s contemporaries.14 In one of her later interviews, she revealed that she had escaped on a vessel commanded by Captain John Bowles, who left Philadelphia and eventually made his way to Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Erica Dunbar: [00:00:13] She found out that she was going to be given away as a wedding gift to her owner's granddaughter, that she would be returned to the South, a place that she had no interest in living. Thank you to Dr. Erica Armstrong Dunbar for her work on Ona Judge. In the end, Washington and his fellow founders would push the hard decisions about slavery off onto future generations of Americans–with explosive consequences. Learn more about Ona Judge’s path to freedom. There are no records to indicate why Ona received new shoes several times a year, but she likely received them because she was in New York and Philadelphia with the Washingtons.7, Ona may have been tempted to pursue her freedom during the early years of Washington’s presidency, but there were severe consequences for such an act. Ona Judge became Ona Staines and understood that her husband’s long absences at sea meant that she would have to defend herself if slave catchers … Members of the free black community helped her get aboard a ship commanded by Captain John Bowles, who sailed frequently between Philadelphia, New York and Portsmouth, New Hampshire. With a free black population of some 360 citizens and virtually no enslaved workers, Portsmouth was different from any place Judge had ever known. READ MORE: The Massive, Overlooked Role of Female Slave Owners, In the spring of 1796, when she was 22 years old, Judge learned that Martha Washington planned to give her away as a wedding gift to her famously temperamental granddaughter, Elizabeth Parke Custis. While the records of her son’s life are inconclusive, it’s possible his name was William and he followed in his father’s footsteps and became a sailor. Letter to the editor, The Liberator, January 1, 1847..As quoted in Slave Testimony, Two Centuries of Letters, Speeches, Interviews, and Autobiographies, John W. Blassingame, ed. Her mother, Betty, was an enslaved seamstress; her father, Andrew Judge, was an English tailor working as an indentured servant at Mount Vernon. But as his reaction to Judge’s escape made clear, Washington was not ready to give up on the bound labor on which his Virginia plantation—and his life—was built. There are no records of Andrew Judge’s departure from Mount Vernon, or whether his relationship with Betty was consensual. Eventually, Judge’s husband, a sailor, passed away. All Rights Reserved. When he was just 11 years old, George Washington inherited 10 slaves from his father’s estate. In April 1774, one of Martha Washington’s enslaved housemaids, Betty, gave birth at Mount Vernon to a daughter named Ona Judge. Oney Judge was born into slavery several years before the American Revolution. Later, Ona Judge claimed that after Washington’s death, the family never bothered her again. Ona Judge was born around 1773. Paul Jennings was born in 1799 at Montpelier, the Virginia estate of James and Dolley Madison. Bassett insisted Ona return to Virginia and “used all the persuasion he could” but Ona “utterly refused to go with him.”22 He even promised that the Washingtons would free her once she returned to Virginia, to which she replied “I am free now, and choose to remain so.”23, As an elite white southerner, Bassett was accustomed to African Americans obeying his every command. That encounter with Oney (who also went by Ona) was more than 20 years ago. In April 1774, one of Martha Washington’s enslaved housemaids, Betty, gave birth at Mount Vernon to a daughter named Ona Judge.1 Ona’s father was Andrew Judge, a white indentured servant who was employed on the estate. (Credit: Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images). Her mother, Betty, was a “dower slave,” part of the estate of Martha’s first husband; her father, Andrew Judge, was a white indentured servant who had recently arrived in America from Leeds, England. She has many changes of good clothes, of all sorts, but they are not sufficiently recollected to be described.11, The advertisement also listed a $10 reward for her capture and return, and conveyed the Washingtons’ shock and outrage that Ona would escape: “As there was no suspicion of her going off nor no provocation to do so, it is not easy to conjecture whither she has gone, or fully, what her design is.”12 Of course, it never occurred to the Washingtons that enslavement served as plenty of provocation for Ona to escape. Describe Ona Judge's life as a slave in Never Caught.How did her experience differ in Virginia, New York, and Philadelphia? As Dunbar writes, “Martha Washington’s decision to turn Judge over to Eliza was a reminder to Judge and everyone enslaved at the Executive Mansion that they had absolutely no control over their lives, no matter how loyally they served.”. Ona Judge was born as a slave into George and Martha Washington's household. During the summer after she escaped, Judge was walking in Portsmouth when she saw Elizabeth Langdon, the daughter of New Hampshire Senator John Langdon. Vernon as a slave, when Martha accepted the hand of George Washington to marry him as her second husband in 1759. ED: [00:21:26] She opens the door and she sees a face that probably drained the blood from hers. Accordingly, Tobias Lear, Washington’s household manager, documented regular purchases of textiles for dresses, bonnets, stockings, and shoes for Ona. Ona married John Staines, a seaman, on Jan. 14, 1797, and settled in Portsmouth. So, Ona Judge and six other enslaved people are taken to New York, where the nation’s first capital is. As the first lady’s bodyservant, Judge helped dress her mistress for special events, traveled with her on social calls and ran errands for her. While the newspapers did not print the interviews verbatim, the quotes are rare examples of a formerly enslaved person describing their experiences in their own words. Ona was often called Oney by the Washingtons, but later in life introduced herself as Ona, so we have followed her preference. Yet, he remained in the area until at least 1784, when Washington loaned him £12. She quickly became suspicious, however, when Whipple began asking personal questions to verify her identity—the type of questions that would be unusual in a job interview. Judge, who … For example, in June 1792, she attended the theater; in April 1793, she saw “tumbling feats” (probably acrobats); and in June 1793 she went to the traveling circus.5 Click here to learn more about the enslaved households of President George Washington. In September 1798, he sent his nephew, Burwell Bassett, to bring Ona Judge Staines back. Martha also left one enslaved man, Elish (or Elijah), whom she could have legally freed, to her grandson in an addendum to her will. After his election, John Adams resided in the same house in Philadelphia, before moving into the White House in Washington, D.C. on November 1, 1800. Husband … Ona Judge was afforded more comforts than most slaves, however, she risked it all to escape the nation’s capital and reach freedom. After she became too old for physical labor, Ona herself lived in poverty, relying on donations from the community. Dunbar, of Wyncote, a professor of black studies and history at the University of Delaware, has spent nearly eight years coaxing Judge out of the shadows. The New Years’ Day reception became a White House tradition with President John Adams in 1801 and ended with President Herbert Ho... Congress passed the Compensated Emancipation Act to end slavery in the District of Columbia and President Abraham Lincoln signed the... Women are often overlooked in history for their role in the institution of slavery. Ona Maria Judge Staines is the protagonist of Erica Armstrong Dunbar ’s Never Caught.Born into slavery at George and Martha Washington ’s Mount Vernon estate in 1773, Ona was, as a teenager, assigned to a position in the Washingtons’ home, where she worked as Martha’s seamstress and personal “go-to girl.” When George Washington ascended to the presidency, bringing Martha along … Twice a week we compile our most fascinating features and deliver them straight to you. Ona Judge was owned by the first In the 1700s and 1800s, many white people, including George Washington, believed that enslaved people were better off in slavery than free. Product details. After fulfilling his four-year work contract at Mount Vernon, Andrew Judge moved off the plantation to start his own farm. When Whipple tracked Judge down (by falsely advertising that he was seeking a female domestic for his home), he asked her about her reasons for fleeing bondage, and offered to negotiate on her behalf. A family member was perfect for this unsavory task that Washington wished to keep under the radar. 248-50.. “Runaway Advertisement,” Frederick Kitt, Philadelphia, 24 May 1796. Ona probably attended this church to hear Reverend Samuel Haven's sermons. He was one of George Washington’s preferred tailors, eventually creating the blue uniform George wore when he was named commander in chief of the American forces in 1775. Ona Maria Judge was born around 1774 at Mount Vernon. But when Whipple arrived at the docks to ensure Ona boarded the ship at the agreed upon time, she never arrived.18. Taking the surrounding historical events and known details concerning the Washington's life, this book paints the picture of how Ona Judge's life might have been while growing up to the time of her escape and beyond. Benjamin Chase. At age 10, she began serving as a personal maid to Martha Washington at the Virginia mansio… On October 4, 1796, Whipple wrote to Wolcott that he had failed to secure Ona. However, Landgon’s family had freed their slaves and rehired them as paid workers, even if they didn’t consider themselves abolitionists.25 Langdon “entertained Bassett very handsomely, and in the meantime sent word to Mrs. [Ona] Staines to leave town before twelve o’clock at night.”26 Upon receiving the message, Ona hired a horse and carriage to take her to Greenland, New Hampshire, where she hid in safety at “Mr. When George Washington was sworn in as America’s first president in 1789, his wife Martha did not accompany him to the nation’s capital in Manhattan. While she was likely grateful for the work, it was a change from the needlework and tending to Martha’s needs. Ona Judge, a young enslaved woman in her 20s, has recently received some terrifying news. Her friends in the free black community had already carried her belongings to the port and they were waiting for her when she arrived at the docks.10 Two days later, Frederick Kitt, Washington’s steward, placed an advertisement in the Philadelphia Gazette chronicling the details of Ona’s escape: Absconded from the household of the President of the United States. Philadelphia's father is unknown, but in 1807 she was freed from slavery and married William Costin, an abolitionist and free man, who was the son of an enslaved woman, Ann Dandridge, and whose father was possibly John Parke Custis, Martha Washington's son. This article was originally published The person shot Salas’ 20-year-old son, Daniel Anderl, when he answered the door and then shot her husband multiple times before fleeing. But Ona certainly met her father and likely had some relationship with him given his extended stay, which was not always the case for enslaved children. PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (AP) — Stepping off a boat in a New Hampshire port in 1796, 22-year-old Ona Judge was on the run from the family of President George Washington. 1 Ona’s father was Andrew Judge, a white indentured servant who was employed on the estate. Ona Maria Judge was born around 1774 at Mount Vernon. Tobias Lear Account Books, Philadelphia Household Accounts, 1789-1797. Ona died on February 25, 1848, in Greenland, New Hampshire as a free woman.32. Martha announced that she planned to give Ona to Eliza as a wedding present, separating Ona from her family and the life she knew in Philadelphia and at Mount Vernon. After briefly holding a live-in position with the Bartlett family in Portsmouth, Ona left and moved with her children into the home of the Jacks family, where they remained. Thousands of Images covering the History of the White House, Official White House Ornaments, Books & More, https://www.mountvernon.org/george-washington/slavery/slavery-database/, https://founders.archives.gov/?q=Correspondent%3A%22Washington%2C%20George%22%20Correspondent%3A%22Whipple%2C%20Joseph%22&s=1111311111&r=2. While Ona lived in Virginia, she was surrounded by several family members. Andrew Judge, Ona’s father, was also an expert at sewing. (Baton Rouge and London: Louisiana State University Press, 1977), pp. Betty was lucky to be able to keep her son Austin with her with the move to Mt. Over a month after the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills cast member filed for divorce from the famed attorney, a […] Far from a passive bystander in the perpetuation of slavery, Washington at this point was actively engaged in returning Judge to his (or his wife’s) possession. She walked out of the house and quickly rushed to safety. To help make ends meet, Ona continued her domestic work and they took in a boarder in one of their extra rooms.17, Washington made two concerted attempts to re-enslave Ona. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and sons. Though Ona Judge lived a life of relative comfort, the few pleasantries she was afforded were nothing compared to freedom, a glimpse of which she encountered first-hand in Philadelphia. There are seven enslaved people that go, only two women, and Ona’s one of them. Never Caught Summary. (Baton Rouge and London: Louisiana State University Press, 1977), pp. In 1845, Ona Judge was interviewed by an abolitionist newspaper. What are some interesting facts about presidents and first ladies? There are seven enslaved people that go, only two women, and Ona’s one of them. Unlike Washington’s other enslaved servants in Philadelphia, Ona received new shoes several times per year while working in the President’s House.6 Perhaps Ona wore out her shoes while accompanying Martha on her visits. Four months later, George Washington died, freeing all of his enslaved workers according to his will. He told his friends that he was looking for a good maidservant to help his wife. The exhibition will furthermore profile 18 other former slaves. Her husband died only seven years after their marriage and she could not afford to support her three children, two of whom pre-deceased her. In her interviews fifty years later, Ona referred to John Langdon as Governor. So, when the opportunity presented itself, Judge left everything she knew to escape to New England. How many weddings have been held at the White House? Salas was reportedly in the basement at the time of the shooting and was not injured. Stunned by Ona’s lack of cooperation, he returned to Langdon’s house to regroup. So said former slave Ona Judge during an interview in 1845, long after she had obtained her freedom, and long after her owners, George and Martha Washington, had tried to get her back. Technically, Ona was owned by Martha Washington’s first husband so she would not have been qualified to receive liberation in George’s will, meaning her only hope was to take the risky running into her own hands. (Credit: Martin Falbisoner/Creative Commons). As children born to enslaved women were considered property of the slaveholder, according to Virginia law, his daughter remained in bondage. Kathleen Van Cleve teaches creative writing and film at the University of Pennsylvania. In January 1797, she married Jack Staines, a free black sailor. In the 1830s, both of Ona’s daughters also passed away and she became increasingly involved in her church community and perhaps the abolitionist movement.29 In late 1845 and early 1846, Ona gave two interviews to abolitionist newspapers in New Hampshire. N ever Caught is a nonfiction book about the life of Ona Judge, a woman who was enslaved by George and Martha Washington and escaped.. For example, Christopher Sheels, Washington’s enslaved manservant received shoes once per year. A depiction of George Washington during a harvest. Never Caught: The Washingtons' Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge by Erica Armstrong Dunbar is a very informative and interesting read. The baby Eliza grows into a toddler and one day when Ona's husband Jack is out at sea there's a knock at the door. Watcher in the Woods is the next gripping installment of #1 bestselling Kelley Armstrong's riveting Casey Duncan series.. This article would not be possible without her scholarship. It would have made her a fugitive in the eyes of the law and she likely would never be able to see her family again. So Ona Judge passed the disease of slavery through her lineage to her children, making Ona and her children the property of Martha Washington. Betty, Ona Judge’s mother, came to Mt. Burwell Bassett. NEW YORK (Reuters) – Ghislaine Maxwell, the British socialite facing criminal charges she helped procure girls for the late financier Jeffrey Epstein to sexually abuse, on Monday forcefully proclaimed her innocence and proposed a $28.5 million bail package in a renewed effort to be freed from a New York jail this year. Never Caught: The Washingtons' Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge - Ebook written by Erica Armstrong Dunbar. Which administration holds the record for the number of Christmas trees displayed at the White House? Considered the last “Founding Father” president, James Monroe was born in 1758 into an affluent, slave owning family in Westmoreland County, Virg... Andrew Johnson’s close association with Abraham Lincoln, as both his vice president and his successor, often disguises Johnson’s own... Uncovering the lives of enslaved people poses many challenges. She worked exclusively for Martha Washington in every capacity of a personal maid and was shocked and horrified that Martha would callously give her away to her incredibly selfish and nasty-tempered granddaughter as a wedding present! Ona Judge Staines lived with her husband and their three children until Jack’s death in 1803. Late the following year, when the federal capital moved to Philadelphia, the presidential household moved with it. Ona Judge Plots Her Escape. He subsequently wrote to Washington that she had agreed to return, on the condition that she be freed when Martha Washington died. by the Rev. Download for offline reading, highlight, bookmark or take notes while you read Never Caught: The Washingtons' Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge. Ona took the opportunity to share her thoughts on the institution of slavery, proclaiming, “that she never received the least mental or moral instruction, of any kind, while she remained in Washington’s family.”30 She also criticized the Washingtons’ piety, saying she never saw or heard any indication of “piety and prayers” while she was enslaved. She revealed, “I never told his name till after he died, a few years since, les they should punish him for bringing me away.”15, Once she arrived in Portsmouth, Ona found lodging with a free African-American family. Betty was lucky to be able to keep her son Austin with her with the move to Mt. In 1803, Jack Staines died and Ona moved in with the Jack family to share household expenses. So, as the household prepared for the Washingtons’ return to Mount Vernon for the summer, Judge made plans for her escape. Ona Judge had come to the Washington's massive collection of over three hundred slaves when she was an infant. A judge has just recommended that Erika Jayne‘s estranged husband Thomas Girardi face criminal investigation over embezzlement claims as his assets, as well as the assets of his law firm, Girardi Keese, were also frozen. At some point during the spring of 1796, Ona made contact with members of the free black community that would facilitate her escape. Ona Judge, a young enslaved woman in her 20s, has recently received some terrifying news. Though marriage gave her some additional legal protection, Ona remained vigilant–with good reason. Several years before her death in 1848, she granted two interviews to abolitionist newspapers recounting her journey from bondage. Reuters. The South Church is pictured, where Ona Judge was married in 1797 to Jack Staines. By then, Ona had an infant, and her husband [s2If !is_user_logged_in()] When Bassett dined with Langdon and told him of his intention, the senator quickly got word to Ona through one of his servants. Ona Judge Staines died in Greenland, New Hampshire on February 25, 1848. A few years later, Ona gave birth to a second daughter, Nancy, and then a son. The 38-year old shared … Her mother, Betty Davis, served a seamstress for the Washingtons at their Mount Vernon plantation. He recommended that Washington secure a lawyer’s services and direct future letters to “the Attorney of the United States in New Hampshire.”20, With Whipple unwilling to assist further, Washington turned to Burwell Bassett Jr., Martha Washington’s nephew. This book puts a face and a story to that of early enslaved people and makes it clear that enslaved people always desired the ability to make choices for themselves. In 1789, the new federal government was located in New York City. Ona’s status as Martha’s preferred lady’s maid meant that she received a fancier wardrobe than most enslaved people because she visited homes and buildings normally off-limits to enslaved people. Ona also accompanied Martha on her social visits and attended to the first lady’s needs at home. In fact, as Erica Armstrong Dunbar writes in her book, Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge, Oney would have been in the minority as a enslaved woman in Philadelphia; fewer than 100 slaves lived within city limits in 1796. When he married the wealthy widow Martha Dandridge Custis in 1759, she brought more than 80 enslaved workers along with her, bringing the total number of enslaved men, women and children at Mount Vernon to more than 150 by the time the Revolutionary War began. Judge was secretly placed aboard the Nancy, a ship piloted by Captain John Bowles and bound for Portsmouth, New Hampshire. While I was aware that the Washington's held slaves, the history surrounding Ona Judge was new to … It must have been incredibly scary for sixteen-year-old Ona to travel to New York City, a place she had never visited before. She found lodging within the free black community, which was accustomed to aiding fugitive slaves, and supported herself doing domestic work, one of the few opportunities available for women of color. Ona Judge Staines lived with her husband and their three children until Jack’s death in 1803. After she fell into a fearful silence, Whipple confessed that he had received instructions from President Washington, but that he was eager to help her and would try and negotiate her eventual manumission. Ona’s calculations changed after March 21, 1796, when Eliza Custis, Martha’s granddaughter, married Thomas Law. Much like George’s enslaved manservant, coachmen, and postilions, these individuals wore fancy livery because their uniforms needed to reflect the president’s wealth and status; Ona’s clothing was an extension of Martha’s status. FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. Frustrated, Washington wrote directly to Whipple asking him to return Ona by force.19 A quiet abolitionist, Whipple was deeply uncomfortable with this sort of violence. There are no records of how she was introduced to this community or who helped her, and Ona kept this information secret to protect everyone’s safety. Her two daughters, Eliza and Nancy, were sadly forced into indentured servitude; both died before their mother. Ona, more commonly known as Oney, moved into the mansion house when she was just 9 years old. Such interactions undoubtedly fueled her thinking about slavery, the changing laws regarding the institution and the possibilities of freedom. Ona’s father was an English indentured servant who had worked at Mount Vernon. Ona Judge would look over her shoulder for the rest of her life. Whenever possible, this article uses Ona’s words to tell her remarkable story. 1846 interview with Ona Judge Staines. And Ona really becomes, and had already really become, Martha Washington’s top slave, for the lack of a better term or phrase. Given Ona’s enslaved status, any white man could sexually assault her without punishment and she may have feared for her safety in a new household with a disreputable owner.9. October 21, 2019, Next In 1796, a 22-year-old enslaved woman named Ona Judge fled President George Washington’s household for a life of freedom in New Hampshire. “A Slave of George Washington,” Benjamin Chase, Auburn, NH, December 1846. At sixteen, Ona may have been growing still and she may have outgrown her earlier shoes. The Massive, Overlooked Role of Female Slave Owners. PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (AP) - Stepping off a boat in a New Hampshire port in 1796, 22-year-old Ona Judge was on the run from the family of President George Washington.. Judge… Ona learned of the inquiry and met with Whipple to discuss the position. Her husband died only seven years after their marriage and she could not afford to support her three children, two of whom pre-deceased her. But New York City, and then Philadelphia, offered new opportunities.4 Ona encountered a sizable free African-American community for the first time, saw interesting sights, tasted different foods, and met new people. Martha Washington, who lived until 1802, couldn’t even legally have emancipated her enslaved workers upon her death (including, technically, Oney Judge Staines and her children), as they were part of her inheritance from her first husband and by law went to her surviving grandchildren. When Law arrived in Philadelphia, he brought his two illegitimate children that he had fathered while in India and he was plagued by rumors about his character. When a reporter asked why she chose that moment to escape, Ona said “she was determined never to be her slave,” referring to Eliza Custis.8 Eliza had earned a reputation among the enslaved women for being highly volatile and erratic—dangerous qualities in a slave owner. Betsy Langdon recognized Oney, having encountered her before when calling on Martha Washington, a family friend, or her granddaughter Nelly Custis. In August 1799, Washington asked his nephew, Burwell Bassett Jr., to try and seize Judge and any children she may have had on his upcoming business trip to New Hampshire. The advertisement was posted by Frederick Kitt in the Philadelphia Gazette on May 23, 1796. Oney "Ona" Judge (c.1773—February 25, 1848) – known as Oney Judge Staines after marriage, was an enslaved African-American servant on George Washington's plantation, Mount Vernon, in Virginia. She revealed that her life in Portsmouth had been difficult. Read this book using Google Play Books app on your PC, android, iOS devices. Beginning in 1789, she worked as a personal servant to First Lady Martha Washington in the presidential households in New York City and Philadelphia. Despite all the hardships, Ona enjoyed the benefits of a life of freedom: She taught herself to read and write, embraced Christianity and worshiped regularly at a church of her choice. Washington, his family, and his enslaved workers lived in two different homes in New York City until the summer of 1790. And yet, she never … Over more than five years in Philadelphia—traveling in and out every six months—she met and became acquainted with members of the city’s free black community and former enslaved workers who had gained their freedom under the gradual abolition law. Judge had been among a group of slaves held by the estate of Martha Washington's first husband, Daniel Parke Custis. The couple went on to have three children: Eliza, Will, and Nancy. Jack’s.”27 This attempt was the last time Ona heard from her former owners, as Washington died shortly thereafter and “they never troubled me any more after he was gone.”28. Just eight months after her escape from the President’s House, Ona Judge married Jack Staines here, a free black seaman, with whom she would have three children. First, while still in office, he sent a letter through Secretary of the Treasury Oliver Wolcott, Jr. to Joseph Whipple, Portsmouth’s collector of customs. Trying to act discreetly, Washington got in contact with Joseph Whipple, the collector of customs in Portsmouth and the brother of famed Revolutionary General William Whipple. Market Square in Portsmouth, New Hampshire in 1853. She was never caught and would spend the remainder of her life in New Hampshire Runaway advertisement requesting the return of Ona Judge. When Betty came to Mount Vernon with Martha, she brought her infant son, Austin. They believed they had treated her like a daughter and felt betrayed by her departure. Looking for a means to escape, Ona agreed to meet Whipple at the docks and return to Virginia. When Washington headed to New York City in 1789 for his inauguration as president, Oney was one of only a handful of enslaved people the couple took with them. In August 1799, Washington made one more attempt to find and recapture Ona Judge. Washington knew of Judge's whereabouts by September 1, when he wrote to Oliver Wolcott Jr., the Secretary of the Treasury, about having her captured and return… Ona probably lived with Betty in a small cabin near the mansion house, completing simple chores, helping her mother with easy tasks in their cabin, or playing unsupervised with other enslaved children.2 When Ona was twelve, Martha brought her into the mansion house to begin her official training as a housemaid. Ona worked as Martha’s enslaved housemaid for the next seven years before running away. She has written several books, including the award-winning middle grade novel Drizzle. The secret town of Rockton has seen some rocky times lately; understandable considering its mix of criminals and victims fleeing society for refuge within its Yukon borders. ONA, WV (WOWK) – If we’ve learned anything so far this holiday season, it is that the spirit of “community” runs deep in the tri-state. Sharing the news with her Instagram followers on … Tobias Lear Account Books, June 6, 1792; April 1, 1793; June 24, 1793. Ona also knew her siblings. (Credit: Leemage/Corbis via Getty Images). Governor John Langdon’s Home in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Benjamin Chase. To evade a gradual abolition law that took effect in Pennsylvania in 1780, the Washingtons made sure to transport their enslaved workers in and out of the state every six months to avoid them establishing legal residency. Shortly after George Washington‘s death, the London newspaper Bell’s Weekly Messenger praised the first U.S. president’s decision to free his slaves in his will. … Either way, she quickly discovered his purpose for traveling to Portsmouth. The judge ordered the registration of a case against Syed Ali Azhar, Arzoo's purported husband, as well as against cleric Qazi Abdul Rasool Naqshbandi, the justice of … First Lady Julia Dent Grant, wife... Born to an affluent family in 1790, John Tyler spent most of his life in Charles City County, Virginia. TOPICS: George Washington, Martha Washington, Mount Vernon, Slavery, Washington or Custis Family by Kathryn Gehred, Research Editor July 6, 2018. Vernon. "Interview with A Slave of George Washington." Work was scarce, and Ona’s son, William, is believed to have left home in the 1820s to become a sailor, like his father. © 2020 A&E Television Networks, LLC. She is also the author of Never Caught: The Washingtons' Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave Ona Judge. Ona’s father was an English indentured servant who had worked at Mount Vernon. Washington’s term ended on March 4, and he returned to Mount Vernon without her. So said former slave Ona Judge during an interview in 1845, long after she had obtained her freedom, and long after her owners, George and Martha Washington, had tried to get her back. ‘MasterChef Australia’ judge Melissa Leong has announced her separation from husband Joe Jones. Published in The Liberator in 1846. So, Ona Judge and six other enslaved people are taken to New York, where the nation’s first capital is. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! It was common practice for slave owners to give their enslaved workers nicknames that ended in”y” to subtly infantilize adult men and women. Oney had three children with Staines, all of whom predeceased her, as did her husband. One of the latest examples of this happened at St. Stephen’s Catholic Church in Ona, West Virginia. She may have thought she had found safe haven, but that summer she was recognized on the streets of Portsmouth by Elizabeth Langdon, the teenage daughter of Senator John Langdon and a friend of Nelly Custis. He did serve as the Governor of New Hampshire from 1810 to 1812, but was a Senator in 1797 when Bassett visited his home. Judge holds attorney husband of RHOBH star Erika Jayne and his law firm in contempt after he misappropriated $2M in funds meant for the families of victims of the 2018 Lion Air crash. Oney Judge, a light mulatto girl, much freckled, with very black eyes and bushy black hair, she is of middle stature, slender, and delicately, about 20 years of age. Though the gesture was far from meaningless, it didn’t go far enough. Whipple owed his position to the Washington administration, so he reluctantly agreed to help send Ona back to Mount Vernon. On May 21, 1796, she slipped out of the mansion while the president and first lady were eating their supper. Usually George Washington did not prefer white indentured servants. 1846 interview with Ona Judge Staines. Jack Staines was at sea at the time, but Ona managed to escape to the neighboring town of Greenland, where she and her infant daughter hid with a free black family, the Jacks, until Bassett left Portsmouth, empty-handed. Ona Judge was born as a slave into George and Martha Washington's household. Joseph Whipple to Oliver Wolcott, Jr., 4 October 1796, Dunbar. Kathleen Van Cleve teaches creative writing and film at the University of Pennsylvania. But Washington did not give up. Video courtesy of Making History Productions. HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate. She revealed that her life in Portsmouth had been difficult. Because of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 which Washington signed into law in Philadelphia (probably in his private office barely a dozen feet from where Oney slept), she lived the rest of her life as a fugitive. Paul Jennings. In 1773, Ona Judge … I knew the Washingtons had slaves but I just didn't know how sneaky they were to work around their 'human property'. Another, more insidious possibility also exists. Her mother, Betty, was recognized as the finest seamstress on the plantation and was a “dower slave,” technically still owned by the estate of Martha Washington’s first husband, Daniel Peake Custis. She also secured work as a domestic servant. Safe for the time being, she started building a life in Portsmouth, and married Jack Staines, a free black sailor, in early 1797. George Washington to Joseph Whipple, 28 November 1796. Taking the surrounding historical events and known details concerning the Washington's life, this book paints the picture of how Ona Judge's life might have been while growing up to the time of her escape and beyond. 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