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. 248-50.. Ona Judge was a slave of the Washington’s who escaped to freedom while George was President of the United States. 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. 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. How many weddings have been held at the White House? She walked out of the house and quickly rushed to safety. In 1845, Ona Judge was interviewed by an abolitionist newspaper. Vernon as a slave, when Martha accepted the hand of George Washington to marry him as her second husband in 1759. It tells about a very determined Ona Judge and very sneaky Washingtons. 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. When Martha brought Ona to the President’s House, Ona left her family for the first time. Washington, his family, and his enslaved workers lived in two different homes in New York City until the summer of 1790. With a free black population of some 360 citizens and virtually no enslaved workers, Portsmouth was different from any place Judge had ever known. 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. “Runaway Advertisement,” Frederick Kitt, Philadelphia, 24 May 1796. Ona was often called Oney by the Washingtons, but later in life introduced herself as Ona, so we have followed her preference. 248-50.. 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. At age 10, she began serving as a personal maid to Martha Washington at the Virginia mansio… Ona’s father was an English indentured servant who had worked at Mount Vernon. In her interviews fifty years later, Ona referred to John Langdon as Governor. 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. Published in The Liberator in 1846. 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. 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. Ona Judge (c.1773—February 25, 1848), known as Ona Judge Staines after marriage, was a light-skinned, heavily freckled and slight of build slave on George Washington’s plantation, Mount Vernon, in Virginia.. Which administration holds the record for the number of Christmas trees displayed at the White House? 1846 interview with Ona Judge Staines. 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. 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. Her father, Andrew Judge, was an English indentured tailor who served as a tailor. Product details. Stunned by Ona’s lack of cooperation, he returned to Langdon’s house to regroup. 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. MasterChef judge Melissa Leong has announced her separation from husband Joe Jones, after almost four years of marriage. There are seven enslaved people that go, only two women, and Ona’s one of them. 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 … By then, Ona had an infant, and her husband [s2If !is_user_logged_in()] As children born to enslaved women were considered property of the slaveholder, according to Virginia law, his daughter remained in bondage. So, Ona Judge and six other enslaved people are taken to New York, where the nation’s first capital is. Kathleen Van Cleve teaches creative writing and film at the University of Pennsylvania. Yet, he remained in the area until at least 1784, when Washington loaned him £12. 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 … While Ona lived in Virginia, she was surrounded by several family members. 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. For example, Christopher Sheels, Washington’s enslaved manservant received shoes once per year. The couple went on to have three children: Eliza, Will, and Nancy. Ona learned of the inquiry and met with Whipple to discuss the position. Husband … Whenever possible, this article uses Ona’s words to tell her remarkable story. 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. Over a month after the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills cast member filed for divorce from the famed attorney, a […] 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. 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. Ona probably attended this church to hear Reverend Samuel Haven's sermons. 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. The History and Traditions of a Classic Dessert, Lindsay M. Chervinsky 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. 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. The advertisement was posted by Frederick Kitt in the Philadelphia Gazette on May 23, 1796. 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. Ona married John Staines, a seaman, on Jan. 14, 1797, and settled in Portsmouth. Reuters. 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. Ona also knew her siblings. 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. Joseph Whipple to Oliver Wolcott, Jr., 4 October 1796, Dunbar. The Massive, Overlooked Role of Female Slave Owners. 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. In September 1798, he sent his nephew, Burwell Bassett, to bring Ona Judge Staines back. Her mother, Betty, was an enslaved seamstress; her father, Andrew Judge, was an English tailor working as an indentured servant at Mount Vernon. (Baton Rouge and London: Louisiana State University Press, 1977), pp. 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. Her two daughters, Eliza and Nancy, were sadly forced into indentured servitude; both died before their mother. 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! 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. Ona Judge was born around 1773. At some point during the spring of 1796, Ona made contact with members of the free black community that would facilitate her escape. The gunman arrived at the home of Judge Esther Salas in North Brunswick, New Jersey, around 5 p.m., NBC New York reported. (Credit: Leemage/Corbis via Getty Images). This book is the story of her to run . 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. 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. Ona Judge was afforded more comforts than most slaves, however, she risked it all to escape the nation’s capital and reach freedom. Watcher in the Woods is the next gripping installment of #1 bestselling Kelley Armstrong's riveting Casey Duncan series.. At sixteen, Ona may have been growing still and she may have outgrown her earlier shoes. Vernon as a slave, when Martha accepted the hand of George Washington to marry him as her second husband in 1759. Her mother, Betty Davis, served a seamstress for the Washingtons at their Mount Vernon plantation. 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.. Paul Jennings. Ona Judge Staines died in Greenland, New Hampshire on February 25, 1848. 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. Though marriage gave her some additional legal protection, Ona remained vigilant–with good reason. And Ona really becomes, and had already really become, Martha Washington’s top … 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. 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. Video courtesy of Making History Productions. Staines was a sailor and although the pay was decent, it was sporadic and seasonal. Ona Judge, a young enslaved woman in her 20s, has recently received some terrifying news. Either way, she quickly discovered his purpose for traveling to Portsmouth. Betty, Ona Judge’s mother, came to Mt. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and sons. George Washington to Joseph Whipple, 28 November 1796. Betty was lucky to be able to keep her son Austin with her with the move to Mt. 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. In 1789, the new federal government was located in New York City. What are some interesting facts about presidents and first ladies? 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. So, when the opportunity presented itself, Judge left everything she knew to escape to New England. Betty was lucky to be able to keep her son Austin with her with the move to Mt. (Baton Rouge and London: Louisiana State University Press, 1977), pp. So, as the household prepared for the Washingtons’ return to Mount Vernon for the summer, Judge made plans for her escape. So Ona Judge passed the disease of slavery through her lineage to her children, making Ona and her children the property of Martha Washington. But Washington did not give up. Several years before her death in 1848, she granted two interviews to abolitionist newspapers recounting her journey from bondage. HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate. When Betty came to Mount Vernon with Martha, she brought her infant son, Austin. It was common practice for slave owners to give their enslaved workers nicknames that ended in”y” to subtly infantilize adult men and women. 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. 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 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. Ona also accompanied Martha on her social visits and attended to the first lady’s needs at home. This article would not be possible without her scholarship. October 21, 2019, Next 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. 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. 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.”. 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. Instead, she … Andrew Judge’s indentured servitude ended in 1776, but he worked for Washington until 1781. Ona Judge was born as a slave into George and Martha Washington's household. 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.”. There are seven enslaved people that go, only two women, and Ona’s one of them. 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. “A Slave of George Washington,” Benjamin Chase, Auburn, NH, December 1846. 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. Learn more about Ona Judge’s path to freedom. Whipple owed his position to the Washington administration, so he reluctantly agreed to help send Ona back to Mount Vernon. Never Caught: The Washingtons' Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge - Ebook written by Erica Armstrong Dunbar. She was never caught and would spend the remainder of her life in New Hampshire But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! 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. Ona Judge would look over her shoulder for the rest of her life. 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. It must have been incredibly scary for sixteen-year-old Ona to travel to New York City, a place she had never visited before. Salas was reportedly in the basement at the time of the shooting and was not injured. 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 lives in Philadelphia with her husband and sons. 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. That encounter with Oney (who also went by Ona) was more than 20 years ago. Many decades later, when all of her family members had died, Ona gave two interviews about her life and escape to freedom. ED: [00:21:26] She opens the door and she sees a face that probably drained the blood from hers. … Ona died on February 25, 1848, in Greenland, New Hampshire as a free woman.32. Later, Ona Judge claimed that after Washington’s death, the family never bothered her again. She revealed that her life in Portsmouth had been difficult. 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. Ona Judge, a young enslaved woman in her 20s, has recently received some terrifying news. 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. In April 1774, one of Martha Washington’s enslaved housemaids, Betty, gave birth at Mount Vernon to a daughter named Ona Judge. 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. 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. 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. In 1773, Ona Judge … 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. In the afternoon of Saturday, May 21, 1796, Ona slipped out of the house while the Washingtons enjoyed their dinner. Burwell Bassett. 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. She continued in this role until 1789, when she traveled with Martha to the President’s House in New York City. Work was scarce, and Ona’s son, William, is believed to have left home in the 1820s to become a sailor, like his father. 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. Though the gesture was far from meaningless, it didn’t go far enough. by the Rev. 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. After she became too old for physical labor, Ona herself lived in poverty, relying on donations from the community. On October 4, 1796, Whipple wrote to Wolcott that he had failed to secure Ona. 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. 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. 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. 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. He did serve as the Governor of New Hampshire from 1810 to 1812, but was a Senator in 1797 when Bassett visited his home. She also secured work as a domestic servant. 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. Ona Maria Judge was born around 1774 at Mount Vernon. 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. She has written several books, including the award-winning middle grade novel Drizzle. 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. She revealed that her life in Portsmouth had been difficult. Late the following year, when the federal capital moved to Philadelphia, the presidential household moved with it. Ona Judge had come to the Washington's massive collection of over three hundred slaves when she was an infant. Ona Judge was the daughter of Andrew Judge who was from England. Safe for the time being, she started building a life in Portsmouth, and married Jack Staines, a free black sailor, in early 1797. The exhibition will furthermore profile 18 other former slaves. Finally, Ona may have worried about Law’s questionable reputation. Beginning in 1789, she worked as a personal servant to First Lady Martha Washington in the presidential households in New York City and Philadelphia. They believed they had treated her like a daughter and felt betrayed by her departure. Ona Judge Staines lived with her husband and their three children until Jack’s death in 1803. 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. In the end, Washington and his fellow founders would push the hard decisions about slavery off onto future generations of Americans–with explosive consequences. Vernon. 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. Vernon. Ona worked as Martha’s enslaved housemaid for the next seven years before running away. 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. Betsy Langdon recognized Oney, having encountered her before when calling on Martha Washington, a family friend, or her granddaughter Nelly Custis. This article was originally published 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. 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. Tobias Lear Account Books, June 6, 1792; April 1, 1793; June 24, 1793. 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… 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. All Rights Reserved. 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. 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. 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. , this article uses Ona ’ s indentured servitude ; both died their... Lived in two different homes in New York City until the summer 1790... Some 6,000 people, Philadelphia had become the nation ’ s indentured servitude ; both died before their mother the! Example, Christopher Sheels, Washington ’ s first capital is social visits attended! 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