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Robert McNamara

Slaves Who Built the White House

By December 10, 2008

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It has long been known that slaves were part of the labor force that built the White House and the US Capitol. And today the US National Archives exhibited government pay records from more than 200 years ago that portray some of that often overlooked history.

The slaves working on the building were bricklayers and carpenters. And though their names (and only their first names) appear in the pay records, the money they earned went to their owners. Even the architect of the White House, James Hoban, owned three slaves who were working on the project, and Hoban was paid for their labor.

The CBS Evening News aired a segment on the slaves who worked on the White House, and Jesse Holland, a writer for the Associated Press who has written extensively about the slaves who helped build the city of Washington, has also written about the new revelations.

Image: National Archives senior archivist and African-American records specialist Reginald Washington displays a payroll for laborers at the President's House from December 1794. Photograph by Alex Wong/Getty Images

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January 12, 2009 at 2:59 am
(1) Mr. William M. Alexander, Sr. says:

Out of all of the Black and White people that has passed away, who fought and for Justice from 1792 to the present have a big smile on their faces in their graves. Even the ones that said it would never be a Black President of the United States. God Bless them, and all that are alive today to witness this event. It is a wonderful thing to still be here in the Land of the Living.

January 27, 2009 at 10:57 am
(2) Godchild says:

You guys out there in Cyberspace are in for a big surprise when the truth about our past presidents surface. Oh, how we have really missed the mark in the history of this country. According to J.A. Rogers’ research, we have had “five-colored-presidents…” and President Obama is now our sixth. Of course, he cannot pass for white, his blackness is all too obvious – regardless his genetic disposition. The others (presidents), slid by the racial detection-booth, that’s all. Find the info for yourself – it’s out there.

February 4, 2009 at 2:08 pm
(3) James says:

Godchild, I’m sure you spent a lot of time in the archives and genetic labs figuring that one out. Not.

July 6, 2011 at 5:07 pm
(4) junie says:

Blacks built america and still not consider part of it

March 25, 2012 at 2:35 am
(5) Adeleke says:

Whether black or white american,never dispute the fact that strategic and intellectual one should rule.

April 29, 2012 at 11:29 pm
(6) monet says:

you guys need to stop beeing mean we did what we could

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