Book Club-Never Caught: The Washingtons' Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge
When George Washington was elected president, he left his beloved Mount Vernon to serve in Philadelphia, the nation's capital at the time, taking eight of his slaves with him, including Ona Judge. Pennsylvania law required enslaved people to be set free after six months of residency in the state. Rather than comply, Washington decided to circumvent the law. Every six months he sent his slaves back down south just as the clock was about to expire.
When the opportunity presented itself, Judge left everything she knew to escape to New England. Yet, freedom would not come without its costs. At just 22-years-old Ona became the subject of an intense manhunt led by George and Martha Washington, who, using political and personal contacts, aimed to recapture their property.
“With the help of Philadelphia’s free black community, she escaped to freedom and was able to reside in New Hampshire as a fugitive slave for the rest of her life. She notably gave post-freedom interviews to abolitionist newspapers in the mid-1800s, which is why we now know more about her than any of Washington’s Mount Vernon slaves."
- Adapted from Amazon.com and African American Diaspora, PhD blog