Course Details

HIST 223: The Presidents and their Slaves

This course analyzes slavery, often referred to as the peculiar institution, through its most peculiar lens: the involvement in chattel slavery by the founding fathers and the federal government. We will explore the troubled history of our nation’s founding fathers who, on the one hand, promoted democracy and liberty, and who, on the other hand, owned slaves. We will study the lives of Sally Hemings, Paul Jennings, Ona Judge and other slaves owned by Presidents and will probe how the White House emerged as a quasi-plantation built on the labor of enslaved people. Further, we will examine the federal government’s legacy in perpetuating and protecting slavery, scrutinizing the Constitution, Fugitive Slave Act and other legislative actions that safeguarded the institution.
6 credits; HI, WR2, IDS; Not offered 2021-2022