Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Slave Tunnel discovered at George Washington's Philly Home

by Steven Lane (writer), Simi valley, Ca and Austin, Tx., June 10, 2007



Caller: All dem purty gals will be dar,
Chorus: Shuck dat corn before you eat.

Caller: They will fix it for us rare,
Chorus: Shuck dat corn before you eat.

Caller: I know dat supper will be big,
Chorus: Shuck dat corn before you eat.

Caller: I think I smell a fine roast pig,
Chorus: Shuck dat corn before you eat.

Caller: I hope dey'll have some whisky dar,
Chorus: Shuck dat corn before you eat.

Caller: I think I'll fill my pockets full,
Chorus: Shuck dat corn before you eat.

A "call and response" slave song used at a "corn shuck." It was common practice for planters to offer their slaves whiskey and a big meal in exchange for this additional labor. Just one of those "perks" of slavery you don't hear about.

Archaeologists working a dig at George Washington's presidential home in Philadelphia have discovered a hidden tunnel. The original GW used it so that his guests wouldn't see the nine slaves the President "employed" there, as they slipped in and out of the main house. In the 1790's, when Philadelphia was our nations capital, Washington both lived and worked out of the home.

Found within pissing distance of the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, the tunnel has thrown the National Park Service for a loop. Until the unexpected "find", plans were to build an exhibit without any archaeological venue. The officials now are faced with a decision whether it's possible to incorporate the new findings into the planned exhibit or move forward with the original concept. The former "approved" concept would entail filling in the ruins and building an abstract display detailing life in the house.

Whatever decision is decided upon, there is one thing that is clear, a dramatic story lies in the wait. This tunnel clearly defines a time when freedom and slavery existed side by side. "As you enter the heaven of liberty, you literally have to cross the hell of slavery", said, Michael Coard, a Philadelphia attorney working to have slavery recognized at the site. "That's the contrast, that's the contradiction, that's the hypocrisy. But that's also the truth.", he continued.

Since the discovery, thousands of people have visited the site, peering down into the house's brick and stone foundation. "We actually found a lot more of the remains of the President's House than anyone expected. Myself included," said Jed Levin, an archaeologist with the National Park Service. In addition to the secret passageway, the remnants of an early "Oval Office" and a previously unknown large basement have been found.

The fact that George Washington was a slave owner is not a subject bandied about often. In reality, at the time of his death, in 1799 there were 316 slaves living on Washington's Mount Vernon Estate in the state of Virginia. Another fact, not commonly discussed, when speaking of "The Founding Father", refers directly to the nine slaves Washington kept at the Executive Mansion in Philadelphia. The laws of Pennsylvania freed any slaves who resided in the state after six months. Washington simply rotated those nine between his two homes rather than let them earn their freedom. This was a practice that he attempted to keep hidden and was actually against the law.

It should be noted, that in his last will and testament, Washington dictated that all of those slaves be emancipated AFTER his wife's death. Many of the slaves at Mount Vernon were owned by his wife Martha and he felt he could not "free" those who did not belong to him, personally.

As to slavery, Washington seems to have lived a life of parallel decisions. On one hand, he continuously showed total public inaction on the issue, while on the other hand, there was a personal motivation to solve the disposition of the Mount Vernon slaves.

A touchy subject at best, on one political side, one might hear the call for a strong denunciation of Washington's moral values and the hipocracy of fighting for American freedom while personally owning slaves. On the opposite political side, one might hear that this discussion is just another effort to bring down one of America's greatest heroes.

From "The Only Unavoidable Subject of Regret", By Peter Henriques..."It is an undeniable fact-and America's greatest tragedy-that as she proclaimed to the world that all men are created equal and entitled to liberty-she at the same time held 1/5 of her population in lifelong slavery."
Wikipedia: Washington and Slavery
"The Only Unavoidable Subject of Regret" by, Peter R. Henriques

About the Writer

Steven Lane is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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5 comments on Slave Tunnel discovered at George Washington's Philly Home

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By Charles Harmison on June 10, 2007 at 06:18 pm
I thought it was going to be part of the underground railroad or something noble. Guess when u consider the rest of American history that would be much too convenient. Excellent article
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By Jen on June 10, 2007 at 08:58 pm
As did I Charles! I think I recall reading at some point about Washington owning slaves and I dont remember being too surprised as slavery was technically legal in his day. I concur...another great article!
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By Charles Harmison on June 13, 2007 at 05:04 am
lol credit where it is due Steve.
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By Steven Blake on June 30, 2007 at 11:03 pm
I love learning little facts about history, space, and science! Great article!
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By navalaviator on July 04, 2007 at 04:53 pm
Prepare for the attack on our first President and an American Hero. A group of several archeologists working at the site of George Washington's Philadelpia home have announced the discovery of a "slave tunnel" and several of our courageous political leaders have pounced to support the significance without pausing to allow other professionals to confirm or even debate the claims. Where exactly was the sign located in the dig that designated the tunnel as the "Slave Tunnel"? Rhetorical. There was none of course. When you stand in a building: "What's the difference between a tunnel and a hallway?" Again; rhetorical of course. The Maytag repairman wasn't born for many decades after this discussing announcement worthy of an Eli Roth film. Sans refrigeration, produce and cured meats were kept in cool places like low tunnels to extend their usefulness. Why would slaves be kept below ground where air couldn't be re-circulated, thereby ensuring sickness rather than housing them in buildings outside? As a businessman, I prefer healthy employees. I save money on insurance and absenteeism. Surely an evil President could have hidden his horrified slaves in barracks inside an outdoor compound surrounded by sadistic guards. If you look at the detailed archeological diagrams on other sites they point to an approximately 6' x 9' kitchen that presumably would serve a Presidential dinner party! While at the same time they claim that the slaves were hidden away in an adjacent part of the terror chamber that happens to be more likely the size of a Presidential kitchen. Anyone with experience hosting even a small dinner party would see the incredible mockery this is. Step back and analyze who presented this information and then see what kind of support it has garnered. This proposition has been shoved down our throats with absolutely no other outside investigation and is glaringly obvious.
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