Master George's People: George Washington, His Slaves, and His Revolutionary Transformation

62p. bibliog. chron. further reading. index. notes. photos. reprods. websites. National Geographic. 2013. Tr $18.95. ISBN 978-1-4263-0759-1; PLB $27.90. ISBN 978-1-4263-0760-7. LC 2012024295.
Gr 5–9—Students are often surprised that many of the Founding Fathers, including Washington, were slave owners. These men sought personal freedoms in writing the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution but acted in a seemingly hypocritical way in their own lives. Delano does an excellent job of presenting context for the prevailing attitudes and economic realities of the 18th century. Using primary sources, including Washington's letters and his will, she details how his attitudes toward slavery evolved over his years as a young landowner, military leader, and president. Vignettes about enslaved individuals are interspersed with information about Washington. The combined history puts the focus on all of the people involved rather than just the famous names. The book reflects extensive research, with a detailed bibliography and directly sourced quotations. Washington is known for freeing his slaves upon his death, but Delano demonstrates the complexity of the situation and what it meant for Mrs. Washington and other slaves on the property owned by her children. The book is slim but dense, and while the subject is fascinating, it requires some maturity from readers. Photographs of costumed interpreters provide visual immediacy and freshness. Period paintings that include enslaved personal servants demonstrate their importance in the household. An endnote by an African American educator underscores the need for young people to understand the legacy of slavery and what it continues to mean for our country today.—Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VA

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