Slavery and George Washington by Carla Killough McClafferty

by  Authors on Call, iNK Think Tank

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George Washington inherited eleven human beings—when he was ten years old.  He owned and enslaved people all of his life.  What was life like for individuals who were enslaved by the man who became the first President of the United States?   This program will allow you to get to know six, specific enslaved individuals:  William Lee (Washington’s valet who was with him throughout the Revolutionary War); Christopher Sheels (who replaced Lee as Washington’s valet); Caroline Braham and Peter Hardiman (a married couple with several children); Oney Judge (Martha Washington’s personal maid who successfully ran away); and Hercules (Washington’s chef during the Presidential years who also escaped).  

As we learn about them, I explain the complex story of ownership at Mount Vernon.  Some of the enslaved were owned by George Washington (who freed them in his will), and some were owned by Martha Washington’s estate (and could not be freed).  

The program bridges the span between the past and the present by explaining the current work being done in the Slave Cemetery at Mount Vernon.  An archaeological dig is underway to locate (but not disturb) the locations of unmarked graves.   

This presentation is based on the research done by Carla Killough McClafferty, an award winning nonfiction author for her upcoming book titled Buried Lives: The Enslaved People of George Washington’s Mount Vernon.  

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About This Program


Point to Point: $300.00
Point to Point Premium: $270.00
By Request: $300.00
By Request Premium: $270.00

The price is per site. iNK Think Tank will invoice and collect the fee.


1 hour

Target Audience

Education: Grade(s) 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, Parent, Adult Learners general audience Public Library: Library Patrons, Library Staff

Minimum participants:

no minimum

Maximum participants:


Primary Disciplines

Character Education, Gifted & Talented, Language Arts/English, Literacy, Reading, Social Studies/History, Writing

Program Delivery Mode

Videoconference - H.323 (Polycom, Cisco/Tandberg, LifeSize, etc...)
Videoconference – Webcam/desktop (Zoom, Google Meet, Cisco WebEx, GoToMeeting, Microsoft Teams, Blue Jeans, etc...)

Booking Information

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Receive this program and 9 more for one low price when you purchase the CILC Virtual Expeditions package. Learn more

For more information contact CILC at (507) 388-3672

Provider's Cancellation Policy

We make every effort to rebook. However, a last minute cancellation, with less than a two-day notice will incur a $100.00 kill fee.

About This Provider

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Authors on Call, iNK Think Tank

White Plains, NY
United States

The Common Core State Standards have focused attention on process and using nonfiction in the classroom. Our Authors on Call from iNK Think Tank embody the CCSS. This team uses their extraordinary breadth of knowledge to transform today's classrooms into vital centers of learning. These authors are experts in processing enormous amounts of information, sifting through it and synthesizing it into works with added value. So why not talk to these masters of 21st century skillsand let them unpack their process for your students? They are eager to share their knowledge with you and to help you inspire your students with books kids love to read about subjects you're required to teach. So far our authors include Jan Adkins, Vicki Cobb,  Roxie Munro, Dorothy Hinshaw Patent,Carla Killough McClafferty, Kerrie Hollihan, Aline Alexander Newman, David M. Schwartz, Alexandra Siy,  Peggy Thomas, Marissa Moss, Jan Adkins, and Andrea Warren. Keep coming back as we add more authors and new programs.

Vicki Cobb

Program Details


1. Discuss the historical context of slavery during the life of George Washington.
2. Introduce six, real life enslaved people and discuss the true events of their lives.
3. View a wide variety of images that support the topic.
4. Discuss the complexity of ownership at Mount Vernon to understand that George Washington owned some of the 317 enslaved people (freed through his will) and Martha Washington owned some of the enslaved (who could not be freed).
5. Discuss the archeological dig and see images of the current project taking place at Mount Vernon to locate unmarked graves in the Slave Cemetery.


1. The participant will have a better understanding of what life was like for enslaved people in the 18th century.
2. The participant will connect emotionally with the true-life events of six specific enslaved people.
3. The participant will achieve a better understanding surrounding the complexity of history.
4. The participant will learn how and why Mount Vernon is conducting an archaeological survey of the cemetery where many enslaved were buried in unmarked graves.

Standards Alignment

National Standards

Civics/ What Is Government?; Values and Principles of Democracy; Other Nations and World Affairs;Economics/ Gain from Trade; Cost of Government; U.S. History/The History of the United States: Democratic Principles and Values and the People from Many Cultures Who Contributed to Its Cultural, Economic, and Political Heritage;U.S. History/The History of Peoples of Many Cultures Around the World; U.S. History 5-12/ Era 3: Revolution and the New Nation (1754-1820); World History/ Expanding Zones of Exchange and Encounter;Global Expansion and Encounter, 1450-1770