Slavery and George Washington by Carla Killough McClafferty

by  Author Carla Killough McClafferty

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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, etc...)

Booking Information

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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.

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Author Carla Killough McClafferty

Benton, AR
United States

Carla Killough McClafferty is a popular presenter for interactive video conferences, and is an award-winning author of nonfiction books for young readers. She began providing interactive video conferences in 2011, and has worked with classrooms of students all over the United States and in countries around the world. McClafferty offers a wide variety of topics for video conferences. Some of her programs are based on books she has authored and others are programs that teach research / writing skills. She can customize a program that fits the needs of your audience. 

In addition to online videoconferencing, she has provided many in person presentations for wide variety of local, national, and international venues. She has been a featured speaker at teacher workshops and conferences including ALA, AASL, NCTE, and IRA. She has been a keynote speaker for a variety of organizations including CSpan 2 Book TV, Mount Vernon’s Ford Book Talk Series, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, the U.S. Consulate in Marseille, France, and many more.

Books by Carla Killough McClafferty include:

Spies in the American Revolution

Buried Lives: The Enslaved People of George Washington’s Mount Vernon

A Short Biography of George Washington

Fourth Down and Inches: Concussions and Football’s Make-or-Break Moment

Tech Titans

The Many Faces of George Washington: Remaking a Presidential Icon

In Defiance of Hitler: The Secret Mission of Varian Fry

Something Out of Nothing:  Marie Curie and Radium 

The Head Bone’s Connected to the Neck Bone:  The Weird, Wacky and Wonderful X-ray


Her books have been recognized for excellence by the Junior Library Guild, Outstanding Science Trade Books for Children by the CBC, New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age List, IRA Children’s Book Award Winner, a NCTE Orbis Pictus Honor Book, ALA Best Books for Young Adult List, ALA Amelia Bloomer Project List, NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book, National Council of Social Studies/Children’s Book Council Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People, Booklist Top Ten Sci-Tech books, NCTE Orbis Pictus recommended book, an International 2008 Society of School Librarians International Book Award Honor Book, Cooperative Children's Book Council (CCBC) Choices 2009 list, Arkansas’s 2008-2009 Charlie May Simon Reading List, American Library Association Notables Nominee, School Library Journal Best Books of 2011, Moonbeam Children's Book Award silver medal winner, Society of School Librarians Honor Book, BCCB Guide Book to Gift Books, and BCCB 2011 Blue Ribbon List. Her books have received starred reviews in School Library JournalBooklist and Jewish Book World, and The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books.  

Carla McClafferty

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