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Slavery, Freedom, and the White House

Many people think of the White House as a symbol of democracy, but it is also a part of America’s history of slavery. When construction of the White House began in 1792, enslaved people provided most of the labor. Enslaved people have also worked and lived in the White House under multiple presidents. Even after slavery was abolished in Washington, D.C. in 1862, formerly enslaved people continued to have impacts on the White House through meetings with presidents and writing about their own experiences there. The stories of these individuals, working under the oppressive institution of slavery in the “People’s House,” demonstrate the sharp contrast between slavery and the freedom that the White House has long represented.