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President's House: Your Thoughts Archive: 2009

Why is this project taking so long? How much is it costing, and who is looking out for the taxpayers? Why can't the public get answers? And who is smearing George Washington? This is worse than a boondoggle, it's a national disgrace.
Jamie Stephens, Langhorne, PA [12-25-2009]

hi am miguel descendent of afro american who in the earlie day usto live in philadelphia, i wanna know more about the forchue, king, wrigth family who left america in the earlie year and go to dominica republic, who most of them are in samana
miguel george, antigua & barbuda [12-12-2009]

"George Washington was a Slave Master" is going to be the central message of the President's House memorial? Millions of taxpayer dollars spent to demonize the Father of our Country? They should throw out everything right now and start over. Slavery can be part of the story, but not the whole thing. This has the potential to be a major tourist attraction for the city, but it will be a WORLD CLASS FAILURE if it's all about racial hatred.
Laura Salvatrice, South Philadelphia [11-25-2009]

Someone please tell me on a tour of the White House in Washington DC, how often do they bring up the slaves that worked there and where is the memorial to the slaves that built the White House. If we are going to add slavery to The Presidents' house, then we should re-evaluate how tours of the White House and other historical areas of Washington DC are presented. Where is the accent on slavery there. Balance it out, all we were showing is where the first Presidents' house stood, not where he signed papers, not where he ate just where the first house stood. We can have a memorial on the grounds to remember the slaves but we really just want to know where the original buildings stood in the first Capital and where the historic documents were signed and of course the Liberty Bell. Remember slavery came from Europe, go there and raise hell that they brought the first slaves here. It was the Europeans not the Pilgrims. The British and their slaves that is where it started in EUROPE AND AFRICA, THEY SOLD THEIR OWN PEOPLE JUST LIKE NOW.
Angry Resident, Philadelphia [11-23-2009]

I never thought I would see such information on the internet. This is breath taking. I would love to learn more and see more photos. I didn't do so well in school. I was young and neglected. I now take a new part of my life and use it with the best of my knowledge. I married a coal miner. He was a hard working man and still is. I had two beautiful children and they graduated with honors. I will tell them about the site and I'm sure they will tell others. This has been a learning experience for me.I'm a little rusty but I still like what we have overcome. The united States is once again praised for the knowledge and background we have. I would rather you not print my name. I do hope you will correct my misgivings. I wasn't good in school. Thank you....
D.L., Buckhannon WV [10-22-2009]

I think that this is critical information that had been omitted from the history books. The bios of the 9 enslaved Africans that lived in the presiden't s house are priceless. Can you tell me where I can see or get the still photos of the painting Hercules, the Washingtons, and Martha's kids in their Phildephia home? I still wonder if Washington would have freed his slaves if he had kids of his own with Martha?
valerie francis, Brooklyn, NY [10-19-2009]

The Gilbert Stuart portrait believed to be Hercules is at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid, Spain. Edward Savage's group portrait of The Washington Family is at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. Postcard-sized reproductions are sold in both museums' giftshops. Through his will, Washington freed the 124 enslaved Africans that he owned outright, and set aside funds to educate the children and provide pensions to the elderly. The value of these enslaved Africans represented about 1/6 of his total wealth. The 153 "dower" slaves at Mount Vernon were owned by the estate of Daniel Custis (Martha's first husband). Since Martha had use of the "dowers" during her lifetime, Washington had hoped to rent them out as workers to other plantations, with the proceeds going toward their purchase from the Custis estate, and eventual freedom. For unknown reasons, this scheme was never implemented. Instead, the 153 "dowers" were divided up among Martha's 4 grandchildren following her 1802 death. Following decades of maintaining that Washington had no legal control over the "dowers" (true), Mount Vernon, in its new museum, states that Washington had enough wealth to buy and free the "dowers" alongside his own enslaved Africans, but ultimately chose not to do so.

How does what you do help stop racism?
vincint thomas, washington dc [10-15-2009]

how old were the president when he first moved in the house.
Angelica, leesburgga 31763 [10-11-2009]

what did the president give the slaves for their work? and why did they invest big cash money over the slaves?,and what was so hard for the president to do things on his own instead of having some one else doing it for him and being selfish..........thats kinda harsh for us black americans to think about today,knowing we could of went through the same thing the others went through.
Yiesha, LeesBurg GA 31763 [10-07-2009]

Where are the things that were found on the site taken to and can the public see them.I stood on the platform and watched for hours I find it amazing what lays under the city of Philly.Where can the items be seen?
Denise, Ewing NJ [09-18-2009]

They can be found at the Living History Center

your site is awsome
robbie henson, boyce virginia [09-11-2009]

Is the site available for tours?
Mark Landis [09-11-2009]

well am into history and i am wanting to learn about are presadents
kasiehaislep, parkursburg westvirgina [09-07-2009]

I read the article in today's Inquirer. One of the real problems with this project is that it is being managed by Rosalyn McPherson. She has no experience with design, construction, historic preservation, or cultural resources/anthropology. She is a PR person, which is a bit ironic. But do you really trust her to oversee the construction of this structure on such sensitive site?
anonymous [08-21-2009]

hi my name is zina Lorratte zinnah, iam 16 year old are from west Africa Liberia
zina zinnah, indianapolis IN [08-18-2009]

Long before IHA became involved with this project, I suggested to the Park that they mark this house with a simple plaza and lay down stones, that would be flush with the surface, to form the outline of the structure. This elegant solution was dismissed as being "confusing", even though it is a technique used elsewhere in the same park. Years later, and after much noise, they are about to make a politically charged, difficult to maintain, and very expensive mess of the site. Too bad.
Rob Morris, pa [08-17-2009]

Who were the indentured servants? Why isn't their story told?
Kevin, Bear, Delaware [07-06-2009]

[In reference to Schools Shouldn't Forget About Our Heroic Presidents]: You worry so much about Presidents Lincoln and Washington's good name because of patriotism and I respect that, but this is a time when you must see the global picture. These presidents are being judge as men, not as idealized canonic figures. I am an A Jamaican woman and am quite aware of the history of my ancestors. I'm also aware of the burnt bodies swinging from poplar trees and the blood that washes the diamonds of today. I know that reparation and taking responsibility for the immorality of these presidents would do far more healing than a fight to idealize them. They were weak men. They were weak to vanity, fame and glory. The writer of the article should tell his child the truth and be disgusted by the immorality of these presidents. It pains me to see how little you get about what life is really worth. When I read your article tears trickled down my cheek. Patriotism is good, that is why great leaders should employ good morals so history can show them as great. History will be the judge of who are the Great ones are, not sympathetics with narrow minds. I am very grateful to President Lincoln and President Washington for what came out of their decisions, but understand this, a man is only great when he shows utter respect for human lives.
Donna Farquharson, Boston, MA [06-04-2009]

The enslaved Africans are important and must be included, but the primary focus of this historic site should be George Washington, John Adams, and their presidencies.
Debbie Kohn, Arlington, VA [05-14-2009]

hello your website rocks bye
Maddi, Duncannon,PA 17020 [04-15-2009]

I was just wondering if you knew the name of the last slave in Pennsylvania. We were talking about this in our american history class and i was just curious. Thanks!
Kayla, Chambersburg, PA [03-22-2009]

Webmaster's note: In 1780, Pennsylvania's government became the first in the Western Hemisphere to begin an abolition of slavery, but the process was very, very gradual. Pennsylvania slaveholders could not bring any new slaves into the state (although they could trade among themselves), and every future child of an enslaved mother was born free. But all those enslaved in Pennsylvania at the time the new law went into effect remained enslaved for life. Slaveholders were required to register their slaves with the state each year, and failure to do this (or to do it properly) resulted in the slaves being freed. There was also a lot of social pressure applied to free slaves, especially by the Quakers. The 1790 U.S. Census lists 3737 slaves in the state, but by the 1840 U.S. Census the number was down to about 100. (All of these were people born before the 1780 law.) In 1847, the Pennsylvania legislature resolved that it would no longer co-operate with the 1793 Fugitive Slave Act, a federal law that allowed slavecatchers into every state and territory, and required local governments to assist in the recapture of runaways. Essentially, Pennsylvania refused to recognize the property rights of slaveholders from inside or outside the state. Because not all the individual county records survive, we don't know exactly how many enslaved Pennsylvanians were freed, but it was less than 100, and the youngest of them would have been age 67.

Inga Saffron, architecture critic of The Philadelphia Inquirer, has called the Kelly-Maiello design for the President's House site "a heavy-handed mess that will simply add to more clutter of the mall." (Skyline Online, July 25, 2007). Phillip Kennicott, architecture critic of The Washington Post, states: "The success of the [archeological] dig may help build momentum to reconsider the design of the memorial." (The Washington Post, July 4, 2007). Dr. Frank Matero, chair of Penn's Historic Preservation Department and formerly a consultant on the project, finds the design "dead": "There's a failure to engage the physical remains in a way that's moving... the design relies way too much on multi-media. Design is not predominantly about words and images." (Plan Philly, February 23, 2009). The President's House commemoration is being built with $10.6 million in public money: $3.6 million in federal funds, $3.5 million in City funds, and $3.5 million in DRPA funds (a whole other argument). As taxpayers (and bridge-tollpayers), shouldn't we be able to expect excellence from this project? -- a design that is worthy of the national importance of the site?
Carl G. Olsen, Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia [03-18-2009]

NOTE: Robert Morris is one of 4 Founding Fathers honored by a statue in Independence National Historical Park (the others are George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and John Barry). INHP has committed to expanding its interpretation of Morris.
anonymous [03-11-2009]

I think it is an outrage that this cite is not dedicated to the founding fathers and instead to nine slaves. Robert Morris was instrumental to the founding of our nation and is underepresented in our history. This would have been a great tribute cite to him, the financier of the revolution. Considering he owned most of what we consider Center City Philadelphia, it is odd that nine random slaves will have a memorial but not him.
Matthew Damone, Philadelphia, PA [03-09-2009]

Our 3rd grade class was wondering what was the color of the original White House and was it just called the Presidential Mansion. Thank you!
Susan Grotte, Sugar Land Texas [02-27-2009]

Thanks for your serious efforts in these tough times, but the proposed monument is empty + impersonnal. If the original plans were available I would of just rebuilt the house,etc. + honored the Presidents,slaves,etc. who lived there.
Michael Delatour Schelter, Phoenix, AZ [02-12-2009]

I think that this is a great web site!
aliya, Fort Wayne Indiana [02-06-2009]

Thank you for a very informative website. I first found this site through the liberty bell website and was intrigued by it. I always thought that the capital was Washington DC. It is a pitty that the house was demolished.
Michelle, Ballarat Victoria Australia [02-01-2009]

When are they going to break ground on this project?
anonymous, Phil, PA [01-15-2009]

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