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Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
Date: March 20, 2007
Byline: Tom Perri

Letter: Tell the slave story

Did Robert M. Morris, descendent of Revolutionary War financier Robert Morris, try to imply ("Two views on President's House," Commentary, March 13) that the slaves owned by George Washington who lived with him in the Morris Mansion should have been thankful because they lived in the "best house in town"?

By that logic, slaves should have also been thankful for the free boat rides they received to this continent.

Morris is indignant because a memorial on the site of the old Morris Mansion, known as President's House, will not tell of his famous financier ancestor but will acknowledge that Washington kept slaves there. Morris complained of "cherry-picked" facts as he harrumphed about "Americans' ignorance of history."

Well, here are a few historical facts Morris left out: Robert Morris had financed slave trading. Thomas Paine accused him of profiteering during the Revolutionary War, though he was acquitted. Why mention this? Why did Morris mention the legally questionable pre-election FBI bugging of Mayor Street's office? Perhaps it was guilt by association, which is why the story of Washington and his slaves must be told in its entirety.


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