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Source: WHYY Radio
Date: March 7, 2007
Byline: Marty Moss-Coane

Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane

Philadelphia's planned monument to George Washington's house which will include its slave quarters. We'll talk with MICHAEL COARD, founding member of Avenging The Ancestors Coalition, a community group that has pushed for recognition of the slaves and EMANUEL KELLY, Principal architect with Kelly/Maiello Inc. Architects & Planners, which was selected to design and build the project.



New York was the first capital of the United States under the Consitution. President George Washington lived there from April 1789 to August 1790 (in two rented houses, both long demolished). The national capital moved to Philadelphia in December 1790, and remained there for 10 years. President John Adams moved to the District of Columbia, and first occupied the White House in November 1800.

Pennsylvania enacted a Gradual Abolition Law in 1780, which prohibited non-residents from holding enslaved Africans in the state for longer than 6 months. Members of Congress were specifically exempted from this. A 1788 amendment to this law prohibited masters from rotating enslaved Africans out of Pennsylvania before the 6-month deadline to prevent the enslaved from qualifying for manumission. This was the section of the law that Washington repeatedly violated. In February 1791, an attempt was made in the Pennsylvania Assembly to exempt Washington, his Cabinet, and the Supreme Court from the state law, but the proposal was withdrawn after vigorous opposition from the Pennsylvania Abolitionist Society. For more information, see By the Numbers.

In addition to being the site of Thursday State Dinners, the State Dining Room was used as a reception room for the president's Tuesday audiences, or levees. It is also where he recieved visits from Congress, and probably met with foreign dignitaries, including Native American chiefs. The best scholarship is that Washington's (and later Adams's) Cabinet met with the president in his second-floor private office. This is likely where bills such as the 1793 Fugitive Slave Act were signed into law.


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