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How One Of George Washington's Slaves Escaped To New England11:30

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"Never Caught: The Washingtons' Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge" by Erica Armstrong Dunbar. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)closemore
"Never Caught: The Washingtons' Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge" by Erica Armstrong Dunbar. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

In 1796, President George Washington and first lady Martha Washington lived in the nation's capital, then Philadelphia. Washington's presidency was set to end the next year, so the first family made plans to return to their Mount Vernon estate.

The Washingtons owned slaves and they planned to return to Virginia with the slaves they held at the president's mansion. But 22-year-old Ona Judge didn't want to return to Virginia ... she wanted to live free.

In May 1796, Judge escaped the Washington family and never went back. Eventually, she found her way to New England and made a place for herself in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

In the waning days of his presidency, Washington used the force of the federal government trying to capture Judge. But he failed. A new book captures the search and evasion of Ona Judge.

Erica Armstrong Dunbar will discuss her book on Monday, March 6 at the Harvard Bookstore. 

Guest

Erica Armstrong Dunbar, professor of black studies and history at the University of Delaware. Her latest book is "Never Caught: The Washingtons' Relentless Pursuit Of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge." Dunbar tweets @ericaadunbar.

This segment aired on March 6, 2017.

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