MMUF PhD Erica Armstrong Dunbar's new book featured in NYT article on George and Martha Washington's slaves

February 07, 2017

MMUF PhD Erica Armstrong Dunbar, who is Professor of Black Studies and History at the University of Delaware, is featured in a recent New York Times article on Ona Judge, a slave owned by George Washington's wife Martha who escaped to New Hampshire, where she evaded multiple attempts by the Washingtons to recapture her. While George Washington eventually freed his own slaves upon his death, Martha Washington made no such provision, and in the intervening years the Washingtons made clear, through their treatment of Judge and their other slaves, that despite George Washington's ostensible support of eventual abolition, they were unwilling to lead by personal example. Dr. Dunbar, who first encountered Judge's case while doing archival research as a graduate student at Columbia University and previously wrote about her in a 2015 New York Times opinion piece, has recently published the first full-length nonfiction book treatment of Judge, titled Never Caught: The Washingtons' Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge. The article notes that Dunbar's book is one of several recent indicators of a growing critical interest in Judge's story -- an interest also reflected in an extensive new exhibition at Mount Vernon, Washington's estate, about the lives of the Washingtons' slaves.