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tv   [untitled]    April 7, 2012 9:00am-9:30am EDT

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carry that brand-new thing around? we're preserving it for the future. we take care of everything from the start this way. the start this way. >> find out where c-span's local captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2008 we'll hear from alexandra lane, rights and reproductions coordinator for the white house historical association about the gats by family and slave trading in d.c. we'll also hear from elizabeth dowelling taylor, author of "a slave in the white house." this hour-long event took place at st. john's church on the edge of president's park.
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thank you. we have just learned about -- thank you. we've just learned about an important space in the history of decatur house in the nation's capital in our last presentation. now we'll hear about one of the many owners of the house, john gads by along with his business interest in washington and how he associated with the slave trade. as gath rin mentioned this morning, we do know the names of those enslaved men, women and children living in the decatur house quarters. when the quarters played a role in the slave trade remains illusive. the early results show an enterprise that predates gads by's residency on the square. it raises questions that seek
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resolution as her work goes forward in the future. alexandra came to the white house historical association by way of a national trust internship that she served while concluding the graduate program in public history at american university. now on our staff, she has an opportunity to continue this exciting research. please welcome alexandra lane. [ applause ] good morning and thank you, john, for that wonderful introduction. i'd like to thank the white house historical association forgiving me the opportunity to present my research here to you today. thank you, everyone, for coming out. john gats by is a controversial figure in decatur house's long history. the main questions that arise are whether he was a slave
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trader or involved in the trade. while it is unlikely he sold people out of decatur house, his hotel business was deeply intertwined with human trafficking. he and his son, william gatsb s gatsby's -- historian a.k. sond vol strauss tells us whatever hotel size, class and drawing power, it played the essential urbanistic role of tieing its community into the expanding networks of commerce, politics and association. gats by's tavern, the indian queen and the national hotel function as a micro cos of upper south society and culture displaying the best the area had to offer, but also reveals one of its worst aspects, the slave trade. john gats by's wealth debated on lively patronage, but also on the pain and suffering of enslaved people he bought and sold. like other masters throughout
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the upper south, john gats by excused human trafficking to make money. gats by was by no means operating on the level of alexandria's franklin and arm felt who sold hundreds of people throughout the 1830s and '40s. he only sold a few people at a time. his son william also cast a shadow on his reputation. he followed his father into the hotel business. unlike his father, he was publicly named as a trader by abolitionists. williams' participation in human trafficking coupled with new evidence from newspapers and anti slavely tracks helps illuminate gats by's own involvement. john gats by's illustrious career as a hotel owner is store read, whereas william gats by's story is much mercury. john gats by was born in england around 1776, immigrated to america after the revolution and
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arrived in alexandria in 1785. he then leased a tavern from john wise around 1800 and demonstrated his aptitude for business turning into gats by's tavern where he entertained george washington and other notables like jefferson and adams. he later put the tavern and farm up for lease and left for baltimore in 1808 where he became the proprietor of the plush hotel, the indian king which he later sells to david barnham in 1819. a around 1822 he moved to washington, d.c. and opened the franklin hotel in 1823 and later at the pinnacle of his career builds the national hotel where he sbro tand presidents such as andrew jackson, hosted congressmen and welcomed various foreign dignitaries. the nationals was host to a flurry of balls, galas and meetings of washington's elite. john gats by moved into the upper echelons of society by announcing his retirement from
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the hotel business and acquiring decatur house in 1836. he then continued the entertaining he was well known for as a hoe tailier. he died in 1844 and bequeathed 17 enslaved people to his wife probe by. his son on the other hand leaves little in the historical record. williams gats by was born in 1810 presumably in baltimore. it is possible he opened a cigar and fine goods shop when he was 19 in 1829 and later when his father retired in 1836. he took over the national hotel. in 1844 soon after his father's death he sells the national hotel and moves to a hotel named gads by's, a smaller hotel a few blocks away. around 1856 he ends up selling this hotel due to problems with debt and becomes government clerk. the common thread between the two is again they're both in the
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hotel business and as i show in my paper, they're both small time slave traders. while john gads by's various hotels appear to be the site of slave trading, accusations against him do not arise until he moves into the famed decatur house. one of the most cited accusations comes from a private letter of a french diplomat to fraend. in 1840 he writes some days ago i went to an evening party at gadsby's, the proprietier of the hotel where i stayed on my arrival here. he's an old retch who made his fortune in the slave trade which does not provide washington society from rushing to his house. i should make my government unhappy if i refuse to associate with these kind of people. marie beal who bequeathed decatur house to the national trust for historic preservation in 1956 and also wrote a history of lafayette square, she states that john gadsby's stay there
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was an unfortunate chapter in the house's long history. he turned the house into an auction block. you could hear the wales and cries of unfortunate people being sold down south as you walked past eighth street. however, this is regarded in part as hearsay. there has been much dispute among scholars about how much john gads by could have been involved in the slave trade if at auchlt seraphin who worked as a research fellow did exhaustive work on john gadsby. she argued he was a victim of anti-americanism and snob by from people like marie beal who may have revealed him as a self made man as an intrusion upon the square. conversely, carla jones argues in his master's thee tis t hidden history of lafayette square, given the veiled but deeply enter tined nature of slavery in the square, gadsby's association with the slave trade
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is a great possibility. determining if he participated in the slave trade is more difficult to pinpoint since it was likely he was involved in private sells. in an 1842 in the anti-slavery publication "the watchman" an article appeared. the author discusses the vial practice of slave kidnapping and the levels of slave trading within the city. one category involved hotelier's and tavern owner's speculating on the right for selling enslaved people. they accused the unfortunate enslaved person of wrongdoing or to justify their sale and also to cover up their misdeeds. historian christopher phillips notes it was popular to sell men whose slave trade was valued greatly due to their ability to serve in a variety of roles from domestics to field hands. an example is the case of charles henry wood, a young man who gads by intended to sell in
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1836 a few months before he moved to decatur house. gads by purchased him april 1st, 1834. he attempted to sell charles to a man in richmond for 24 years rather than the 20 left in servitude. when the man realized the discrepancy, he returned charles wood to john gads by. gadsby then tried to sell him again, but charles wood was able to sue him in court for attempting to add time to his servitude. in response to the complaint john gadsby had the right to sell him because charles was a thief and not fit to work in a public hotel. furthermore, the problem with the discrepancy was just a misunderstanding on the part of his auctioneer, charles dire. when he realized his mistake he would sell charles for the appropriate 20-year period. however, unfortunately for
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gadsby, charles -- the court ruled and good for charles woods, they ruled in his favor and decreed that john gadsby could not sell him. the case does demonstrate the callous disregard and even trickery. sales like these were not uncommon, adding a few years to charles's servitude would have made him more valuable. however, does this make him a slave trade or heavily involved in the slave trade? it's time to turn to his hotels in baltimore, washington, d.c. and alexandria which were all hubs for slave trading. from the 1790s to the 1810s, 40,000 to 50,000 enslaved people were sent from the upper to the lower south either through the slave trade or plan to migration. historians attribute approximately 30% to 50% of these movements were due to the domestic slave trade. during the years of 1820 to 1860 approximately 875,000 enslaved people were forced to migrate from the upper to the lower
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south. it is estimated the slave trade accounted for at least 60 to 70 of those movements. alexandria during john gadsby's time from the 1700s to the 1810s teamed be slave trading businesses because it was a port city and allowed for easy shipping. slave traders operated in taverns and hotels in places like king and duke street. african-americans had few protections whether they were free or enslaved, and free people were in danger of being sold if they denied free passes or not registered in accordance with the laws. however, there was a substantial population of african-americans allowing them to form a strong community. no nonetheless, between restrictive codes and slave trading, life for free and enslaved black alexandrians was a difficult one. how did john gadsby figured into
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the slave trade? legal records indicate he sold at least six people from 1797 to 1801. in 1800 he owned 11 enslaved people age 16 or above. john gadsby also advertised for ten people to purchase or hire along with four runaways. interesting most of the runaways and the people he wanted to purchase were men for specific jobs. for instance, he requests blacksmiths and men accustomed to plantation work. when selling one of his farms, he nodes he has valuable field hands for sale. it was common practice to buy and sell enslaved people in taverns and hotels. in an advertisement he states he's looking for families of enslaved people for a farm not to be sold or bartered for, but to be removed to a good situation. it is unlikely known how many enslaved people were bought or sold based on the advertisement, given it asks for a number of prime negroes and welcomes whole
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families, it was likely quite a substantial number. he held an enslaved man named moses for a mr. marshal who pos bly duped him. moses was sold to a man from new orleans. mr. marshal managed to enslave him from a man and traveled to new york to get his freedom and then left him in the care of john gadsby. any records in the involvement in slave trading in 1808 -- end around 1808 when hep leaves for baltimore. in baltimore, john gadsby continued to use enslaved labor at his indian queen hotel. for african-americans the climate of slavery and their conditions were somewhat better. the postwar depression inspired a switch to the less labor intensive wheat and corn as cash crops, limiting the need for enslaved people. while many owners sold the people they enslaved, many more
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man meanted people. so many that laws were passed to curb it. however, there were more missions leading to term slavery. another option was self purchase in which enslaved people grad rally earned the money to buy their freem dom or freedom of family members. however, owning enslaved people still remained a status symbol in baltimore. free african-americans during this time were limited by their economic opportunities and further pinned in by racist attitudes. john gads by himself didn't hire free african-americans at the indian queen which was regarded as one of the plushest hotels in baltimore. the club-like hotel had a reading room as well as baths for customers. it was unusual for the large number of enslaved people. however, given the supt ous dinners and lavish setting he needed a large domestic force. the census records list him as having 45 enslaved people in 1810.
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the advertisements tell the story again of any involvement of the slave trade. during the years 1810 to 1818 he asked for 32 to 36 people to work in his hotel. he notes he prefers to purchase rather than hire enslaved people. some of the advertisements specifically request people from the country as opposed to urban slaves which he considered spoiled and prone to running away. however, it could have been due to the fact that an enslaved person from the country may have had fewer connections and would have been easier to sell. the runaway ads also demonstrate gads by bought and sold people. for instance, we know from a jail add, basically an ad that would say come get this person. they run away. he sold 20 or 21-year-old man named william to a slave trader from new orleans in 1812. he had previously placed a runaway ad for william when he
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left when he was 18 in 1810. i guess he managed to get him back. another runaway advertisement for a bench man journey who was purchased from the countryside which disrupt it is theory, mostly urban slaves were prone to run away. there were nine runaways in total, mostly young men likely to be sold adds field hands. this was due to a particularly lucrative market in new orleans spurred by the growth of louisiana sugar plantations. the only woman john gads by took out advertisements for was a mary, a young woman who ran away with her recently vaccinated 12-month-old son. in mary's case, it appears he purchased her in 1809 from a woman living four miles outside of baltimore. additionally he mentioned a man named joe downs who helped her escape and offer ed a substantil reward for his capture. in the same vein john gads by took out a runaway advertisement for john how and his mother.
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john how is about 25 years old. his free mother, sarah howe was about 40 to 50. john gads by offered reward for both of their captures. again, the evidence slows to a crawl in about 1818 just before gads by sells his indian queen hotel. in 1819 he announced his retirement from the public life and sells his lands, livestock, coaches from his passenger and mail line and states 20 or 30 enslaved people were to be hired out. it is highly likely he sold many of the people he had in 1810 and may have purchased while he had the hotel in baltimore. the census record for 1820 states he only had 15 people, about a third of the people he had in 1810. there are no records that he freed anyone. and even accounting for deaths and runaways it is very likely he sold at least 30 since he wouldn't have even had a place to house them. john gads by stated he was retiring from the public life.
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it's clear that upon arriving in d.c. he did anything but. he purchased franklin house in 1823 and later in 1827 opened the national hotel, arguably the tour deforce of his long career. the national hotel located on pennsylvania and third in what is now downtown washington bore a reputation for splendid accommodations and parties. it was a fop lar place for prominent people and politicians from the region. again, it was impossible for him to run the hotel without the labor of african-americans. they are mostly enslaved people he owned or hired out from residents in the area. however, he did hire some free african-americans as well as whites to work at his hotel.
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many enslaved people were hired out or allowed to hire themselves out which permitted again self purchase. in many cases women worked typically as domestics or lawn dresses and men on the other hand did manual labor worked as personal valets, coach men or waiters. free and enslaved african-americans were closely bonded. free people taught enslaved people to read and write. in spite of the close knit community african-americans experienced a mercurial existence. living conditions varied greatly. access to the people depended on the people who owned or hired them. also both enslaved and free african-americans had fears of being sold at any time. while free african-americans had some protections.
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these were not strongly enforced. if they didn't have their free passes on them, they could be labeled as runaways. even if someone did not come to claim them, they could be sold to cover the jail fees. they were charged a daily fee to be held in the jail. these conditions helped make the slave trade in d.c. lucrative with d.c. teetering between anti-slavery and pro slavery sensibilities. washington, d.c. functioned as large slave depot for nearly r50 years where enslaved people from maryland and alexandria were often held before being sold down south to georgia, the carolinas or new orleans. numerous advertisements called for 20 to 40, 50 to 80 or as many as 200 people at a time. small scale trading was rife among owners, particularly in tav verns and hotels. most sales involved say five to 20 people at a time. even more common were brokers helping owners to sell off a few
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people to raise a little money as scholar mary beth core gan notes. during the years circa 1822 to 1836, john gads by at tiesed 81 to 93 people. his 1830 census record indicates he owned 39 people. again, john gads by could take advantage of the flourishing slave trade. the national hotel was relatively close to other hotels in the city involved in the slave trade and a reasonable distance depends. one infamous hotel, the st. charles, advertised that you could come for the auction and house the people you bought in their basements. it was very convenient. one infamous hotel -- during the first decades or so, slave trading appeared to be concentrated in georgetown and later moves to what is now downtown washington near the
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national mall and the capitol. there were several notorious in the area. in the late 1830s he advertised his jail was near the national hotel. it was located between 7th and 9th streets near independence avenue approximately where the federal aviation building is today. rather than a jail, however, john gadsby used his hotel as a facade and a continue can you tell for his dealings. carla jones argues slave traders or the national hotel functioned as urban plantations. he cites historian herman bernard who states these places were intended not as places of agricultural production but social organization. charles dickens during his tour of america in 1842 described the
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yard or area demarcated for enslaved people at a hotel many historians believe is the national. the hotel in which we live is a long row of houses fronting on the house, opening at the back upon a common yard in which hangs a gray triangle. whenever a servant is wanted, someone beats on this triangle from one stroke up to seven according to the number of the house in which his presence in required. as all the servants are always being wanted and none of them ever come, this en livening engine is in full performance the whole day through. clothes are drying in the same yard. female slaves with cotton handkerchiefs twisted around their heads are running to and fro hotel business. black waiters cross and recross with dishes in their hands. this hotel seems to function as a large scale version of an urban plantation. for instance, its seems john gadsby had his own core personal household and the rest of his staff at the hotel could be bought and sold at will.
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the plan tapgs enterprise coupled with the boom in slave trading turned enslaved people into commodities to be bought and sold and traded across state lines. most if not all the people working in gadsby's hotels were enslaved creating a strong relation between servitude and african-americans. it's possible he increased their value through the work at the hotel because they're trained to work with so many guests and do a variety of tasks. enslaved people are described as armies, masses or given unpleasant characteristics such as laziness or being incompetent which demonstrates that perhaps this process of conscious or unconscious dehumanization worked. a traveler describes a spectacle militaristic atmosphere of the national hotel. gads by conducted his hotel in a military style. this is observed at his long dinner table, the guests all being seated and an army of colored servants standing by hind chairs. mr. gads by a short, stout
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gentleman. standing at the hell of the table, the guests silent with expectation. the word was given, remove covers. all the servants moved each at the same moment placing his hand upon the handle of the silver, lifting it, stepping back in line. at the sign of mr. gads by all marching and keeping in regular step. edward ab difficult an englishman who stayed at the national hotel in his conversations with an enslaved man who was hired to work for john gads by learned that there are approximately 70 to 80 people working there who barely knew each other. furthermore, the enslaved man was worried his wife was going to be sold to raise money, bringing us back to john gads by. using charles wood as an example we see gads by may have purchased him for advertisements he ran for servants male and female from february 26 to april
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13, 1884. since he bought charles april 1st, 1834, it's likely he purchased him as a result of these advertisements. in addition he tried to sell charles in may during the early part of the buying and selling season during the slave trade like most other enterprises, slave trading was a seasonal thing. he may have also sold charles to offset the cost of buying his retirement home, decatur house. in addition, we see in the census of 1840 that he, as cath lynn mentioned, that there were only is 1 people, a drastic drop from 39 and he more than likely sold -- he did free some people. more than likely a lot of the people he ended up selling again, like he did in baltimore. the advertisements, legal records and census records tell part of the people about john gads by. william gads by's actions help fill in the gaps. like his father, william gads by
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clearly engaged in small-time slave trading. an advertisement ran in which william lamar asked for servants to take to georgia with him. the most notable evidence again is from the previously mentioned article entitled manhunters. william is actually publicly named as a trader in this article and he is considered part of a third class who engaged in speculation by jockeying for horses, stating they will watch their chance to buy at a gar gan and when opportunity occurs to sell it in advance, it is easy to find fault with the slave to justify their consciousness in their pocket. a prime illustration of this is the kennedy williams case which took place march 23rd, 1838. william gads by along with newton, gads by's son-in-law who c co-owned the national hotel,
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william h. williams, the notorious slave trader and jailer i mentioned earlier and j. pendleton were brought to court to testimony. william kennedy believed he was going to be wrongfully sold down south. pendleton hired him out to work at the national -- william gads by accused him of thievery and had him thrown in jail. unfortunately we don't know the case's resolution and the ultimate fate of kennedy williams. another piece of the puzzle can be found in the antislavery tract, the fifth annual report of the new york community of vim lens in 1842. a young man recounts his tale of working at the national hotel as carriage driver. he does not state which gats by sold him, but it was most likely william. they were sold to work in the cotton fields. fortunately he was able to escape and find help in the district where he was very well known. he fled into new york on horseback and was able to speak to an antislavery group there


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