Enslaved people present at the Continental Congress?

Ami Pflugrad-Jackisch's picture

Hi all, 

Does anyone know of a source that provides information about which delegates to the First or Second Continental Congresses brought enslaved people with them to Phliadelphia?  I assume that many did -- and that as a result enslaved people were also present at formal and informal discussions that took place about about liberty, independence, etc. I would like to include this in lectures for my American Revolution class, but can't find any sources. 

Tangentially, I also wonder then if this should reshape how the story is told at Carpenter's Hall and other sites of public memory. 

Thanks for your help.

Ami Pflugrad-Jackisch, University of Toledo

Categories: Query

Slavery is legal everywhere in the US until 1780 when Mass abolishes it in its constitution (although slave holding lingers for a couple of years after that) and PA passes the first gradual abolition act. I can't answer your question about who brought them to the Congress, but whoever came to Philadelphia would not have thought twice about bringing a slave.

Paul Finkelman
Gratz College

For a research report, I analyzed a runaway advertisement for a woman known as Bet, held in bondage in Philadelphia by a Maryland delegate to the 2nd Continental Congress. The report will be public in a few months. I have not come across a study that provides the information you are seeking.

Benjamin Rush's medical journals would be one place to check. He inoculated patriot officers and Continental delegates coming in to the city along with their servants (free or enslaved) and recorded payments, etc.

All, pretty sure I have this right. i.e., common knowledge that GW brought at least one slave to one of the CCs. this strikes me as something close to a 'no brainer'.