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This brass and iron chamber door handle was removed from the Market Street house that George Washington occupied in Philadelphia during the Constitutional Convention of 1787 and as President of the United States from 1790 to 1797. Built in 1767, one block away from the Pennsylvania Statehouse (today’s Independence Hall), the house was once owned by Richard Penn, the grandson of William Penn, and by Robert Morris, who gave Washington the residence in 1790. During Washington’s residence, up to 30 people occupied the President's House, including nine enslaved Africans from Washington's Mount Vernon estate: Moll, Christopher Sheels, Hercules, his son Richmond, Joe, Ona Judge, her half-brother Austin, Giles, and Paris. George Washington rotated his enslaved people every six months between Mount Vernon and Philadelphia, to evade Pennsylvania’s 1780 Gradual Abolition Act. Ona Judge knew that a rotation was approaching and if she was rotated back to Mount Vernon, she might never be freed. In May 1796, Ona escaped from the President’s House and fled to New Hampshire, where she would live out the rest of her life. John Adams, who succeeded Washington as the second president of the United States, lived in the house from 1797 until he took up residence in the new federal capital of Washington, D.C., in 1800.

Object Details

  • Door Handle
    Unidentified Maker
    United States
    Brass, Iron
    Museum of the American Revolution, 2003.00.0225

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