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OMEKA Part 1: Intro to the Enslaved Communities of Washinton and Mason

During my History 300 class during college at George Mason University, I was given the assignment to complete an OMEKA project. OMEKA is George Mason’s Roy Rosenzweig Center’s claim to fame and the program is used by educators, historians, and academics to create digital collections and exhibits.

However, for ease of access, I am posting my project here. Hope you enjoy it. These posts do not need to be read in order, so feel free to skip around but I feel that reading in order would be more informative.

Introduction: Comparative Analysis of Mount Vernon and Gunston Hall’s Enslaved Communities

George Mason and George Washington enslaved 434 people in total on their respective plantations in Fairfax County.1 Despite relying on the labor of the enslaved communities at Gunston Hall and Mount Vernon only recently has information been compiled to detail the lives of these individuals. It is known that many Virginian plantations were remarkably similar in how the enslaved communities that resided there lived and worked. However, what can we learn from the differences between the enslaved communities’ lives at Gunston Hall and Mount Vernon plantations, and how does this reflect on the two owners?

Scholars of George Washington’s Mount Vernon tend to describe the plantation and Washington’s treatment of the enslaved living there as better than other plantations. There are primary source examples in which other white landowners describe the plantation and Washington’s treatment of the enslaved living on the plantation with some of the opinion that slaves lived much better there than on other plantations while others disagreed. How does this stand up to scrutiny? Was there a substantial improvement in the quality of life for the enslaved at Mount Vernon compared to other Virginian plantations such as Gunston Hall? What are the substantial differences between the two plantations if any?


1 Jackson T. Main, “The One Hundred” The William and Mary Quarterly 11, no. 3 (1954): 378-383.

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