Blacks and the White House: Slavery and service





The first child born at the White House was the grandson of President Thomas Jefferson. The second child born there was his property — the African-American baby of Jefferson's two slaves.

Slaves not only helped build the White House, but also for decades men and women in bondage served America's presidents and first families as butlers, cooks and maids.

Two hundred years later, Barack Obama's election as the 44th president — the first black chief executive — is casting a spotlight on the complicated history of African-Americans and the exalted place they called home — the White House.

During and after slavery, black workers made the White House function. Obama's entry on Jan. 20, 2009, will be a moment for the ages that few of them could imagine.


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