Journey To Judge: Researching Ona Judge Part IV

Hi everybody! Sorry for such a long wait. I have been so busy with things lately, that I haven't had the time to make a post. 

Now that I do have some time, I am excited to tell you of this past Tuesday's adventure. Recently I was invited to the Museum of the American Revolution, in Philadelphia, to participate with a very special project; While I'm not at liberty to say exactly what my part is in the project just yet, once I'm cleared by the museum I will be able to talk more about it. Trust me, I am very excited and can't hardly wait!

Of what I can tell you, my visit to the MOAR was by far the most amazing thing I've ever experienced! I was able to learn a little more about the life of Ona Judge during her years living in Philadelphia between 1793-1796. Philadelphia was a booming metropolis and had become the Nation's Capitol by the time the 1st First family settled in the newly renovated President's House on High Street. Philadelphia was also home to a large free black community; slaves including Ona Judge Hercules, Moll, Joe, Christopher Sheels, Paris, Richmond, and Austin (#saytheirnames) were among the minority. The gradual movement of abolition was definitely present in the north-especially, since Pennsylvania's government installed a law that manumitted slaves after their 6 months of servitude; this however excluded personal slaves belonging to members of Congress-the only Federal branch residing in the state (until later in the early 1800's I believe). Be that as it may, Philadelphia was certainly progressive and going in the right direction in ensuring freedom for everyone. I'd also like to point out that this unique atmosphere more than likely furthered the influence on Ona Judge's decision to seek aid from the free black community and travel further north to New Hampshire, where slavery was closer to becoming illegal.

So with that bit of knowledge, I was able to learn a little more about Ona Judge's life in Philadelphia and in the President's House. Speaking of, thanks to special connections (Directors, Curators, and Operators of the museum) I was given special access to a very rare piece of history that's connected to Ona Judge. It is the only surviving artifact of the President's House: a beautiful brass door handle. I was so elated to be able to touch this historic piece because not only was it one of a kind, but it also came in contact with hands of very important people in history (George Washington, Martha Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and yes....even Ona Judge herself). What made it even more special was, that as I gingerly holding the piece in my hand and examining it, there was that connection and reality in which I was holding what Ona touched for the last time as she was making her escape. Plus, with me portraying Ona Judge in a few weeks, it was kind of like going full circle (lol). 

My mother and I looking closely at the brass door handle
Seriously, I felt like a kid at Christmas time


After my visit to the Museum of the American Revolution, I absolutely had to make a stop to the President's House on High Street (well the name of the street has changed of course, but you get the idea). 

The President's House 

Not much is there, as the house was demolished after the Nation's Capitol was moved to Washington DC during the time John Adams was President. But the city of Philadelphia was able to recreate the foundation of the structure and tell the stories of the 8 enslaved who lived and worked for George Washington during his presidency. While it was kind of difficult to picture a bustling residence in this small town house, It was still good to know that the legacies of Ona Judge and the 7 other slaves from Mount Vernon (Hercules, Austin, Paris, Christopher Sheels, Moll, Joe, Richmond) were still being told.    


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