Dolley Madison's House
Mrs. Madison's Slaves Again
Eds. Albany Patriot:
GENTLEMEN – You have readily admitted to your columns my account of the manner in which Mrs. Madison deals with her people, called slaves. I have a correction or two which I wish to make. It is difficult to gather and state such facts as I had to deal with in this case, with perfect accuracy. Substantially I have stated the facts as they actually exist, but there are one or two particulars to be varied and enlarged. Congress actually paid thirty thousand dollars for the Madison manuscripts instead of twenty thousand, as I have before stated the sum. The man sold by Mrs. Madison was the confidential and personal attendant of Mr. Madison for sixteen years, and not twenty-five. Immediately after the death of her husband, Mrs. Madison promised to set the man free, as she knew was the wish and expectation of Mr. Madison. After she brought him to this city he worked a year and a half or two years on wages, which she took to the last red cent, leaving him to get his clothes by presents, night-work, or as he might. Thus situated, and fearing every day her wants might urge her to sell him to the traders, he insisted she should fix the price, which he would contrive to pay, whatever he might be. Two hundred dollars he actually did advance to her. The girl, Helen, she agreed to send to the street-pump at dusk. Two traders were actually there to seize her, but they happened not to recognize her, and she passed them and made tracks down street. At the time of Mr. Madison's death, there were one hundred and fifteen (115) slaves on the place. He is supposed to have left an estate equal to one hundred thousand dollars, and nearly all of it to his wife. The farm is gone, and all the slaves excepting a mother and three or four children. These it is said are levied upon by the officer.
If my first letter is copied into any paper, I will thank the editor to subjoin these additional facts in a postscript. Yours, sincerely, Hampden.
Washington, March 8, 1848. [Published in the Albany Patriot]