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African American History in the White House - Photo 1

African American History in the White House - Photo 1

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The Estate of Sylvia Jennings Alexander

African American History in the White House - Photo 1

Paul Jennings was a slave of President James Madison, but he is known more for his seminal work, “A Colored Man’s Reminiscences of James Madison” than for his time as a slave. The book, published in 1865, is considered the first White House memoir and a valuable tome on what life was like during those early days of the United States. For example, when President Madison brought him to the White House, “the east room was not finished, and Pennsylvania Avenue was not paved, but was always in an awful condition from either mud or dust. The city was a dreary place.”

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