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Building the White House - Photo 3

Building the White House - Photo 3

Credit
The White House Historical Association

Building the White House - Photo 3

This payroll from May 1795 lists five enslaved people: Tom, Peter, Ben, Harry and Daniel. Tom, Peter, Ben, and Harry were owned by White House architect James Hoban. Daniel was owned by Hoban’s assistant, Pierce Purcell. In many payrolls related to federal construction projects, the enslaved person is listed either listed only by their first name, with their owner’s last name, or with a mark like “N” to indicate their enslaved status. Their owner typically signed for their wages on the opposite side of the payroll, allowing researchers and historians to learn about their enslavement. White wage laborers usually signed for themselves.

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