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Enslaved laborers participated in every stage of building construction, from the quarrying and transportation of stone to the construction of the Executive Mansion. They worked alongside European craftsmen, white wage laborers, and other free African-American wage laborers.

Learn more about the construction of the White House here.

Learn about our Slavery in the President’s Neighborhood initiative.

A slave coffle passing the Capitol grounds, 1815, published in A Popular History of the United States, 1876.

Library of Congress

Stonemason Collen Williamson trained enslaved people on the spot at the government's quarry at Aquia, Virginia. Enslaved people quarried and cut the rough stone that was later dressed and laid by Scottish masons to erect the walls of the President's House. The slaves joined a work force that included local white laborers and artisans from Maryland and Virginia, as well as immigrants from Ireland, Scotland, and other European nations.

This May 1795 payroll lists the carpenters who worked on the President’s House. The government did not own slaves, but officials did hire out enslaved laborers from their owners. Slave carpenters Peter, Ben, Daniel, and Harry were noted as owned by James Hoban.

National Archives and Records Administration

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