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Chocolate CityA History of Race and Democracy in the Nation's Capital$
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Chris Myers Asch and George Derek Musgrove

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781469635866

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469635866.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.northcarolina.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of North Carolina Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NCSO for personal use.date: 21 September 2021

Of Slaving Blacks and Democratic Whites

Of Slaving Blacks and Democratic Whites

Building a Capital of Slavery and Freedom, 1790–1815

Chapter:
(p.16) Two Of Slaving Blacks and Democratic Whites
Source:
Chocolate City
Author(s):

Chris Myers Asch

George Derek Musgrove

Publisher:
University of North Carolina Press
DOI:10.5149/northcarolina/9781469635866.003.0003

This chapter describes the founding of Washington, D.C., as the capital of the United States. The area that became Washington was a fully functioning slave society, and the city that grew atop those fields incorporated slavery into every aspect of life. From its inception Washington embodied the contradiction endemic to America itself, the paradoxical juxtaposition of freedom and slavery that bedeviled the nation and ultimately led to the Civil War. Enslaved people worked on public construction projects, they were bought and sold within sight of the Capitol, they drove the hacks that crisscrossed the city, and they waited on the men who ran the nation. Early Washington was a Southern city that was immersed in slavery and benefited immensely from it. Another contradiction embedded into the fabric of the city was that its citizens lacked democracy’s basic unit of currency: the right to vote. The city became a political colony, a district whose fate rested not with the local people who called it home but with the national political leaders who resided there temporarily.

Keywords:   Slavery, Enslaved people, Free black people, Democracy, Voting

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