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Never Caught: The Washingtons' Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge


When George Washington was elected president, he reluctantly left behind his beloved Mount Vernon to serve in Philadelphia, the temporary seat of the nation’s capital. In setting up his household he brought along nine slaves, including Ona Judge. 

So, when the opportunity presented itself one clear and pleasant spring day in Philadelphia, Judge left everything she knew to escape to New England. Yet freedom would not come without its costs. At just twenty-two-years-old, Ona became the subject of an intense manhunt led by George Washington, who used his political and personal contacts to recapture his property.

By Erica Armstrong Dunbar, Published by Simon & Schuster, 2018, 288 pages, softcover.

Interested in learning more about slavery at Mount Vernon, click here, to listen to our Director of Public Education, Elizabeth Sulock, talk with Jessie MacLeod, a former Newport Historical Society Buchanan Burnham Fellow and current Associate Curator at George Washington’s Mount Vernon, discusses curating the exhibit Lives Bound Together: Slavery at George Washington’s Mount Vernon