A - Rare Achievement
Center at Mt. Vernon Square (see MAP)
Metro: Mt. Vernon Square Station (Green-Yellow Lines)
informational links below)
How would you live under "black codes"
that restricted your activities and the occupations open to you?
You would probably be careful to carry your certificate of freedom
with you to protect you from being kidnapped and sold into slavery.
Although many rights were denied, it was legal
in Washington for people of color to own property and a small number
managed to do so. In 1840 Smith Harley, an African-American well-digger,
paid $400 for a new row house on 8th Street near the corner of L
Street. He and his wife Ellen lived there with their two children
until they sold their property in 1850. George Garrison, who worked
as a waiter and whitewasher, bought the house next door in the same
year. Garrison’s name appears in the Manumission and Emancipation
Record. Mrs. Ann Miller of Georgetown certified that she’d known
Garrison since his infancy and that he was born free.
A very limited amount of archaeology tells us that
the Harleys and Garrisons owned pretty much the same household objects
as their white neighbors. The Harleys and the Garrisons are, so
far, the only pre-Civil War free people of color that archaeologists
can associate directly with excavated remains. Such finds are an
important foundation for archaeology in the District and will be
useful as more examples are found to build up a more complete picture
of life in the city before the Civil War.
in Downtown Washington, DC,
walking and metro guide to the past...
produced cooperatively by the National Park Service, National
Center for Cultural Resources, Archeology and Ethnography Program;
the District of Columbia Office of Planning, Historic Preservation
Office; the Center for Heritage Resource Studies, University
of Maryland, College Park; and the Society for American Archaeology.
African-Americans in Washington
History of Black Washington (from Progressive Review)
Black Codes (from Progressive
Day, Washington, DC