Rolling Out

First lady Abigail Adams watched ‘half fed’ slaves build White House

White House 1846 - Library of Congress
White House 1846 – Library of Congress

The most remarked upon portion of Michelle Obama’s DNC speech was this:

“I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves. And I watch my daughters, two beautiful, intelligent, black young women, playing with their dogs on the White House lawn.”

While many found this candor joyous, some factions took umbrage, most notably Fox News host Bill O’Reilly who said during his Tip of the Day segment:

“Slaves that worked there were well-fed and had decent lodgings provided by the government.”

Abigail Adams - Library of Congress
Abigail Adams – Library of Congress

However, first lady Abigail Adams, who occupied the White House while slaves were building it recorded her observations in a letter to her husband’s cousin, Cotton Tufts:

“The effects of Slavery are visible every where; and I have amused myself from day to day in looking at the labour of 12 negroes from my window, who are employd with four small Horse Carts to remove some dirt in front of the house…it is true Republicanism that drive the Slaves half fed, and destitute of cloathing…whilst the owner waches about Idle…”

So, O’Reilly stands corrected.

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