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Oney Judge’s Flight to Freedom

February 2, 2012

An advertisement announcing the escape of Oney Judge; courtesy of http://www.ushistory.org

In 1794, Oney Judge was one of four slaves to serve President Washington and his family at the Deschler-Morris House. Germantown, along with the nation, remembers her for her daring escape to freedom.

Oney Judge was born into slavery in 1773. At the age of 10 she began her life as a servant of the President’s household eventually becoming Martha Washington’s personal attendant. With Philadelphia as the seat of the federal government, Oney spent a great deal of time in Pennsylvania, but careful planning barred her from taking advantage of the Gradual Abolition Act, which would grant a slave his or her freedom after six months of residency.

After being promised as a wedding gift, Oney fled, seizing the freedom that she was tactfully denied. She settled in New Hampshire and started a family. Although attempts at capture were made, Oney Judge never returned to the Washingtons, remaining a fugitive until her death. Abolitionist papers spread Oney’s story of bravery and have allowed us to remember her to this day.

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