Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Lafayette Park Slave Market

The north facade of the White House in Washington, D.C. seen from Lafayette Park (originally President's Park). The statue of Andrew Jackson by Clark Mills errected in 1853 was the first equistraian statue in the United States. The distant Washington Monument is visible on the left. (source: inetours)
Lafayette Square in Washington, DC Was Once a Graveyard.

Christian Hines, in his reminiscences, refers to graves being in the southwest corner of the square about 1800, and an old resident states that in his boyhood, about 1840, there were evidences of a graveyard found in the northeast part - skulls, bones etc., and common report was that it had been the burial place for slaves and in the preceeding century, and part of a pear orchard encroached the northern border. There had been erected a fence of three narrow planks prior to 1834 when $1,000 was appropriated to repair it and plant trees. At each corner of the square a stile prevented the intrusion of horses and cattle, and the paths made were well worn, the center especially, by the department people. Down to 1850 it was a playground for the boys, and not infrequently were snakes found there. When Gen. Taylor occupied the white house, 1849-18?? his war horse, Old Whitey, often browsed there as well as the cows of a cabinet officer. (source: Washington Evening Star, 19 April 1913)

While training at Metz in 1775, Lafayette met the Comte de Broglie, commander of the Army of the East. Taking a liking to the young man, de Broglie invited him to join the Freemasons. Through his affiliation in this group, Lafayette learned of the tensions between Britain and its American colonies. By participating in the Freemasons and other "thinking groups" in Paris, Lafayette became an advocate for the rights of man and the abolition of slavery


Lafayette Square, once surrounded by residential houses and mansions was a grand neighborhood that included the White House. Benjamin H. Latrobe's Saint John’s Church, built in 1816, was soon followed by his design for Stephen Decatur's house. erected 1818–19, on the northwest corner of the square. Dolley Madison spent her last years in a residence directly across the park on the northeast side of the square. In 1902 during the renovation of the White House, Theodore Roosevelt became a temporary square resident, living near Decatur House at 22 Jackson Place.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Ron,
    What's your source on LS being a slave market? Also, everything i've read about it being an orchard suggested Apples, not pears.

    • Used in various capacities over the years including race track, family graveyard, zoo, apple orchard, encampment for soldiers during War of 1812, and political protests.

    ReplyDelete

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