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Reconstruction Period Research Forum

A Colored Man's Reminiscences of James Madison

A Colored Man's Reminiscences of James Madison
Source:White House History: A journal published occasionally by the White House Historical Association (740 Jackson Place N.W., Washington, D.C. 20506), Volume 1, Number 1, 1983, pp. 46-51

A Colored Man's Reminiscences of James Madison

by Paul Jennings

[Editor's note: This is a reprint in its entirety of the 1865 memoir of Paul Jennings, a former slave, and the preface that originally accompanied it. A commentary follows.]

Preface. Among the laborers at the Department of the Interior is an intelligent colored man, Paul Jennings, who was born a slave on President Madison's estate, in Montpelier, Va., in 1799. His reputed father was Benj. Jennings, an English trader there; his mother, a slave of Mr. Madison, and the granddaughter of an Indian. Paul was a "body servant" of Mr. Madison, till his death, and afterwards of Daniel Webster, having purchased his freedom of Mrs. Madison. His character for sobriety, truth, and fidelity, is unquestioned; and as he was a daily witness of interesting events, I have thought some of his recollections were worth writing down in almost his own language.

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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