The Extraordinary Story of One of George Washington’s Slaves

This biographical essay tells the story of a character who actually existed and whose life followed a remarkable path.

Harry was kidnapped in Africa when he was young, and was transported to America on a slave ship. There he was purchased by George Washington, the man who would become the first president of the United States. Harry escaped twice, eventually enlisting to fight with British troops in the American Revolutionary War, who had promised freedom to the slaves who joined them. When the British were defeated, he was evacuated to New York and then to Nova Scotia. From there, he made his way back across the Atlantic, but now as a free man, and resettled in the small colony of Free Town, which had been established by a private British company in order to take in slaves who had been freed. He was eventually led to join a rebellion against the white, military administration of the colony. For this, he was tried and sentenced to banishment. He then vanished into the tropical forest.

The book’s prologue locates this story in the context of the Atlantic world of the eighteenth century, the fight against trafficking and slavery, and the French and American revolutions.

The text that follows is structured in twelve sequences: 1) Kidnapped, 2) Embarked and Transported, 3) Disembarked and Sold, 4) Named, 5) Exploited, 6) Fugitive, 7) Enlisted, 8) Freed, 9) Refugee, 10) Emigrant, 11) Colonist and Betrayed, 12) Rebelled and Banished.

Finally, an epilogue explores Harry’s trajectory as well as the figure of George Washington; it examines the idea that the events that Harry endured were determinant for both the emergence of the Back to Africa movement in African-American communities and the process of the colonization of Africa.

Harry Washington
L’extraordinaire histoire d’un esclave de George Washington.

Le Cavalier Bleu, publisher in Paris

188 pages