Library Blog

Hercules Posey, Chef to the Elite

Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Hercules Posey, a well-known Black chef in white 18th-century society, played a significant role in American history and the household of George Washington. Every six months, the Washingtons cycled their slaves between Mount Vernon and Philadelphia to evade the Gradual Abolition Act of Slavery established in 1780. During one of these cycles, Posey emancipated himself and escaped from Mount Vernon.

Posey spent the rest of his life as a free man and was buried in the Second African Burying Ground on Chrystie Street in lower Manhattan. Posey’s remarkable story is featured in the Library’s 270th Anniversary Exhibition. Join us for a tour on July 17, July 24, or another date coming up!

For more information about this fascinating individual, explore the links below.

The main article about Posey from George Washington's Mount Vernon site

An article about Posey's life and cuisine from the BBC

Shown here: The President’s house in Philadelphia, where Hercules and eight other enslaved household members lived during Washington’s presidency.

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