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The President’s House: Freedom and Slavery in the Making of a New Nation

Commemorating the lives of nine enslaved Africans at the nation’s first executive mansion

The President's House

The President's House on Independence Mall. Credit: G. Widman for Visit Philadelphia


The Experience

President’s House: Freedom and Slavery in the Making of a New Nation explores the paradox of slavery and freedom at the nation’s first executive mansion, in which Presidents George Washington and John Adams lived during their terms and where nine enslaved people served the first president.

The open-air Independence National Historical Park site, located just steps from the Liberty Bell Center, provides visitors with different perspectives of this complex and powerful story through Porcelite panels and illustrated glass providing brief history of the site, timelines and dramatic video vignettes.

The 24-hour site also features a large glass vitrine that will allow visitors to view archaeological fragments that were unearthed at the site in 2007 and a place to partake in silent reflection.


From 1790 to 1800, the city of Philadelphia was our new nation’s capital and the President’s House, home to Presidents George Washington and John Adams, served as America’s first executive mansion.

The forefathers fought hard to attain freedom for “We the People” but in one of our nation’s great paradoxes, President George Washington brought at least nine enslaved Africans from his Mount Vernon home to live and work in the President’s House, which stood just one block from Independence Hall.

President’s House: Freedom and Slavery in the Making of a New Nation commemorates the site of the executive mansion of the first two United States presidents and reveals the long-obscured glimpse into the lives of the enslaved Africans who toiled at the house during Washington’s presidency.


Learn more about the history of the President’s House and the project to build the commemorative site in the following video:

Philly 360

For more information on Philadelphia’s African American history and culture, visit’s Legacy section.


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