Author explores history of slaves in the White House

- Fact: President Obama is not the first African-American to live at the White House. Many of the slaves who built the President’s house lived there too.

Author Jesse J. Holland explores the untold stories of the slaves who had a presence in the White House from the county’s earliest days in his new book, 'The Invisibles: The Untold Story of African American Slaves in the White House.'

Here are some facts about the White House's little known residents:


George Washington didn’t live in the White House in Washington, D.C., but in his executive mansion in New York, he was accompanied by his servant, William Lee. Lee was so close to Washington that he could often be found by his side even when riding on horseback.


When Thomas Jefferson brought an enslaved female cook to the White House from his estate in Monticello, he left her husband behind. When she became pregnant her husband fled from Monticello and was captured on the White House lawn.


A slave named Paul Jennings wrote a tell-all book about life in the White House with the Madison family and even claimed the Dolly Madison’s story about saving a portrait of Washington was a lie! Jennings claims that he and other slaves saved George Washington’s portrait when the White House was looted by British soldiers during the war of 1812.

"All these people lived inside the White House and helped bring about the country and no one knows who they are. By writing their stories it helps bring a little bit of the dignity back to the people who were enslaved by U.S. presidents," Holland said.

Find out more about the book here:

Up Next:

  • Popular

  • Recent

More Stories You May Be Interested In - Includes Advertiser Stories