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Thu Dec 13, 2012, 10:17 AM

Researcher finds slaves quarried sandstone used to build Smithsonian Castle

Source: Washington Post

By Manuel Roig-Franzia, Dec 13, 2012 05:00 AM EST

The Washington Post Published: December 12 | Updated: Thursday, December 13, 12:00 AM

The iconic red sandstone used to build the Smithsonian Castle, one of Washington’s most recognizable buildings, was quarried by slaves, including some who were once most likely owned by Martha Washington, according to new historical research to be published Thursday.

The discovery by anthropology professor Mark Auslander adds to what has been a years-long reckoning with slavery’s role in Washington landmarks, including the Capitol and the White House, and adds nuance to the historical portrait of the Smithsonian Castle, which was built between 1847 and 1855.

Auslander, a native Washingtonian, said in an interview that the Smithsonian has been reluctant over the years to address whether slave labor might have played a part in the history of the Castle. “It’s just an area of total silence,” said Auslander, whose findings are to be unveiled in Southern Spaces, an online, peer-reviewed journal published in cooperation with Emory University’s Robert W. Woodruff Library. “The Smithsonian hasn’t gone through the truth-and-reconciliation process that a lot of institutions have gone through. But I think there’s a willingness to do so.”

Auslander, who teaches at Central Washington University, does not contend that slaves participated directly in the building of the Castle, beyond the hard, perilous work of quarrying the stone. In this way, the Smithsonian appears to differ from the White House and the Capitol, which were partially built by slaves.

Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/researcher-finds-slaves-quarried-sandstone-used-to-build-smithsonian-castle/2012/12/12/381c1762-44a5-11e2-9648-a2c323a991d6_story.html

Enslaved Labor and Building the Smithsonian: Reading the Stones

Mark Auslander, Central Washington University

Published: 12 December 2012

Mark Auslander examines evidence that enslaved persons were involved in the construction of the original Smithsonian Building in Washington, D.C. Many enslaved workers who labored at the Maryland quarry from which all the building’s “freestone” or sandstone blocks were obtained had roots in enslaved families owned by Martha Custis Washington at Mt. Vernon.

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Reply Researcher finds slaves quarried sandstone used to build Smithsonian Castle (Original post)
mahatmakanejeeves Dec 2012 OP
zonkers Dec 2012 #1
Viva_La_Revolution Dec 2012 #2
Javaman Dec 2012 #4
Judi Lynn Dec 2012 #3

Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 10:21 AM

1. We must examine our past with open eyes and own it.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 11:41 AM

2. Most of DC was built by slaves

How does everyone not know this?

Posted on January 19, 2009
Slaves Built the White House, U.S. Capitol
Did you know that slaves helped build the White House and the U.S. Capitol? Or that right in front of where Barack Obama is going to take his oath of office used to be a tent city for slaves and workers?

In his book, "Black Men Built the Capitol," Jesse Holland explores the "secret history" of Washington DC and tells stories of how slavery affected the nation's capital.

In this video, Holland tells some of their stories and ends by stating that the inauguration of Barack Obama as the president of the United States "closes a circle in American history to have an African-American taking the oath of office, and becoming the most powerful person in the United States, and yet still live in a building that was built by some of the least powerful people in the United States, African-American slaves."

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 02:27 PM

3. Thanks for sharing this information. We need to know. Sad. n/t

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