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Fri Nov 27, 2020, 12:24 PM

George Washington's 1795 Thanksgiving celebrated liberty. But the chef behind the feast had none.

I remember reading that earlier (linked) article about this man.

George Washington’s 1795 Thanksgiving celebrated liberty. But the chef behind the feast had none.


Genre painter Eastman Johnson's “Washington's Kitchen, Mount Vernon” (1864). (Eastman Johnson/Gavin Ashworth/Mount Vernon)

By Ramin Ganeshram
November 19, 2020 at 12:00 p.m. EST

On the third Thursday of February 1795, President George Washington proclaimed a day of national thanksgiving to thank God “for the Constitutions of Government which unite and by their union establish liberty.”

The second such proclamation by Washington, it called for a religious rather than a feasting holiday, and that day’s menu is unknown. As a regular night for the Congress dinners hosted by the president, it would have been presided over by Washington’s cook, Hercules Posey — a chef so notable that he was famous in his own time. Yet, the liberty Washington extolled was not something Posey enjoyed: He was enslaved.

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Ganeshram is executive director of the Westport Museum for History and Culture and author of a novel about Hercules Posey, “The General’s Cook.”

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