The Paul Jennings story
A Slave in the White House
News and book reviews
Paul Jennings descendants

“Scholars and general readers alike
will not be able to put this remarkable book down.”

-- Drew McCoy, author of
The Last of the Fathers: James Madison and the Republican Legacy


A Slave in the White House: Paul Jennings and the Madisons

by Elizabeth Dowling Taylor
with Foreword by Annette Gordon-Reed
Published by Palgrave Macmillan, January 2012

The story of . . .

  • the first White House memoirist and his unique journey from slavery to freedom played out in the highest circles of ideas and power.
  • the complicated relationship between James Madison, the Father of the Constitution, and his enslaved manservant.
  • the even more complicated relationship between Jennings and the widowed Dolley Madison who broke her promise to free him; and of the New England senator, Daniel Webster, who stepped in to aid Jennings by lending him his purchase price.
  • Jennings’s efforts to help 77 still-enslaved men, women and children reach freedom in the grandest-scale-ever attempted slave escape.
  • a vital antebellum African-American community in the nation’s new capital that included ex-slaves of Presidents Washington, Jefferson and Madison.

It is a story . . .

  • that has never been told.
  • whose time for telling is now.
  • based on original research, newly-discovered documents, and telling oral histories from Paul Jennings’s descendants.