Paul Johnson

Man On A Manumission

An Imperfect God: George Washington, His Slaves, And The Creation of America


Macmillan 404pp £20 order from our bookshop

GEORGE WASHINGTON WAS an indispensable war leader, an admirable president, and a good man. His compatriots proclaimed him ‘first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen’. Without him, America’s fate would have been radically different and less happy. But nowadays, the fact that he was a slave-owner is held against him. The dealings of Thomas Jefferson with slaves have been exhaustively investigated but this is the first book on Washington focuses mainly on slavery. It is sometimes unhistorical in that it tends to exhibit Washington in terms of our own notions rather than those of his day, but equally often it is illuminating and shrewd.

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