Slavery in the White House: The First President to Not Own Slaves

Emma | 07 - 06 - 2021
Presidents Owned Slaves

Slavery was a part of American history and it was also common among the presidents who ruled during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Out of the first 12 U.S presidents, the only two presidents who never owned slaves were United States 2nd president John Adams and his son John Quincy Adams, 6th U.S president.

Which Presidents Owned Slaves?

Many presidents owned slaves for their lives and none of them freed the slaves of their wills. Some presidents had a few slaves but some owned as much as they could. Each president had different attitudes towards slavery, abolition of slavery, and emancipation of slaves. George Washington owned nearly 300 bondmen at his Mount Vernon Plantation, Thomas Jefferson once said slavery as an “assemblage of horrors” had 175 enslaves. James Madison and James Monroe came from slave-owning families but had several dozens of slaves while serving as a president. Martin Van Buren owned only one slave during his early career. William Henry Harrison owned many inherited slaves even before becoming president. John Tyler had 29 slaves and James K.Polk had 56 slaves during their period as president. Zachary Taylor was the last president to keep slaves in the White House.  

The First President to Not Own Slaves

John Adams was one of the founding fathers against slavery. Adams was the first president who never owned slaves and he was considered an antislavery president. During his period Adams did not own any enslaved people; instead, he hired white and free African-American workers to provide the services. Both John Adam and his son John Quincy Adams opposed slavery morally and politically. 

How Many Slaves Did George Washington Have in His Plantation?
  • A. 100
  • B. 200
  • C. 300
  • D. 400

Did Abraham Lincoln Ever Own Slaves?

Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the U.S never owned any slaves. Lincoln grew up in a place where slavery was at its peak and he knows the pain of slavery. So, he morally and politically opposed slavery. During the Civil War, he said that he has always seen slavery as unjust. Lincoln was totally against slavery till his last breath and also took many steps to eradicate slavery. He also pressured the state to abolish slavery by refusing to return slaves who escaped from their masters.  

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