A Slave in the White House: Paul Jennings and the Madisons by Elizabeth Dowling Taylor

By Elizabeth Dowling Taylor

Paul Jennings was once born into slavery at the plantation of James and Dolley Madison in Virginia, later turning into a part of the Madison loved ones employees on the White residence. as soon as ultimately emancipated through Senator Daniel Webster later in lifestyles, he might supply an elderly and impoverished Dolley Madison, his former proprietor, cash from his personal pocket, write the 1st White residence memoir, and notice his sons struggle with the Union military within the Civil warfare. He died a loose guy in northwest Washington at seventy five. in keeping with correspondence, felony files, and magazine entries not often noticeable sooner than, this outstanding portrait of the days finds the mores and attitudes towards slavery of the 19th century, and sheds new gentle on well-known characters comparable to James Madison, who believed the white and black populations couldn't coexist as equals; French basic Lafayette who was once appalled via this concept; Dolley Madison, who ruthlessly offered Paul after her husband's loss of life; and lots of different due to the fact that forgotten slaves, abolitionists, and civil correct activists.

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So I thought I’d go wake him up, make him play some! I went up to his room. He was lying there with corn pads on his toes, and I woke him up, and he says, ‘Oh, really! Well wait. ’ He just loved to play. And he just jumped into his clothes right quick and came downstairs and started to blowing. Man! ’ He loved the give-and-take of a jam session, where he could take turns with other players, test himself and swap musical ideas. A jam session was a mixture of social event, competitive examination and educational experience, and it was strictly for insiders.

He seems to have taken up with a white woman called Bess Cooper, by whom he had a daughter, named Beverly. No documents survive, but an interview with Beverly, then aged fifty-four, was featured in the Minneapolis Star & Tribune of 25 August 1985. In it, she says that her mother, Bess, died soon after giving birth to her and that she had been brought up by foster parents. She recalls her father with great affection, and claims that he kept in 2 the territory 19 touch with her until the end of his life, visited her whenever he could, bought her a piano, and even took her on tour with him occasionally.

Simon, reviewing a live broadcast from the Grand Terrace for Metronome magazine, was particularly trenchant: ‘If you think the sax section sounds out of tune, catch the brass! And if you think the brass by itself is out of tune, catch the intonation of the band as a whole!! ’8 By dint of much rehearsal, and with the help of a pile of arrangements generously lent by Horace Henderson, Fletcher’s brother, matters gradually improved, but some problems were endemic. Musicians who had scarcely been earning a living wage could not afford new instruments, nor could they pay for the professional maintenance of those they had.

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