Honoring the enslaved people who resisted bondage in ways large and small: Juneteenth 2021

Photo: Tudor Place Archive, A1.305

A day known as Emancipation Day or Freedom Day, Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865 when Union troops brought news of emancipation to Texas, ending slavery in the US. As a historic site that bears the scars of slavery, Tudor Place also remembers the enslaved people who resisted bondage in ways large and small.  John Luckett, the Tudor Place gardener for 44 years, shared his self-emancipation story with his employer, Armistead Peter Jr.:

“I was a slave…at Lewinsville, Va. That evening, a bunch of Yankees came along…The following morning, I was ordered to drive a pair of mules that were hitched to an army wagon. In the afternoon, we could hear the booming of the guns at Bull Run…Three of us deserted. We traveled at night and hid in the day-time, for we had no passes to be on the road. One night, when we were near Lewinsville, a bunch of Yankees picked us up and took us to headquarters…Fortunately, they let us go…I just kept on…” 

Click here to learn about John Luckett and others who worked at Tudor Place.

Click here to learn about slavery at Tudor Place.

Click here to learn more about emancipation in the District of Columbia.

For questions or more information, please contact us at education@tudoplace.org.

Enslaved Labor and Building the Smithsonian

· Enslaved and Free ·

Historian Mark Auslander details the roles of enslaved workers in building the original Smithsonian “castle.” Some of the slave workers involved labored at Maryland quarries owned by Peter family members and had roots in enslaved families owned by First Lady Martha Custis Washington, who bequeathed 90 such “dower slaves” to Martha Custis Peter, original owner of Tudor Place. Tudor Place Archivist Wendy Kail assisted with this essay on the darker history of an iconic national institution.


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Free and Enslaved in Early 19th-Century Georgetown: Mapping African-American Community Ties

Building on prior research commissioned by Tudor Place, a 2012-2013 project funded by the D.C. Humanities Council sheds new light on the lives of free and enslaved African-Americans in the early 1800s in Georgetown and the region, a period in which economic forces led to sales of many enslaved individuals. The research shows clearly how lives of the enslaved and their owners intertwined and sheds new light on human ownership and trade by the Peter family. It also maps Georgetown sites central to African-American community life.

· Enslaved and Free ·

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The Slavery Code of the District of Columbia

· Enslaved and Free ·

Held in the Library of Congress, this comprehensive compendium reprises the full text, judicial decisions, and commentary on regulations governing slavery in the District and Maryland up until D.C. Emancipation in 1862.

  • View the document


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District of Columbia Emancipation Act

· Enslaved and Free ·

Held in the National Archives and signed on April 16, 1862, the law required the release from bondage of “ all persons held to service or labor within the District of Columbia by reason of African descent,” and the manner in which their owners, if willing to swear allegiance to the Union, could obtain government compensation for the loss of human “property.”


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