Monday, February 20, 2012

President's Day - Hercules

I am home after a trip to New York City to visit a dear childhood friend.  I will be blogging more about my visit to New York City in the coming days.

It was nice leaving the City on a holiday - not much traffic (comparatively) and road work projects had the day off, too.

The holiday President's Day is still officially a celebration of George Washington's birthday.  For my readers living outside the United States, George Washington was our first president.  In his day, slavery was legal and George Washington, in fact, kept slaves (as did some of our other "founding fathers".  This is a fact that should not be "swept under the rug" and should not be surprising.  People are a product of the culture of the time. Slavery was a part of that culture.  Very wrong, but it existed.

One of George Washington's slaves was Hercules, who eventually ran away (on Washington's 65th birthday). For part of part of his captivity, Hercules was the head of Washington's kitchen - in other words, a chef.  He became a celebrity chef in Washington's household in the city of Philadelphia.  The story of Hercules is quite fascinating, and worth reading on this President's Day.  If you can imagine a celebrity chef of the day - oh, let's think someone like one of the Iron Chefs- as being a slave, this is something few of us could wrap our arms around.

Apparently (this is not proven), after escaping his captivity, Hercules made his way to New York City.  After Washington's death, he was freed and was no longer an official fugitive.  But the wife he left behind belonged to Washington's wife, and was not freed.  She ended her life still a slave.

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