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|Format: DRM Protected ePub|
Publication Date: 2014
This short memoir details Paul Jenning’s memories and impressions of the fourth President of the United States, James Madison. Jennings was born into slavery and in his childhood was trained as a body servant and footman to James Madison. When Madison was elected, Jennings travelled with him to the White House, and his experiences there were translated into this narrative after he purchased his freedom years later.
Published in 1865, A Colored Man's Reminiscences of James Madison was the first White House memoir to be published. The memoir is still studied by American historians today, and is considered an important source speaking to social history, American politics and the nature of slavery in the nineteenth century.
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Paul Jennings was an American slave (later freed) who served as footman and body servant to President James Madison. When Madison was elected, the ten-year-old Jennings accompanied him to the White House. Jennings served Madison over the course of his two terms as President and after, until Madison’s death in 1836. Madison’s widow, Dolley Madison, inherited Jennings and he was forced to move with her, separating him from his wife and children. Dolley eventually found herself struggling financially and she attempted to sell Jennings. Daniel Webster, the famous U.S. senator, purchased Jennings from Mrs. Madison, giving him his freedom in exchange for work. As a freeman, Jennings worked to help other African Americans escape slavery, and eventually he was able to reunite with his children. In 1865 he published his memoir A Coloured Man’s Reminiscences of James Madison which has since become an important document in early American history.