Henry Washington was a one time African-American slave of the first president of the United States, George Washington. His history and linked documents can be found on-line. Transported as a slave to America, he was bought by George Washington in 1763 to work on a project for draining the Great Dismal Swamp. He was living at Mount Vernon, caring for George Washington’s horses.
He was a saltwater slave from Africa purchased from a deceased estate in 1763 to be part of Washington’s workforce in the Great Dismal Swamp. He later went to work at one of the farms at Mt Vernon. Henry Washington from Mount Vernon had taken refuge in New York in 1771. In 1776, Henry Washington fled again to join royal Virginia governor Lord Dunmore’s Ethiopian Regiment of freed slaves.
Moving into New York in the late 1776, Washington served as corporal in a corps of Black Pioneers attached to a British artillery unit, a British forces under the Governor of Virginia Lord Dunmore’s fleet. Harry Washington was a Black Loyalist and one of the 3,000 Black Americans who were evacuated to Nova Scotia at the end of the American War of Independence and part of the first group of immigrants to what eventually became Sierra Leone. Once Sir Guy Carleton’s officials put him on the list for evacuation in the “Register of Negroes,” he started his age as forty-three and said that he had fled Mount Vernon in 1776, much earlier than 1781 with the slaves on the Savage. Under General Sir Guy Carleton’s policy, Henry Washington took a British ship to Nova Scotia (as did two other former Mount Vernon slaves, a man and a woman) and from there continued to Sierra Leone, where he planned to begin a farm making use of the scientific farming techniques he learned at Mount Vernon.
In 1800, Washington was among several hundred settlers who rose up in a brief rebellion against white rule there. The precipitating issue was one familiar from the American Revolution: taxes. The settlers were required by the Sierra Leone Company, which ran the colony for the British government, to pay taxes for the use of their land; the land itself remained the property of the company. The settles formed a provisional government and wrote up a set of laws, which they nailed to the office door of a company administrator. The company responded by sending a corps of recently arrived Jamaican blacks against the rebels. In the trails that followed the defeat of the rebellion, Henry Washington was among the rebels sentenced to banishment to another location in Sierra Leone, where he became one of the two leaders of a new settlement. He is listed as leaving New York the Book of Negroes, where he is incorrectly listed with the name Henry. He is called Harry in all other documents.
After spending a number of years in Birchtown (the largest free African-American city in North America), where he married Jenny, Washington and his wife joined the 1,192 black colonists who migrated to Sierra Leone. Washington was one of those involved in a rebellion against the colonial authorities in Sierra Leone in 1800 and was exiled to the Bullom Shore where he subsequently died. His descendants and those of other African Americans make up a portion of the Sierra Leone Creole people.