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Bob Arnebeck Discusses “Slave Labor in the Capital” | News Release | City of Alexandria


Slave Labor in the Capital: Building Washington’s Iconic Federal Landmarks


Contact:          Audrey Davis, (703) 746-4706, Audrey.davis@alexandriava.gov


Details:            October 28, 2015; 7:30 PM; The Lyceum — Alexandria’s History Museum



When people think of the landmarks that symbolize our nation’s capital, they usually think of the White House and the U. S. Capitol itself . . . icons and monuments to freedom, as well as practical working buildings.  Few realize, however, that both of those buildings were constructed by work crews that were made up of many enslaved laborers.  Whether it was clearing the site on which Washington would be built, or processing the building materials themselves, slaves provided much of the labor that began the Federal City.  From his exhaustive research into the commissioner’s records, Bob Arnebeck has crafted a narrative that colorfully tells this story.  He shares that story with us in a lecture and book-signing event on October 28 at The Lyceum — Alexandria’s History Museum.

Born in Washington, D.C., in 1947, Arnebeck graduated from Montgomery Blair High School in 1965 and then Beloit College in 1969.  He worked for the American Revolution Bicentennial Commission, and then began a career as a freelance writer, as well as commenting on a variety of historical topics for National Public Radio.  His book projects have included Proust’s Last Beer: A History of Curious Demises . . . Through A Fiery Trial: Building Washington 1790-1800 . . . and research on Benjamin Rush and the yellow fever epidemics of the 1790’s.  He continues to write on Washington area history in both online pieces and in his latest book, Slave Labor in the Capital: Building Washington’s Iconic Federal Landmarks.

The program is offered by the Alexandria Historical Society, and is free to members; $5 for non-members.  Light refreshments will be served, and books will be available for signing and purchase after the program.

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