An Imperfect God by Henry Wiencek

Book Report/Review
Pages 5 (1255 words)
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Theme. An Imperfect God by Henry Wiencek is about George Washington's life as a slave master where he benefited financially from slavery. However, by the final ten months of his life when his family owned more than 300 slaves, he began to contend with the thought that America - a nation that was "conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal- was upholding slavery" (p.


Wiencek's real focus in An Imperfect God is Washington's personal and political position regarding emancipation.
Summary. As told by Wiencek, Washington was born and raised among blacks and mixed-race people. He and his wife, Martha, had blood ties to the slave community. Wiencek's study of the Virginia Gazette revealed that Washington had overseen lotteries in which slaves were raffled off to liquidate the debt of their owners. It was said that slave managers of such an "appalling business" (p. 183) "had broken up families at random" (p. 180).
Washington knew his field slaves individually (p. 98), closely supervising them and his overseers on the five farms that made up his Mount Vernon estate. He was a strict taskmaster, working his slaves in the fields 16 hours a day, 6 days a week. The slaves performed countless backbreaking tasks like planting and harvesting tobacco and wheat. Typical of the cruelty and inhumanity of slavery, Washington's slaves were poorly clothed and fed, and housing conditions were grossly not enough. ...
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