Taking Liberty

Taking Liberty

The Story of Oney Judge, George Washington's Runaway Slave

For Ages: 12 and up
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When I was four and my daddy left, I cried, but I understood. He had become part of the Gone.

Oney Judge is a slave. But on the plantation of Mount Vernon, the beautiful home of George and Martha Washington, she is not called a slave. She is referred to as a servant, and a house servant at that -- a position of influence and respect. When she rises to the position of personal servant to Martha Washington, her status among the household staff -- black or white -- is second to none. She is Lady Washington's closest confidante and for all intents and purposes, a member of the family -- or so she thinks.
Slowly, Oney's perception of her life with the Washingtons begins to crack as she realizes the truth: No matter what it's called, it's still slavery and she's still a slave.
Oney must make a choice. Does she stay where she is -- comfortable, with this family that has loved her and nourished her and owned her since the day she was born? Or does she take her liberty -- her life -- into her own hands, and like her father, become one of the Gone?
Told with immense power and compassion, Taking Liberty is the extraordinary true story of one young woman's struggle to take what is rightfully hers.
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  • Simon Pulse | 
  • 272 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780689851889 | 
  • January 2004 | 
  • Grades 7 and up
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One
1775
Mount Vernon, VA

One day when I was three, my mama took me by the hand and dragged me to the slope of lawn that ran down to the river in front of the mansion house.

It didn't even have the piazza on yet. There was lumber and stone to one end, and builders working. She put her hand on the back of my neck, the way you hold a chicken just before you're about to chop its head off.

"You see that house, Oney Judge?" she said to me. "Do you?"

Well, I saw it, all right. For me and all the other little children on the place it was always in our line of sight. Like the Throne of Grace the mistress was... see more

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