The Hubbard Brothers

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Making Hard Decisions: Running Away

If you were enslaved at Monticello, would you have run away? Explore this and other challenges faced by Monticello's slaves.
A selection of nails excavated at Monticello.
Thomas Jefferson Foundation
Rose head nail.
Thomas Jefferson Foundation
Thomas Jefferson Foundation
Lath nail.
Thomas Jefferson Foundation
Nail waster.
Thomas Jefferson Foundation

Though their family lived at Jefferson’s Poplar Forest plantation, brothers James and Philip Hubbard were brought to Monticello in their early teens to work in the nailery. In later years, both were runaways, but for different reasons.

In 1805, with money he had saved, James purchased forged “free papers” and new clothing. He set out on foot for Washington but was apprehended outside the city, when his papers were spotted as forgeries. Like most Virginia slaves, without access to education, he didn't recognize what poor forgeries they were. He left again six years later, remaining at large for over a year, and was sold by Jefferson.

Philip Hubbard also ran away: from Poplar Forest to Monticello to ask Jefferson to intervene with an overseer so he and his wife could live together.


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