During the evening of May 21, 1976, Ona Judge slipped out of the Executive Mansion in Philadelphia, away from George and Martha Washington and in to a life of freedom. With the help of the free black community, Judge boarded a ship to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where she would marry, have three children and live in near-poverty for the next fifty years. Judge’s story went untold until she gave two newspaper interviews late in her life; an interview with the Granite Freeman in 1845 and the Liberator in 1847.
Never Caught tells the story of Ona Judge’s life and upbringing as one of Martha Washington’s most favored slaves at Mount Vernon. As a favored and trusted slave, Judge was chosen by the Washingtons to accompany them to the Executive Mansions in New York City and Philadelphia after George Washington’s election as President. Though slavery had been abolished in the northern colonies, the Washingtons took great pains to skirt the laws and keep their slaves; readers may be surprised at the contrast between the mythical figure of George Washington that we all know and the facts presented in this book. Like most slaves, not much is written about Ona Judge in the historical record, and Never Caught is a fascinating introduction to her story and examination of one woman’s resistance to slavery.