build the White House?
Construction on the President's House began in 1792 in Washington,
D.C., a new capital situated in sparsely settled region far from a
major population center. The decision to place the capital on land
ceded by two slave states-Virginia and Maryland-ultimately influenced
the acquisition of laborers to construct its public buildings. The
D.C. commissioners, charged by Congress with building the new city
under the direction of the president, initially planned to import
workers from Europe to meet their labor needs. However, response to
recruitment was dismal and soon they turned to African Americans -
slave and free - to provide the bulk of labor that built the White
House, the United States Capitol, and other early government buildings.
Please click the "Timeline" on our main History page, then
select the "African-Americans" choice to learn more about
African American contributions to White House History.