PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A young slave in Philadelphia continues to inspire generations later as her tale is celebrated during March, which is Women’s History Month.
Her name was Oney Judge and she managed to escape from the home of George and Martha Washington.
Judge was just 23 when she escaped from her owners, the most powerful couple in the United States.
“The bravery. The fearlessness just inspires me continuously,” Gina Gilliam with Independence National Historical Park told Eyewitness News.
Judge was born a slave in 1773 and traveled everywhere with the Washingtons. When George Washington was president, he lived at the corner of Sixth and Market Streets. While the Washingtons ate dinner one night, Judge made her great escape.
“She planned for her escape carefully. She had packed her things. Snuck them out of the house days in advance,” Jed Levin, chief historian with Independence National Historical Park said.
She did it with the help of many black citizens living in freedom.
“Essentially it was an underground railroad before there was an Underground Railroad” Levin said.
President Washington was so determined to get Oney back, he had an ad placed in a local Philadelphia newspaper. On May 23, 1796, the ad appeared in the paper. The reward was just ten dollars. Oney Judge never returned or saw the Washingtons again.
“She was able to slip out really unnoticed and by the time they did notice she was already on a ship going north,” Park Ranger Adam Duncan said.
Judge lived out her days in New Hampshire. She died in 1848, after 52 years of freedom.
“I’m just so pleased that she was able to live her life out as a free woman,” Gilliam said.