“Volumes tell how he fathered a nation. Only iUniverse let me tell how he fathered a slave,” proclaimed a two-page advertisement that appeared in the New York Times Book Review, on Sunday, February 20. The advertisement promoted Linda Allen Bryant’s I Cannot Tell A Lie. Published in 2004, Bryant’s book tells the story of how George Washington, the nation’s first president, fathered his one and only child through a slave. The headline was certainly eye-catching, as intended. But was the claim off the wall?
According to Linda Allen Bryant, Washington initiated a sexual relationship with a female slave named Venus around 1784. Her claim is based on her family’s two hundred year old oral history and on conspicuous evidence showing that the Washington family afforded special treatment to West Ford. Bryant, a direct descendent of West Ford, points to correspondence between George and his brother, John Augustine, to argue that George Washington visited his brother’s plantation in 1784, and that a gap in Washington’s personal diary that year could account for a sexual liaison during this visit.
Mason & Dixon, p. 572:
"Eeh!" Washington grabbing Mason.
"Colonel, Sir," twitching away, "'twould be far preferable,- "
"That voice, Mason! 'tis my Tithable, Gershom!"