Select from list of games
Multicultural Education through Miniatures banner

Photo of Barbados woman with coconut head George Washington Visits Barbados

My name is Matilda, and I was a slave on a beautiful plantation over 250 years ago. I lived on the island of Barbados, which is in the Caribbean. Way back in 1750, the master of the house spoke with a British accent. All of the slaves had been brought to Barbados from Africa by the British. The master of the house was named Captain Crofton. He commanded James Fort, the fort that protected Barbados from invaders. He was a kind man and treated all of his slaves very well. I never say him beating his slaves. However, I know that slave masters on some other plantations whipped their slaves.

The house that I lived in was very large with two stories. From the windows, I could see the small wooden houses (called chattels) where the poor people lived. There were many poor living in Barbados, and most of them were either fishermen or sugarcane farmers. Yet, with all this poverty, the British described the island as the richest spot in the world. That was because Barbados made England quite wealthy with the sugar harvests. Barbados was also the most populated of Britain's many colonies.

One day, the master told us that we needed to prepare the house for two very important guests from Virginia. There were many slaves in the house, and we worked hard dusting the furniture and setting the large dining room table with beautiful plates. The tall water glasses sparkled in the bright sunlight that came through the windows. The candles in the ceiling would soon be lit, and I imagined how the room would glow in the candlelight.

When the house was ready for our two guests, Captain Crofton told us that the two gentlemen were half brothers. Lawrence, the older guest, was sick with tuberculosis (lung disease). Since Barbados had a good climate for lung ailments, Lawrence wrote to Captain Crofton and asked if he and his brother George could stay at the house. George was nineteen years old at the time.

When I first set eyes on Lawrence and George Washington, I was quite impressed. Lawrence's complexion was pale compared to his younger brother. I noted that Lawrence coughed a lot and spoke with a very raspy voice. George looked healthy, although he had a very large nose.

The dinner was a complete success. The captain told me that I would be George's servant as long as he stayed on Barbados. Early the next day, I was told to pack a lunch and ride in a wagon behind George as he explored the island. As George galloped along the countryside, he noted how well the land was cared for. He realized that not all of the plots of soil were being planted. As I served him lunch, I told George that those unplanted acres were actually resting because they had recently been harvested. In order for that land to bring forth another good crop, the Bajans allowed it to lie dormant for several months. George hoped to own land one day and said he would remember this method for the future.

George Washington stayed in Barbados for 4 months. He visited Bridgetown often and loved the busy streets where vegetables and fruit markets, meat stalls, blacksmiths shops, rum houses, fish stalls, and slave markets could be seen. A few weeks before he was to return to Virginia, a tragedy occurred. George came down with smallpox, which caused him severe pain and a burning fever. He recovered from this horrible, killer disease, but it left him with a deeply pitted nose. In one way, he was fortunate, for it gave him immunity to the disease that would be the number one killer during the American Revolution.

In 1751, George said goodbye to all those who had treated him so kindly in Barbados. George did not realize it at the time, but this would be the only voyage he would ever take away from the future United States. He left his half brother in Barbados and headed for Virginia. I stood on the dock and watched him leave. I had no idea that this kind young man would someday become the first President of the United States.

Map of Barbados. Bridgetown is the capital.

Map of Barbados. Bridgetown is the capital.

Home | Photo #1 | Photo #2 | Photo #3 | Photo #4 | List | Map | Games | About