Chef Hercules Posey
Because his status in the kitchen often confuses people into believing that he had an easier life, than those who worked outside in the field. This is not so. The work of the cook was extremely taxing, mentally and emotionally, because they worked under extreme conditions, and they worked under the watchful eye of the master and his “mistress Miss Mrs.” The Cook had to perform at a high-level at all times, and he could not mess up or make mistakes.
He had to hold it together under extreme pressure despite inhumane treatment and manage the staff while meeting the high standard of the people who owned him. Enslaved cooks worked constantly all day and it was a 24-hour day seven days a week job.
George Washington took great pains to circumvent the Pennsylvania law known as the 1780 Gradual Abolition Law that emancipated enslaved persons remaining in the commonwealth for more than six months. Washington made sure that Posey and 9 other enslaved Africans would never be able to become emancipated under the Pennsylvania law and kept Posey and nine other enslaved Africans with him in Philadelphia and the condition of bondage. He did this by rotating Posey and the others out of the city into pro-slavery states like New Jersey across the Delaware river and or back to Virginia.
On February 22, 1797. Chef Posey walked away from Mount Vernon and turned up four years later in New York City where he worked as a cook and caterer until his death on May 15, 1812.