"The planters, to be sure, are rich in lands, and having so many negroes to labor for them live in all the luxury, ease, and ...affluence."
Thomas Hill Hubbard, December 29, 1817
Visitors in the early 1800s would have observed that the majority of Woodlawn's residents were enslaved. With their ancestors originating in western Africa, these individuals were held in bondage as part of a system prevalent in Virginia from its time as an English colony until the Civil War. Historians are challenged in telling the stories of these unique peoples, as few written accounts about them exist, and then only in the records of their masters. Research into the lives of all the people at Woodlawn is ongoing, revealing a complex intermixture of black and white, free and slave, and gentry and middling class people.
Like their gentry counterparts, the enslaved people of Woodlawn had their own families, with many relatives nearby at Mount Vernon, Arlington House and Tudor Place. This rare-sketch depicts an enslaved man named Lawrence Parks, husband and father of eleven, held at Arlington.