marry was born into slavery on the plantation o Erasmus Taylor,Frances’s brother.
But that union was two decades in the uture,unknown o course to the little boy and his mother that winter day; she perhaps holding his hand but hoping not to transmit her anxiety over what might happen next, or the death o a slave master was always a time o tension or “his people.” They would have little control over decisions about their utures, including the ates o their nearest amily members.
Paul Jennings had a close relationship with
his mother, not an anchor every slave could count on. In his survivingletters, he reerred to her as “mother” or “my mother,” never revealing aname; she lived well into her son’s middle age. The preace o
A Colored Man’s Reminiscences o James Madison
states that Jennings was born aslave on James Madison’s plantation in 1799. Both Paul Jennings and James Madison had their roots at Montpelier, but only Jennings wasborn there; in 1751 Madison’s mother had chosen to give birth to herrst child at her mother’s home in Virginia’s Northern Neck. Jennings’smother was a Madison slave, the granddaughter o an Indian; his ather was a white merchant named Benjamin or William Jennings. Whatrole, i any, did his ather play on the plantation or in the local com-munity? Was he passing through, an itinerant merchant perhaps, ordid he have a sustained relationship with Paul’s mother? I he was moreto Paul than the paternal progenitor rom whence his surname and hal his genetic makeup were derived, there is no hint o it in the historicalrecord.
It must have been his mother who told Paul about the Native American ancestry they shared.The move by James Madison Sr., his wie Nelly, and their growingamily to the new brick dwelling took place in the early 1760s. Their
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