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The Invisibles: The Untold Story of African American Slaves in the White House by Jesse Holland

January 15, 2016

invisiblesTHE INVISIBLES is the first book to tell the story of the executive mansion’s most unexpected residents, the African American slaves who lived with the U.S. presidents who owned them.

THE INVISIBLES chronicles the African American presence inside the White House from its beginnings in 1782 until 1862, when President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation that granted slaves their freedom. During these years, slaves were the only African Americans to whom the most powerful men in the United States were exposed on a daily, and familiar, basis. By reading about these often-intimate relationships, readers will better understand some of the views that various presidents held about class and race in American society, and how these slaves contributed not only to the life and comforts of the presidents they served, but to America as a whole.

Jesse J. Holland is the author of Black Men Built the Capitol: Discovering African American History In and Around Washington, D.C. (Globe Pequot, 2007) and a longtime Washington correspondent for The Associated Press.  Holland is a sought after-speaker and regular guest on CNN, NBC, Fox News, PBS, C-SPAN’s Washington Journal and ABC’s News Now. He has lectured at universities and institutions like Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York City.

THE INVISIBLES is available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble and your local indie bookstore.


‘Jesse J. Holland’s riveting book The Invisibles shines a long overdue light on the enslaved men and women who were forced to serve in the nation’s seat of executive power—The White House. Not only does Holland reveal this ugly chapter of American history with sharp analysis and insight, he reveals the blatant hypocrisy of the nation’s presidents and other leaders in permitting such a system of forcible servitude to exist. More importantly, he brings to life the stories and experiences of this group of nearly forgotten African Americans, who showed remarkable courage and resilient character despite being imprisoned by slavery in the heart of the so-called ‘land of the free.’’
–J.D. Dickey, author of Empire of Mud: The Secret History of Washington, DC

“Jesse J. Holland makes visible the courage, expertise and fortitude of the slaves held by U.S. presidents. Holland’s contribution to a complete history of our complex nation is one worth savoring.”
–Donna Bryson, author of It’s A Black White Thing

“Jesse Holland’s The Invisibles uncovers White House secrets certain Presidents surely would have kept buried. Those Presidents who owned human beings and those who rejected slavery will come as a surprise. The Invisibles is a revealing journey for all readers. This is American history told well.”
–Gloria J. Browne-Marshall, author of The U.S. Constitution: An African-American Context and Race, Law, and American Society: 1607 to Present

“If you want to know the real history of the White House or the U.S. presidency, you must read Jesse Holland’s The Invisibles. He not only writes in crisp and engaging prose, but Holland has done the extensive research necessary to bring to life the slaves who toiled in anonymity for the nation’s early presidents, sharing quarters in the executive mansion with some of the most powerful men in the world.”
–Del Quentin Wilber, author of Rawhide Down: The Near Assassination of Ronald Reagan

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