New Residence Hall at James Madison University Will Honor Paul Jennings Who Was Enslaved

James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, announced that a new residence hall at the university will be named after Paul Jennings, who was an enslaved person in the home of James Madison. Paul Jennings Hall will have a capacity for housing 500 students on campus.

Jennings was the personal “manservant” for James Madison on his estate in Virginia and also in Washington, D.C.  After Madison’s death, Jennings secured his freedom and worked in the U.S. Pension Office. Jennings was the author of A Colored Man’s Reminiscences of James Madison. He died in 1874 at the age of 75.

Jonathan R. Alger, president of James Madison University stated that “as we continue to recognize Madison’s pivotal role in the founding of our country, as an institution, we must also confront that Madison profited from the ownership of slaves. Paul Jennings was an important historical figure in his own right, and overcame hardship to leave an impressive legacy. Naming what will be a vibrant hub of student activity after Paul Jennings allows us to provide important and inclusive context to the complex story of James Madison.”

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