George Washington Buckner

Born enslaved, Dr. George Washington Buckner moved to Indianapolis after the Civil War, where he attended the only school for Black students in the city.  He later completed a teacher training program and taught Black students before earning a medical degree and becoming a doctor. In 1913, he accepted President Woodrow Wilson’s nomination and served as the American Minister [Ambassador] to Liberia, living there for several years. See the full document for a detailed description of Dr. George Washington Buckner’s education and career after enslavement.

In this interview, recorded in the third person, Dr. George Washington Buckner recounts how White people viewed slavery in Kentucky, his work as an enslaved person, and how he felt when his sister was sold.  
See full document • Visit the Library of Congress to see the original document


…The parents [of Dr. George Washington Buckner] were slaves and served a master not wealthy enough to provide adequately for their comforts. The mother had become invalid through the task of bearing children each year and being deprived of medical and surgical attention.

The master, Mr. Buckner, along with several of his relatives had purchased a large tract of land in Green County, Kentucky and by a custom or tradition as Dr. Buckner remembers; landowners that owned no slaves were considered “Po’ White Trash” and were scarcely recognized as citizens within the state of Kentucky.

Another tradition prevailed, that slave children should be presented to the master’s young sons and daughters and become their special property even in childhood. Adhering to that tradition the child, George Washington Buckner, became the slave of young Master Dickie Buckner, and although the two children were nearly the same age the little …[mixed race enslaved] boy was obedient to the wishes of the little master. Indeed, the slave child cared for the Caucasian boy’s clothing, polished his boots, put away his toys, and was his playmate and companion as well as his slave…

Dr. Buckner remembers that when a young daughter of his master married, his sister was given to her for a bridal gift and went away from her own mother to live in the young mistress’ new home. “It always filled us with sorrow when we were separated either by circumstances of marriage or death. Although we were not properly housed, properly nourished nor properly clothed we loved each other and loved our cabin homes and were unhappy when compelled to part.”…

Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
George Washington Buckner1852 (Unknown)Lauana CreelStanton Buckner,Dickie Buckner
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
Vanderburgh County, ININKY
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
Sold, FamilyGreen County, Third Person, Sold,