Thomas Jefferson purchased Cary (surname unknown) from his brother, Randolph Jefferson in 1797. Cary worked as a nailer and charcoal-burner. In 1803, fellow nailboy Brown Colbert hid Cary’s nailrod, and Cary responded by smashing a hammer on Brown Colbert’s skull. Colbert recovered but Cary was sold, likely to “negro purchasers from Georgia,” Jefferson wrote, “to make an example of him in terrorem to others, in order to maintain the police so rigorously necessary among the nail boys.”
This account is compiled from Lucia Stanton, "Those Who Labor for My Happiness:" Slavery at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello (University of Virginia Press and Thomas Jefferson Foundation, 2012).
Slavery at Jefferson's Monticello: Paradox of Liberty
Visit our exhibition at the Smithsonian and its companion website. In Washington, D.C. through October 14, 2012 and online. More »