A book for young adults and teens

By His Side, a work of historical fiction, tells the story of George Washington and his enslaved valet, William Lee. Set at Mount Vernon during the last three days of Washington’s life the book explores Washington’s changing views of slavery, his flashbacks to events that took place during the Revolutionary War and the part that William Lee played in those events. By His Side also looks at these subjects through the eyes of William Lee. He remembers being bought by General Washington, being made head of the fox hunt, riding beside the General during the Revolution, carrying his spyglass, combing his hair and hearing decisions made that would affect battles.

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"My hope is that this work will help us take a step closer to understanding slavery and the scars the system left on our country,” says Jinny Powers Berten of her poignant historical novel By His Side: The Story of George Washington and William Lee (Fountain Square Publishing). At its core, the book tells the story of two men — a slave owner and his slave — and the bond that develops between them in spite of the underlying inequality of their stations.
As George Washington lay dying at his Mount Vernon plantation, the slave William Lee, who served as his valet during many history-defining moments in Washington’s life, is summoned to his bed. William saluted the General and former President. “Washington returned the salute and William took his hand,” writes Berten. “There was not a dry eye in the room as enslaved and free watched two men who for different reasons depended on each other, two men who had found mutual respect in a world where that rarely happened between master and slave.”
By His Side documents the last few days of Washington’s life, from overseeing the business of running the plantation to the sudden and quick onset of the illness that would be his demise. During the book’s “present” time, Washington reflects on some of the monumental events that defined his life: crossing the Delaware, the battle of Yorktown, the British surrender. Simultaneously, the author tracks William Lee and documents the life of a slave under Washington from a slave’s perspective."

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