Never Caught

Never Caught

The Washingtons' Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge

Book - 2017
Average Rating:
Rate this:
"A revelatory account of the actions taken by the first president to retain his slaves in spite of Northern laws profiles one of the slaves, Ona Judge, describing the intense manhunt that ensued when she ran away,"--NoveList.
Publisher: New York : 37 Ink/Atria, 2017
Edition: First 37 InkAtria Books hardcover edition
ISBN: 9781501126390
Call Number: 306.362 D911n
Characteristics: xvii, 253 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm


From Library Staff

2017 National Book Award nominee. A startling, well-researched slave narrative that seriously questions the intentions of our first president.

From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Jun 29, 2019

I have to give Dunbar a lot credit for recreating this story w/ scant recorded evidence. Three cheers for Ona Judge! I think that telling of these stories of enslaved people helps to educate us all of the horrors of slavery. I felt this book was at times redundant. Overall the story was imaginative and gave factual evidence whenever possible. it leaves you wanting to know more details :)

Jul 13, 2018

This hidden history deserved better and was undoubtedly well researched. But where were the editors?? Some episodes began with the summary and ended with the details. Also, The word "breach" was spelled "breech" at least twice. I'm writing this because I'm getting increasingly tired of spelling errors and careless editing.

Sep 02, 2017

This book was a page turner; strongly recommended. Was led to it by "Ties that Bound: Founding First Ladies' Slaves," by Marie Jenkins Schwartz, another 2017 book that referred, briefly, to Ona Judge, her escape, and the Washingtons' efforts to retrieve her. Ona didn't belong to George, but was Martha's "dower slave." She was part of the estate of Martha's first husband, and would, at Martha's death, belong to his heirs. If they couldn't retrieve her, they would have to repay her value to that estate. And the Washingtons were broke. He was at the end of his second term, planning to retire. He did not want a scandal as he left the Presidency. Ona had been living with the Washingtons in Philly, the nation's capital at the time, where there were many more free blacks than slaves. She'd seen what freedom looked like and probably knew how to get help. Martha told Ona she was giving her to one of her granddaughters as a wedding present. Ona knew this granddaughter, who was a much more difficult person to work for than Martha. Her new husband had a bad reputation, whereas George had left Ona alone sexually. Ona had plenty of reasons to run, in spite of the danger. I got the impression that after Washington got back to Mt. Vernon, tired and ill, he let it go. It was mostly Martha's fight, and she died not long after he did. The two interviews Ona gave to Abolitionist newspapers shortly before she died led Dunbar to other info on Judge.

Aug 01, 2017

A good book, should be more widely read. The author sticks pretty close to known, provable facts, but there were times I wish she would have gone more into historical fiction, to fill in gaps and make the book a little less dry. Also, there's a lot made of how the Washington's pursued her for years and I was looking for what all they did to track her down and there really wasn't much there. Yes, they made efforts for a time and she missed being returned because of her own gut feeling, but the Washington's gave up after a while. The author makes readers feel for her, how she ended up leading a lonely, hard life, but she was free.

ArapahoeRachel Jul 08, 2017

Ona Judge weighed the price of freedom against the weight of bondage. There is no picture-perfect ending here, but the fight for her freedom left Judge with her head held high.

ArapahoeLesley Apr 11, 2017

A fascinating story and a disconcerting look into what we too often gloss over when we look back at early american history and the 'founding fathers'. Unfortunately the lack of much surviving evidence leads to a lot of conjecture which was much of the time logical and well stated but became overwhelmingly prevalent and somewhat distracting. The most fascinating aspect was the individual states history as concerns abolition.


Add a Summary
May 20, 2019

This book was very informative and interesting. It kept me captive from the first page.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at SFPL

To Top