And when he learned Oney was in Portsmouth, Washington dispatched a federal customs officer to fetch the her—breaking a fugitive slave law he himself had signed.
Fearing riots by Abolitionists, the customs officer refused to return Oney to her master.
Washington next tried to get her back by hiring his nephew to kidnap her. But the runaway was tipped off to the plan and went into hiding until Washington's death.
She lived for another 50 years as a fugitive in Portsmouth, raising three children on the wages of a house servant.