Hercules was enslaved by the first President of the United States George Washington from birth, circa 1755, until he escaped on February 22, 1797, Washington’s 65th birthday. In 1801 Hercules was manumitted in accordance with Washington’s will.
In November 1790 the presidential mansion was moved to Philadelphia. President Washington was dissatisfied with the cooks in New York so he brought his enslaved cook, Hercules, with him to Philadelphia.
Hercules generated a yearly salary of $100 - $200 by selling leftovers from the presidential kitchen. He was venerated in Philadelphia for his culinary skills and flamboyant attire. He walked down Market Street with a gold headed cane as people greeted him with great respect and awe.