After the passage of the Gradual Emancipation Act in 1784, Connecticut slave owners were required by law to teach their slaves to read and write. In this portrait of Sarah Isaacs Bush (1742-1824), wife of Greenwich's largest slave holder, David Bush, Sarah holds a book, a sign of her literacy as well as her likely role as instructor for her children and the slaves in her household. Sarah Bush was required by the 1784 law to teach her slaves to read and write as a means of guaranteeing their economic viability after manumission. The portrait hangs in the Bush-Holley House in her bedroom.
Image: William Dunlap, Sarah Isaacs Bush , 1818. The Historical Society of the Town of Greenwich. Gift of Mrs. Edward S. Lloyd.