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Few people know the story of a brave woman named Charlotte Dupuy who was enslaved in Decatur House, the large brick residence that has stood on Lafayette Square at the corner of H Street and Jackson Place since 1818. In 1829, while living at Decatur House, Dupuy sued her owner, Secretary of State Henry Clay, for her freedom. Charlotte Dupuy, or "Lotty" as she was known, felt that Clay was obligated to uphold an agreement she had with her previous owner to free her and her two children, Charles and Mary Ann. Clay's tenure as the Secretary of State ended before the case was decided, so Clay was instructed by the Circuit Court to leave Dupuy behind in Washington, though he took her husband and children back to Kentucky with him. Charlotte Dupuy continued to live in Decatur House and was employed by the home's next resident, Secretary of State Martin Van Buren.

The Court ultimately ruled against Dupuy and she was forcibly taken to the New Orleans residence of Clay's daughter and, eventually, to Clay's Kentucky estate. In 1840, eleven years after her lawsuit, Henry Clay freed Charlotte Dupuy.

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