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Pearl Affair Site

At Seventh & Water Streets, SW, in Washington, DC, there is now a Southwest Heritage Trail Marker. It represents the site of departure of The Pearl as part of Cultural Tourism DC’s efforts to document the city’s history. In 1848 there occurred a large and celebrated attempted escape of bondsmen on a ship The Pearl, sailing down the Potomac River for Frenchtown, Maryland. The ship started from the steamship wharf. Over 70 freedom seekers were on board. The plan had been to dock at Frenchtown and travel north. Free and hired-out enslaved workers in DC planned the escape with the connivance and support of white abolitionists. Unfortunately, the attempt failed. Many freedom seekers involved were purchased by slave traders, like Hope Slatter of Baltimore and Bruin & Hill of Alexandria, for sale further south. A few lucky freedom seekers were redeemed and returned to DC, like the Edmonsons and Ellen Seward. The ship's two captains, Edward Sayres and Daniel Drayton, were convicted, fined, and sentenced to jail until receiving a post-Civil War pardon.

Visitor Information: Currently open to public.

Location: 7th & Water Streets, SW, Washington, N/A, 20000

National Park Unit: No

Ownership: Ken Laden

Location Type: Site

People/Organizations Associated with the site: Bruin & Hill of Alexandria (Slave Trader),Daniel Drayton (Captain),Edward Sayres (Captain),Hope Slatter (Slave Trader),John Hale (Politician),Joshua Giddings (Politician)

Freedom Seekers: Ellen Seward,The Edmonsons (DC, 1848)