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Old City Hall

The Washington, D.C. [DC], building at Judiciary Square is associated with the Underground Railroad as the site of the trials of Daniel Drayton and Edward Sayres, captains of the ship The Pearl, in which over 70 freedom seekers attempted to escape from enslavement in the DC area in 1848. Both captains were convicted and sent to prison. Many freedom seekers were sold to slave traders. The history of this attempted escape and of the captains' and freedom seekers' fate is known, thanks to period newspapers, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and memoirs of one of the captains and one of the lawyers, Horace Mann. Secondarily, City Hall is the only place associated with compensated emancipation in the United States. The act of emancipation for DC bondsmen, passed by Congress on April 16, 1862, occurred before the Emancipation Proclamation in January 1863. The records of the administration of the compensation provide valuable details on those who were emancipated.

Visitor Information: Currently open to public.

Location: 451 Indiana Ave., NW, Washington, N/A, 20001

National Register/National Historic Landmark Status: City Hall/DC Courthouse

National Park Unit: No

Ownership: District of Columbia c/o Exec. Officer

Location Type: Site

People/Organizations Associated with the site: Daniel Drayton (Captain),Edward Sayres (Captain)