Slavery in the National Capital

Don E. Fehrenbacher and Ward M. McAfee

in The Slaveholding Republic

Published in print December 2002 | ISBN: 9780195158052
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199849475 | DOI:
Slavery in the National Capital

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The mass escape of seventy-six slaves, the story of which is told in this chapter, gave rise to much excitement and a mood of vigilantism in the capital city. The first hasty searches proved futile. However, a Negro drayman revealed that all the fugitives had been carried away by the ship the Pearl. Soon, more than thirty armed men were embarked on a steamboat in eager pursuit. Daniel Drayton and Edward Sayres were safely committed to the custody of the federal marshal, and bail was set at the excessive figure of $1,000 for each slave carried away. The cruise of the Pearl, although apparently arranged at the instance of a free black on behalf of his family, had all the earmarks of an abolitionist plot. The outburst of public anger in Washington was therefore directed not only against the “slave stealers” themselves but also against abolitionists in general and the local antislavery newspaper in particular.

Keywords: escape; slaves; vigilantism; Washington; Pearl; Daniel Drayton; Edward Sayres; abolitionists

Chapter.  18033 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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