Capture of escaped slaves on the Pearl

Title

Capture of escaped slaves on the Pearl

Description

In 1848, 77 enslaved African Americans, including the Edmonson sisters, attempted to escape their bondage in Washington, DC, by fleeing north to freedom via the ship the Pearl. Unfortunately, unfavorable winds slowed their escape, the ship was captured, and the escapees were brought back to Washington. This newspaper article details the attempted escape, capture, and a minor riot which broke out on the land that would become the National Mall as the Pearl's passengers were transported to jail.

Source

The Examiner (Louisville, Kentucky).

Date

4/29/1848

Coverage

Text

It appears that the Salem discovered the schooner (called the Pearl) lying in Cornfield harbor, at the mouth of the Potomac, about two o'clock on Monday morning. The fugitives seventy-seven in number, were fast asleep below, and Edward Sayres, the captain, Cheester English, a white boatman, and Daniel Drayton were also below. The Salem being immediately run alongside the Pearl, the Georgetown party almost instantaneously boarded her, fastened down the hatches and secured the fugitives and the white men on board. The movement was a rapid and successful one, and all on board the Pearl were thus made prisoner without bloodshed, although it was evident the slaves would have resisted if there had been any chance of escape. On the arrival of the Salem and the schooner at the steamboat wharf yesterday a large number of persons were assembled, some of whom used very threatening language towards the white men who were brought up prisoners; and if the latter escaped without serious personal injury, it was owing to the prudence and firmness of the guard by whom they were attended, and then being quickly conveyed to jail in a hack, which was pressed into immediate requisition.

Description

In 1848, 77 enslaved African Americans, including the Edmonson sisters, attempted to escape their bondage in Washington, DC, by fleeing north to freedom via the ship the Pearl. Unfortunately, unfavorable winds slowed their escape, the ship was captured, and the escapees were brought back to Washington. This newspaper article details the attempted escape, capture, and a minor riot which broke out on the land that would become the National Mall as the Pearl's passengers were transported to jail.

Date

4/29/1848

Coverage

1830-1859

Source

The Examiner (Louisville, Kentucky).