Mission to Rescue Slaves in Washington, DCPearl was the name of a sixty-five foot Chesapeake Bay Schooner that was chartered by free African Americans for $100 to rescue 77 people from slavery in Washington, DC. The Pearl Incident was the largest recorded nonviolent escape attempt by slaves in United States history.
Image: Map of the Voyage
Like the nearby states of Maryland and Virginia, Washington, DC had a slave market and was part of the slave trade; because it was connected to the Chesapeake Bay by the Potomac River, slaves were shipped or marched overland through this city. Slaves worked as domestic servants and artisans for their owners, or were hired out to work for others. Free blacks and whites were active in the city, trying to abolish slavery and the slave trade. In 1848 free blacks outnumbered slaves in the District of Columbia by three to one.