Slave pens in the metropolitan area

Essay by Bob MonroeCollege, UndergraduateA-, June 1996

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This was supposed to be a somewhat straight forward assignment, find at least three slave pens in the metro D.C. area and report on your finds. Using resources like the Library of Congress, City of Alexandria Library system, George Mason University, the Federal Historic Preservation Society, the Alexandria Archaeology Department, the National Black Historical Foundation, the Duke University Reference Library, more search engines than I care to remember, and a fellow pilot named Steve Collins, I was able to locate two slave pens. I have collected four thesis, two Dissertations, and the entire Civil War collection of photographs by the Library of Congress in digital format. I found two slave pens in the metropolitan Washington area. I have found conflicting information on reasons why there are so few here and even in the United States. Most of the information that I have collected points to the monopolistic business tactics of the slave traders that bought and sold Negro slaves in the U.S..

The two main entry ports for slave vessels were Alexandria, Virginia and New Orleans, Louisiana. Virtually all slaves that came to the new world, entered at either these two ports and were temporality lodged in the local slave houses that we called slave pens until they were auctioned or moved via ship to other states. There is some confusion on my behalf as to whether these slave pens are the same as the slave prisons that are discussed in all this information that I have collected. I do know that on 1315 Duke Street in Alexandria, V.A. there is a well known slave pen/prison that is still standing today. The other locations that I have found but have been unable to confirm are 283 Duke St. and 1217 Duke St. in Alexandria. I find it odd...