Penn Quarter in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
The Roots of Freedom and Equality
Civil War to Civil Rights
—Downtown Heritage Trail —
“It is known to you that events have transpired within the last few days, deeply affecting the peace and character of our community.”
With these words, city officials tried to calm the angry mobs gathering on this corner in April 1848. The crowds blamed the National Era, an abolitionist newspaper located near this sign, for the attempted escape of 77 African American slaves on the ship Pearl. They threatened to destroy the Era’s printing press. The editor, Gamaliel Bailey, was one of many anti-slavery activists who made Washington, D.C. a national center for abolitionist activity. He wrote of the irony of slavery in the capital of a nation dedicated to liberty and equality.
Tragically, most of the captured slaves were sold and taken south. The mayor and others quelled the potential riot, and the National Era survived. In 1851 and 1852, in a new location just a block and a half south of here, the paper serialized a novel by a little known author named Harriet Beecher Stowe. Her book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, sold 300,000 copies in its first year. The dramatic story intensified sectional rivalries and, many believe, made war inevitable.
One hundred years later, on this same block, Charles Hamilton Houston continued the struggle for freedom and equality for African
Erected by Cultural Tourism DC. (Marker Number .4.)
Marker series. This marker is included in the Civil War to Civil Rights marker series.
Location. 38° 53.828′ N, 77° 1.31′ W. Marker is in Penn Quarter, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is on 7th Street, NW south of Abe Pollin Way (F Street), NW, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Washington DC 20001, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Mary Church Terrell (a few steps from this marker); Discover DC / Gallery Place / Arena (within shouting distance of this marker); Samuel F. B. Morse (within shouting distance of this marker); The Daguerre Monument (within shouting distance of this marker); The Daguerre Monument (within shouting distance of this marker); General Post Office (within shouting distance of this marker); Vaquero (within shouting distance of this marker); Patent Office Building (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Penn Quarter.
More about this marker. [Photo Captions:]
Left and below: Charles Hamilton Houston, left, mentor to the future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, below, had an office on this block. (Moorland Spingarn Research Center, Howard University.)
Above and right: Officials try to quiet protests of Pearl in 1848. ([Poster: “To the Citizens of Washington ...”] Library of Congress.) Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe was first published near this spot in serialized form in the National Era ([Title page] Library of Congress; [photo of author] National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.)
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. To better understand the relationship,
Also see . . .
1. Charles Hamilton Houston. (Submitted on December 6, 2009, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.)
2. Uncle Tom's Cabin; or, Life among the Lowly. (Submitted on December 6, 2009, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.)
3. Harriet Beecher Stowe. (Submitted on December 7, 2009, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.)
Categories. • Abolition & Underground RR • African Americans • Civil Rights • Politics •
Credits. This page was last revised on January 27, 2017. This page originally submitted on December 6, 2009, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. This page has been viewed 1,698 times since then and 89 times this year. Last updated on December 8, 2009, by Katherine Kane of Hartford, Connecticut. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on December 6, 2009, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. submitted on August 30, 2015, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. 11, 12. submitted on December 8, 2009, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. 13. submitted on August 30, 2015, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. • Kevin W. was the editor who published this page.