Penn Quarter in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Ending Slavery in Washington
Civil War to Civil Rights
—Downtown Heritage Trail —
The Old City Hall/Courthouse opened in 1822, with offices for the mayor, city administrators, and federal courts. Today it is the city's third-oldest public building, after the White House and the Capitol.
The City Hall/Courthouse witnessed key events in abolition history. In 1848 abolitionist Daniel Drayton faced trial here for larceny and illegally transporting slaves. Months earlier, Drayton had been captured along with 77 African Americans attempting to escape slavery aboard his schooner, Pearl. Drayton was found guilty and served jail time, but was pardoned in 1852. The National Park Service later cited this case when it added the City Hall/Courthouse to its National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom.
On April 16, 1862, during the Civil War, President Lincoln signed the DC Emancipation Act, freeing DC's enslaved people. The law established an experiment called "compensated emancipation," reimbursing slave owners for their human property. Owners came to the City Hall/Courthouse, where three commissioners had the ugly task of putting a monetary value on human life (up to $300 per person). Later President Lincoln did
The Civil War (1861 - 1865) transformed Washington, DC from a muddy backwater to a center of national power. Ever since, the city has been at the heart of the continuing struggle to realize fully the ideas for which the war was fought. The 25 signs that mark this trail follow the footsteps of Abraham Lincoln, Walt Whitman, Clara Barton, Frederick Douglas, and others, famous and humble, who shaped a nation and its capital city while living and working in historic downtown DC.
Civil War to Civil Rights Downtown Heritage Trail is an Official Washington, DC Walking Trail. The self-guided tour consists of three distinct loops: West, Center, and East. Each one-mile loop offers about an hour of gentle exercise.
A free booklet capturing the trail's highlights is available at local businesses and institutions along the way. To download the free Civil War to Civil Rights Audio Tour, and learn about other DC neighborhoods, please visit www.CuturalTourismDC.org.
Erected by Cultural Tourism DC. (Marker Number e.2.)
Marker series. This marker is included in the Civil War to Civil Rights marker series.
Location. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Washington DC 20004, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. DC Recorder of Deeds Building/WPA Era Murals (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Daniel Webster (about 300 feet away); Senator Daniel Webster (about 300 feet away); 601 Pennsylvania Avenue (about 500 feet away); Grand Army of the Republic (about 500 feet away); Ceremony at the Crossroads (about 500 feet away); National Council of Negro Women (about 500 feet away); Protecting Consumers and Competition (about 600 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Penn Quarter.
Categories. • Abolition & Underground RR • African Americans • War, US Civil •
Credits. This page was last revised on September 11, 2016. This page originally submitted on June 7, 2012, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 647 times since then and 36 times this year. Photos: 1. submitted on June 7, 2012, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. submitted on June 17, 2012, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.