The D.C. Boarding House That Moved the Needle on Slavery

Where Abolitionists and Congressmen—Including Lincoln—Dined, Debated, and Became Bedfellows

In the early 1840s, where the steps of the Library of Congress now stand, a group of American abolitionists gathered in a modest boardinghouse to plot the destruction of slavery.

The house belonged to a relatively obscure Washingtonian, a widow named Ann Sprigg. In those days, boardinghouses like Sprigg’s were fixtures of the capital landscape—where congressmen, senators, government officials, and the like tended to live during legislative sessions. Quarters were often cramped. Men rented a room—or just a bed, or even half of a bed—and communed in shared bathrooms and living …

Why Did Governments Compensate Slaveholders for Abolition?

Across the Americas, Emancipation Moved Slowly, and Profited Those Who Had Benefited from Slavery Most

The records are difficult to make out at first—blurred rows listing the names of slaveholders, enslaved individuals, and prices under the dim light of the microfilm reader. But once brought …

The Battle Over a Los Angeles Hilltop | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

The Battle Over a Los Angeles Hilltop

A Son of Abolitionist John Brown Continues to Stir Up Controversy From His Altadena Grave

The unmarked trail that leads to the gravesite of abolitionist Owen Brown is flanked by wild fennel and sage. The place has a quiet stillness, befitting a man who devoted …