How the Yellow House Helped Make Washington, D.C., a Slavery Capital

The Notorious Jail Lent Institutional Support to Slavery Throughout the South

Washington, D.C., was a capital not just of the United States, but of slavery, serving as a major depot in the domestic slave trade. In the District, enslaved men, women, and children from homes and families in the Chesapeake were held and then forcibly expelled to the cotton frontier of the Deep South, as well as to Louisiana’s sugar plantations.

Slave dealers bought enslaved individuals whom owners deemed surplus and warehoused them at pens in the District of Columbia until they had assembled a full shipment for removal southward. Half a …