1865 Photo of Alexandria Slave Pen

This is a powerful Civil War-era photograph. It shows Price, Birch & Co., which was a slave dealing business.

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Union Army guard at Price, Birch & Co. slave pen at Alexandria, Virginia, circa 1865. Detail of albumen print. Photograph by Andrew J. Russell.
Union Army guard at Price, Birch & Co. slave pen at Alexandria, Virginia, circa 1865. Detail of albumen print. Photograph by Andrew J. Russell.

Source: Shorpy

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  • Jay Roberts

    Birch (spelled Burch in Northup’s book) was the dealer who kidnapped Solomon Northup and sold him into slavery in the Deep South. In 1853, Northup wrote a stirring account of his kidnapping and captivity. “12 Years a Slave” is the movie. In real life and the movie, the slave pen was in D.C.

    The slave traders in Alexandria made a fortune in their business. They would march the enslaved persons down Duke to the waterfront. They were so rich, they could afford two big ships for the trip to New Orleans. Believe it or not, they also made some slaves walk all the way to the Deep South.

    If you get a chance, visit the museum downstairs. I’ve never been so moved in my life.

  • John Reilly

    The museum on this site is well worth seeing, and is as moving and poignant as you will ever encounter. It is beautifully done. This is less than a 5 minute walk from the King Street Metro Station.