A sculpture honoring Emily and MaryEdmonson, freed slaves whose plight was chronicled in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s AKey to Uncle Tom’s Cabin, will be previewed tonight at 6:30 p.m. in theWatson Reading Room at the Alexandria Black History Museum.
Erik Blome, the artistdesigning the new sculpture for an office building at 1701 Duke St., portraysthe sisters who were once held at Bruin’s Slave Jail, which was formerlylocated at the site.
The Edmonson sisters werecaptured as part of the biggest attempted slave escape in U.S. history when, onApril 15, 1848, about 80 slaves boarded the Pearl, a boat docked alongthe Potomac and hired by abolitionists to carry the slaves north to freedom.Bad weather slowed the ship and it was subsequently captured and returned toWashington.
Although the girls’ father,Paul, was free and owned a 40-acre farm in Maryland, their mother, Amelia, wasa slave, making her 14 children slaves. After the Pearl’s capture, the13- and 15- year-old sisters were sold to Alexandrian slave trader JosephBruin, who put them on a ship for New Orleans, where black women were soldexplicitly for sexual exploitation.
Public outcry ensued andmoney was ultimately raised to purchase the freedom of the sisters, who went onto become leaders in the abolitionist movement.
The last remaining buildingof Bruin’s Slave Jail compound, a two-story structure that housed the slaves,is now located at 1707 Duke St.