The Baltimore Slave Trade Historic Marker, erected by the Maryland Historical Trust, is a reminder of the connection between the domestic slave market that proliferated primarily between Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and Fell’s Point. Although the US banned the import of slaves in 1808, the domestic slave trade in Baltimore thrived, as well as in many other cities at the time. Furthermore, due to innovations such as the cotton gin and the growing desire for more slaves in the Deep South, it is estimated that before 1859, over one million slaves were sold south from Maryland and Virginia.
One Baltimore institution that exemplified this trade was the “slave pens,” most of which were located in Inner Harbor and Fell’s Point, including some that were located near this marker. Compounding the slave pens were frequent advertisements in the Baltimore Sun and other papers, declaring 5,000 Negroes Wanted or Negroes! Negroes! Negroes! In an 1845 city directory, Slave Dealers were listed between Silversmiths and Soap. More than a dozen slave traders operated in Baltimore along Pratt and adjacent streets. The stories regarding Baltimore’s past is still controversial for African Americans and whites, and this historic marker ensures that these stories aren’t unforgotten.