Barnum’s City Hotel, located where the Clarence M. Mitchell, Jr. Courthouse stands today, was a common meeting place for all manner of transactions, such as buying, selling, or trading of products. It was common to see advertisements for the sale or purchase of enslaved people in which interested parties could meet at a specific hotel or tavern. Barnum’s was a common meeting place. Also, Lewis F. Scott, one of the most prolific dealers in human flesh, operated his General Slave Agency* from the basement level of the hotel for a period in the 1840s.There was also a sale that took place at the City Hotel that resulted in freedom for the person being purchased. The following is from the Baltimore Sunpaper, February 28, 1855.
Arthur Burns, the fugitive slave whose trial excited so much attention in Massachusetts about six months ago, was yesterday in this city, and took the cars last evening for Philadelphia, with the intention of proceeding North as far as Massachusetts. It appears that his master did not wish to part with him, but finally agreed to do so, whereupon he was purchased by Mr. McDaniel for $900. The gentleman yesterday reached here, and effected a sale of Burns to Rev. Lloyd A. Grimes, of Massachusetts, for the sum of $1,325. The transaction took place at Barnum’s Hotel, and was evidenced by Colonel Houston, one of the clerks. Burns excited by considerable attention during the few hours he was here. Upon his arrival North a grand demonstration will be made.
* See also entry on General Intelligence Office.