Site of the General Wayne Inn
Site where the business of slavery once took place.
The General Wayne Inn was one of the many inns, hotels, and taverns, where enslaved workers were purchased or sold. For instance, the following ad was posted August 4, 1817. “10 or 15 Negroes Wanted. From 10 to 25 years of age, for which, if speedy application is made, the most liberal prices will be given. Apply at John Cugles, sign of General Wayne, head of Market Street, to ZACHARIAH SAMUEL.” The buyer was probably looking for people to “sell south.”
After its incorporation in the late 18th century, the population of Baltimore grew very quickly along with the expansion of the new country. One of the many “trades” that grew along with the city was the sale of people. There was a strong market in Baltimore in the early 19th century for enslaved workers, for several reasons. First, local Maryland farmers had shifted from a labor-intensive tobacco crop to the growing of cereal grains, which required less work and contributed to a surplus of slave labor in the area. Secondly, Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin in 1793, which quickly and easily separated cotton fibers from their seeds. The cotton industry then became incredibly profitable, which fueled a desire for more land and forced labor in the South. The third factor was that the importation of people for sale was outlawed in 1808, meaning enslavers could only obtain enslaved workers from within the United States. Therefore, farmers in Maryland began to sell their surplus enslaved labor to enslavers in the South and West.
This domestic slave trading, known as the Second Middle Passage, replaced the international slave trade in 1808 and became a integral to the new nation’s economy, which depended heavily on the growth of cotton. Historians estimate that about one million enslaved people were sold and moved around the country between 1808 and the abolition of slavery in 1865. About one-third of all marriages between enslaved people were broken up by these forced relocations. About one-fifth of enslaved children were separated from their parents. Needless to say, the trauma of these forced separations was devastating for the people who suffered through them.