Elijah Sinners’s Tammany Hall Hotel was one of the many taverns and hotels in the area where people met to carry on a variety of business transactions. Placing advertisements in local newspapers to arrange business meetings in public houses was a common practice in the early 19th century. In addition to the business of commerce, people would also arrange meetings for social purposes. For example, Thomas Wildey began the International Order of Odd Fellows at an arranged meeting in this location.
The most notorious purpose for arranged meetings at hotels and taverns was for the sale of enslaved people. Austin Woolfolk, for instance, used this location to build up his business until he made enough money to open a slave jail at Pratt and Cove Streets (near today’s MLK Blvd.) Eventually, the slave trading firm of Franklin & Armfield sent an agent to Baltimore, Franklin’s nephew James Franklin Purvis, to start operations here in 1831. The F&A business would become the largest traders of people in the U.S., modeling Woolfolk’s techniques--a network of agents, saturation advertising, and jails/pens as a holding area. Purvis became successful enough that he, too, was able to open a jail in Baltimore at Harford & Aisquith Streets.