Emily Edmonson, “History Adorned” series
Emily Edmonson (1835–1895) is best known for her dramatic attempted maritime escape from slavery with her sister, Mary Edmonson (1832–1853) on the ship, The Pearl, in 1848. Emily was born in Montgomery County, MD to a free African American father and an enslaved mother. As teens, the sisters were hired as domestic servants to a prominent DC family. They were among seventy-seven slaves that attempted a nighttime sail to freedom in New Jersey. Riots ensued in the days after the ship was brought back to Washington. The two sisters were sold and transported to New Orleans, where they were marketed as “sex slaves”. A yellow fever epidemic hastened their quick return to Alexandria slave traders, Bruin and Hill. During this period, they were hired as day labor and slept in the Bruin and Hill cells at night. Eventually, their father with the help of Henry Ward Beecher, was able to raise the $2,250 for their freedom. The two sisters became prominent abolitionists and friends with Frederick Douglass. They later attended Oberlin College in Ohio. Unfortunately Mary died of tuberculosis within the first 6 months. Emily continued her education at The University of the District of Columbia and became a teacher. She later married and lived in Sandy Springs, MD and Anacostia, DC.
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