The Pearl Incident was the largest attempt of slaves to escape in the United States. The event happened on April 15, 1848 when 77 slaves tried to escape to Washington, D.C. In the night the 77 slaves found their way to the ship, with Drayton and Sayres accepting the risk of transporting them, on that Saturday night.
Daniel and Mary Bell initiated the planning for the largest slave escape in the history of the United States. Daniel was a free African American blacksmith working at the Navy Yard in the District of Columbia. The Bells had overcome huge obstacles posed by their owners to purchase their own freedom, now they longed to secure freedom for their children and grandchildren. The slaves planned to take a boat named, The Pearl down the Potomac River to Chesapeake Bay. On top of that The Pearl would then have had to travel 120 miles up the Chesapeake Bay and then across the Delaware canal to New Jersey were slaves were considered free.
The Pearl hit a huge obstacle right after it reached Point Lookout a terrible storm came in which enabled the ship to continue on towards the bay. The slaves, men, women and children, found their passage delayed by winds running against the ship. The slaves were discovered missing the next day when many slave owners woke up to cold homes with no fire going or food prepared. The owners realized then their slaves were gone and they formed a posse to look for them.
Two days later, they were captured on the Chesapeake Bay near Point Lookout in Maryland by an armed posse traveling by steamboat. When the ship and slaves was taken back to Washington, a pro-slavery riot broke out in the city. The mob tried to attack an abolitionist newspaper and other known anti-slavery activists. As punishment, the owners soon sold most of the slaves to traders who took them to the Deep South.