The Louisiana Purchase opened the South and the cotton gin exploded the possibilities for industrial cotton production. Slavery and the millions of slaves held as chattel moved south and west. This took a complex network of slavers buying, selling, and shipping to move slaves. Georgetown functioned within this network. Slavers combed Maryland and Virginia looking for slaves and would sell them or load them at the harbor in Georgetown and Alexandria for shipment to the south. The urban slave quarters holding them for movement —stopping over points in a ruthless trip south—were known as “Georgia Pens.” John Beattie had lived in Georgetown since 1760 and ran a Georgia Pen at 3206 O Street.
(Source: Georgetown University)