Slavery in the Chesapeake region began in 1619, when a Dutch trading ship carrying 20 African men entered Jamestown, Virginia. The slave trade exploded in the following years. Between 1619 and 1700, the slave population grew to 13,000. Between 1700 and 1770, the region's slave population expanded to 250,000. By the beginning of the Revolutionary War, five years later in 1775, Blacks made up nearly one-third of the region's total population. Thus begins the little known history of Blacks on the Potomac River. During this three hour cruise we will present significant “Moments” on the river. These include: The River’s Role In The Underground Railroad, The Pearl Incident, Lewis Jefferson, D.C.’s first Black Millionaire and The slave markets at Alexandria among other sites. This is a multi-media, full immersion experience featuring live narration by Captain Bill Washington, a 34 year veteran on the Potomac River. The cruise will be aboard a Coast Guard inspected classic steel hull riverboat owned and operated by Capitol River Cruises and will be piloted by a professional captain. This cruise is ideal for school groups, church groups, and those seeking a unique special outing.
I’m originally from New York City and learned how to sail as a teenager spending my summers in Sag Harbor, NY. I moved to the DC area in 1970 and have been on the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay ever since. I hold a 100 ton USCG Masters license. In 2005 I was fortunate to sail as Second Mate aboard the Half Moon (a square-rigger) on the Hudson River. This was a nine day trip from Verplanck, NY to Albany. We had 11 middle school kids, 3 teachers and a crew of 8. With this experience, I have combined my love of history with my passion for the water.
We depart from the SW DC waterfront and start out cruising south down the Washington Channel to The Anacostia River. We go up the Anacostia to the Washington Navy Yard then turn around and come back to the Potomac River. We then head south cruising past Alexandria, Virginia, the Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge and National Harbor. We will than turn around and return to our dock.
Black History on the Potomac By Boat