A Complicated Hospitality: Enslaved Labor at Gadsby’s Tavern | News Release | City of Alexandria

Tour of Gadsby’s Tavern Museum October 7 


The labor of African Americans – both free and enslaved – was critical to Alexandria’s development as an important port city in the 18th and 19th centuries. Join this interactive 60 to 75-minute tour exploring urban slavery at Gadsby’s Tavern. Known for his work in the early hospitality industry, John Gadsby relied on the capital, labor, and ingenuity of enslaved people of African descent for his businesses in Alexandria, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C. But what does hospitality mean when the labor is being done by people held in bondage? How does enslaved labor change how we think of hospitality? What was the cost to the people compelled to work at Gadsby’s? Participants will explore how the nuances of urban slavery complicate and expand our understanding of slavery in America through the stories, experiences, and archival traces of those enslaved by John Gadsby.


Tours will be offered on October 7 at 10 a.m. and noon and are $15 per person. Tickets may be purchased by calling 703.746.4242 or through the online shop at www.alexandriava.gov/shop.


As America began as a nation during the late 18th century and emerged in the 19th century, Gadsby’s Tavern was the center of social and political life in Alexandria as well as the new Federal City of Washington. The tavern served as the premier gathering place for residents – including George Washington – and visitors to eat, drink, learn, and influence history.  Tavern keepers John Wise and John Gadsby hosted balls, performances, and meetings, and their accommodations were known as the best by travelers near and far. Gadsby’s Tavern Museum is located at 134 North Royal Street in the heart of Old Town Alexandria and is owned and operated by the City of Alexandria. For more information, please call 703.746.4242 or visit www.gadsbystavern.org.


The City of Alexandria is committed to compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended. To request a reasonable accommodation, e-mail gadsbys.tavern@alexandriava.gov or call 703.746.3852, Virginia Relay 711

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