These small wrought iron shackles from the Shrine’s collections were likely used as handcuffs to restrain an enslaved child or small adult. They were acquired by S.G. Boone from the Alexandria Slave Pen in Alexandria, Virginia. In operation between 1828 and 1861, the Alexandria Slave Pen was the site of the sale of tens of thousands of enslaved persons. The city was returned to American control by the United States armed forces in 1861 and the building was used as a military prison for the remainder of the war.
Shown here, this image shows the interior of the Alexandria Slave Pen where these shackles were purchased. The building’s slave cells were torn down following the end of the war.