During the Civil War, the Union Army occupied the City of Alexandria to prevent the Confederate Army from having a route into Washington, D.C., the capital. Since the Union Army was not in the slave trade, Alexandria became a haven for runaway slaves (then referred to as contraband). These contraband, along with captured Confederate soldiers, were housed in the old slave pen area at 1315 Duke Street.
This start Beulah’s history.
Beulah Baptist Church was the first church founded in Alexandria during the Civil War after Union occupation of the city in 1861. Beulah’s history is significant to Alexandria’s Black community in that the church played a role in educating the City’s first contraband Blacks. Before the Civil War, Virginia law forbade educating “coloreds”. However, during the Civil War, the Union authorities encouraged their education and God sent a freeman, Reverend Clement “Clem” Robinson to take on the task. Hence, the church became the primary source for educating coloreds throughout Alexandria, Virginia.