This is the story of an enslaved man named Archer Alexander, born in Virginia, where slavery is said to have begun. His father was sold south because he was “uppity”, and somehow he had learned to read and write. He kept talking about freedom. When Archer’s owner was caught up in the urge to go west to Missouri in 1829, he would have to leave his mother behind forever.
Archer was smart, well liked and trusted. And for the next thirty-four years he watched, he listened and he waited. One night he heard his owner and neighborhood men bragging about how they’d sawn the Peruque Creek Bridge’s timbers, and stored arms in the icehouse. He knew what he had to do. Five mile north on that cold February night, he ran to warn the Union troops and save countless lives. But they couldn’t protect him, and the slave patrol was out to lynch him!
He traveled at night and slept at safe “stops” during the day. He knew the way to St. Louis, and safety. There the German butcher asked him “are you a fugitive slave?” and he knew it was safe to answer yes. An angel named Abby would arrive shortly, and ask “would you carry this basket home for me?” Her husband, William G. Eliot would immediately see that Archer needed protection as “the last fugitive slave” in St. Louis. Caught up in the ongoing crisis called the Civil War, Archer’s bravery would become known far and wide.
So far in fact, that when President Abraham Lincoln was shot, and the colored people mourned their greatest friend ever, they wanted a monument. They raised the funds, and Eliot would make sure it happened. A monument would rise up, for Lincoln, with Archer Alexander breaking those chains that had bound him. That was how a brave man from Virginia, who lived his life in Missouri, would live forever for all on the Emancipation Memorial in Washington, D.C. This is a story that needs to heard again.
“Gradually the mists of partial knowledge clear away; but it will be many years yet before the North and South will thoroughly understand each other, either as to the past history of or the present relations of the negro and white races. Meanwhile mutual forbearance may lead to increasing mutual affection and respect.”
The enslaved Archer Alexander was born in 1806 in Virginia…read more