What is a monument? Merriam-Webster Dictionary: says a lasting evidence, reminder, or example of someone or something notable or great (2) a distinguished person (b) a memorial stone or a building erected in remembrance of a person or event. Public monuments everywhere are being removed because some find them offensive. Do they know the history of these monuments? And before the desire to remove the Emancipation/Freedom monument in one of our Nation’s most historic cities succeeds, I would like to share with you a petition to KEEP THE EMANCIPATION MEMORIAL STATUE by the great-great-great grandson of the enslaved man rising on the monument. His name is Keith Winstead.
The EMANCIPATION monument in Boston was placed there in 1879, as a tribute to the citizens of that City. A replica of the Freedom (Emancipation) Memorial in Washington, D.C., is located in Lincoln Park. The first monument was dedicated in 1876 on the 11th Anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, April 14th, 1865. When the formerly enslaved Charlotte Scott heard the news of President Lincoln’s death, she took the first five dollars in money she had earned as a free woman, and gave them to her former master Mr. William P. Rucker a Union refugee from Virginia, who lived in Marietta Ohio then. She asked him “to make a monument to Massa Lincoln, the best friend the colored people ever had“*. Rucker would take those funds to the Western Sanitary Commission who said, “Would it not be well to take up this suggestion and make it known to the freedmen?“* A member of the Commission, William Greenleaf Eliot would share it with many of the benefactors of the Freedmen’s Bureau, who by 1866 had helped raise $12,150, and then to $16,242. Today that would be equal to over $130,000. Those benefactors were the former enslaved of America.
“In the Capitol grounds at Washington, DC there is a bronze group known as Freedoms Memorial. It represents President Lincoln in the act of emancipating a negro slave, who kneels at his feet to receive his benediction, but whose hand has grasped the chain as if in the act of breaking it, indicating the historical fact that the slaves took active part in their own deliverance.”*
William Greenleaf Eliot, had helped create the Western Sanitary Commission, which was originally established to aid Union and United State Colored Troops hospitals and camps sick, and wounded troops. It was established by Major-General Fremont for the care and relief of Union refugees, of fugitive slaves, and those families. In today’s term it was a non-governmental organization, similar to our American Red Cross during the Civil War. Its funds came in the form of donations, and the largest amount of donations came from Boston. In 1865, when the monument was conceived, the former enslaved Archer Alexander, who is depicted on the monument was living in Eliot’s home.
Who was Keith Winstead’s ancestor Archer Alexander? In 1863, he was a man who chose to do the right thing. When he overheard his master plotting to sabotage the local railroad bridge, he risked being lynched and reported it. He fled from St Charles County to St. Louis, where he was taken into the home of Eliot, who worked to see Archey emancipated. Eliot wrote “His freedom came directly from the hand of President Lincoln”. When Archey saw a picture of the final monument his words were “Now I’se free.”*
*All quotes are from The Story of Archer Alexander from Slavery to Freedom published in Boston, by Cupples, Upham and Company, in 1885 and sold at the Old Corner Bookstore. Written by William G. Eliot, a Unitarian minister and founder of Washington University in St. Louis, Mo.
To join those wanting to see this monument and the history of the time it represents please sign the petition: Keep the Emancipation Memorial go to https://www.ipetitions.com/petition/keep-the-the-emancipation-memorialfreedman-statue?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign="e_id=quote3&title_id=title3&recruiter=15890036&loc=thank-you-page
Dorris Keeven-Franke and Keith Winstead in front of the Freedom (Emancipation) Memorial in Lincoln Park in Washington, D.C. Keith Winstead is a descendant of Archer Alexander the slave rising. Archer Alexander is also the ancestor of Keith Winstead’s cousin, Muhammad Ali.