The Emancipation Monument

In Lincoln Park, in Washington, D.C. sits the Emancipation monument.

FREEDOM’S MEMORIAL

ABRAHAM LINCOLN–ARCHER ALEXANDER

The slave rising has a name! He was a real man. His name was Archer Alexander, and he was called Archey by his family.

It represents President Lincoln in the act of emancipating a negro slave who kneels at his feet to receive the 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. He was, I believe, the last fugitive slave taken in Missouri under the old laws of slavery. His freedom came directly from the hand of President Lincoln … and his own hands had helped to break the chains that bound him. His oldest son had given his life to the cause. When I showed to him the photographic picture of the “Freedom’s Memorial” monument, soon after its inauguration in Washington, and explained to him its meaning, and that he would thus be remembered in connection with Abraham Lincoln, the emancipator of his race, he …exclaimed, “Now I’se free! I thank the good Lord that he has ‘livered me from all my troubles, and I’se lived to see this.

William g. Eliot, Archer Alexander from slavery to freedom, CUPPLES, UPHAM AND COMPANY, Boston, 1885

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 Gen. T.H.C. Smith, and he would make sure that they were given to Mr. James Yeatman, of who he asked “Would it not be well to.take up this suggestion and make it known to the freedmen?” And with that it would soon come under the help of the Western Sanitary Commission, with William G. Eliot at the helm. He would share it with many of the benefactors of the Freedmens Bureau, active during the Civil War.

THE Western Sanitary Commission, originally established by order of Major-General Frémont, and afterwards recognized and made permanent by the secretary of war, Edwin M. Stanton. Its members were James E. Yeatman, J. B. Johnson, George Partridge, Carlos S. Greeley, and W. G. Eliot. Besides the hospital work for the sick and wounded, the Western Sanitary Commission was intrusted by the authorities with the care and relief of Union refugees, and of fugitive slaves from the South. Many thousands of both these classes of sufferers thronged to St. Louis, generally in wretched condition, not only impoverished, but thriftless and inefficient. In one way or another they were taken care of until some sort of work was found by which they could earn their bread. Special funds were liberally contributed, chiefly from New England, for such uses.

W.G.E.

By 1866 Gen. J. W. Davidson troops had helped raise $12,150, and then to $16,242 for the monument.  (Today that would be equal to over $130,000). The Monument was totally funded by the former enslaved people.

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