The caravan completed its’ crossing of the state of Indiana and is starting across Illinois. America was on the move. They have come over 600 miles from Rockbridge County in Virginia on their own journey. These things are not on the mind of these fifty weary travelers, headed for Saint Charles County in Missouri, of which the enslaved Archer Alexander is a member. In 1876, the Emancipation Monument in Washington, D.C. was the vision of thousands of the formerly enslaved people that President Lincoln had helped free. The monument with Archer Alexander (1806-1880) portrays a slave who has worked to free himself, has broken and thrown off his shackles and is seen rising with the vision of the future on his face. The face of freedom.
Next day came through Vincennes, a beautifully situated town, on the bank of the Wabash, with a number of fine brick houses and some miserable old French dwellings. Here we obtained the first sight of a beautiful prairie, a noble sight. The Wabash is a fine stream, smooth, gentle and magnificent. Crossed on a good ferry, a decent ferryman. Ferriage $1.62-1/2.
William Clark’s older brother, Lieutenant Colonel George Rogers Clark, and others created a plan to capture the French forts that the British occupied after Louisiana was ceded. After Kaskaskia was captured by Clark, Lieutenant Governor Henry Hamilton sent British soldiers and reinforcements from Detroit to Fort Vincennes and helped to rebuild the fort. During our Revolutionary War the Patriots won the Battle of Vincennes on February 23–24, 1779. Although the Americans would remain in control of Vincennes, it took years to establish peace. By 1798, the population had reached 2,500. Vincennes was no longer considered a trading outpost, but a thriving city. In 1826, a party of 500 Shawnee Indians passed through Vincennes, Tecumseh and his younger brother, also known as The Prophet, were among them.
Vincennes was founded as part of the French colony of New France. Later on, it would be transferred to the colony of Louisiana. Several years later, when France lost the French and Indian War it was ceded to the British. As the French colonials pushed north from Louisiana and south from Canada, British colonists continued to push west. In addition, British traders lured away many of Indians who had traded with the Canadians. The population grew quickly in the years that followed, resulting in a unique culture of interdependent the American Indians, British and American colonials. Its commerce was fueled by fur traders.
Set foot in Illinois. Soon entered a fine prairie, the greater part of which is sometimes overflowed so as to make the Wabash five miles wide. People rather more cleanly in their persons and house than in Indiana. More marks of industry. Encamped at Sheildier’s Orchard. The country is alternated prairie and woods. Some of them glorious views. Passed through Lawrenceville, the county seat of Lawrence county, a small town of twenty houses on the Ambrose (Embarrass) River.*
We build monuments to our many American heroes. Each is erected to share the story of someone’s heroism. These monuments share a story, and allow us to hear the voice of the people portrayed. Placed there by those who want these people and their heroic deeds remembered throughout history and forever more. If one does not take the time to stop and learn the true story, and listen to the voices of those portrayed… its’ purpose may be lost.
Learn the Hidden History of the Emancipation Monument from historians, researchers and authors. Marcia E. Cole tells the story of the former slave, Charlotte Scott, who conceived the idea of a memorial to President Lincoln paid for solely by former slaves and Black soldiers. Candace O’Connor explains the important work of the often overlooked Rev. William Greenleaf Eliot and the Western Sanitary Commission. Dorris Keeven-Franke shares details of the real-life Archer Alexander portrayed rising in the monument alongside President Lincoln. Carl Adams tells a little known story revealing Lincoln’s early thoughts and actions on slavery. And Jonathan White explores the powerful oratory delivered at the monument’s dedication by Frederick Douglass and a recently discovered Douglass letter shedding light on his views on the monument. The Emancipation Monument, also known as Freedom’s Memorial or the Lincoln Statue was dedicated in Washington, D.C. on April 14, 1876. It was paid for solely by donations from emancipated citizens and Black Union soldiers. Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton has introduced legislation requiring the National Park Service to remove the statue from its place in Lincoln Park and place it indoors in a museum. This educational video introduces the remarkable people who were part of this monument’s creation and hopes to convince viewers of the need to keep the Emancipation Monument standing, as it has for 144 years, as a testament to those who turned five dollars and a dream into a reality. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aPmOmdadEIQ&feature=youtu.be
*This is the journal of William Campbell (1805-1849) leading four families from Lexington, in Rockbridge County, Virginia to St. Charles County Missouri, written in 1829. This journal is located in the collections of the Leyburn Library, Special Collections and Archives, located at the Washington and Lee University, in Lexington, Virginia, and for which we are deeply indebted to Lisa McCown. Editor is Dorris Keeven-Franke.