Stop removing our history

Stop Congress from removing the Emancipation Monument from our Nation’s Capitol. Add your name to the Petition today. This is the only memorial entirely paid for by thousands of formerly enslaved and U.S. Colored Troops in our Nation’s capitol. https://www.change.org/EmancipationMonumentDC

Emancipation Monument or Freedom’s Memorial is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and located in Lincoln Park, the first public park in Washington, D.C.

Freedom’s Memorial, also known as the Emancipation Monument in Lincoln Park in Washington, D.C. has a plaque that reads “in grateful memory of Abraham Lincoln this monument was erected by the Western Sanitary Commission. of Saint Louis Mo: with funds contributed solely by emancipated citizens of the United States declared free by his proclamation January 1st A.D. 1863. The first contributionof five dollars was made by Charlotte Scott, a freed woman of Virginia being her first earnings in freedom and consecrated by her suggestion and request on the day she heard of President Lincoln’s death to build a monument to his memory.

For the full story of the Monument see https://archeralexander.wordpress.com/the-monument/

Contact your Congressperson or Eleanore Holmes Norton about HR7466 https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/7466/all-actions?r=2&s=9&q=%7B%22search%22%3A%5B%22HR7466%22%5D%7D

Rockbridge County Virginia

Archer Alexander was born enslaved in Rockbridge County Virginia, taken to Saint Charles County in Missouri in 1829, and lies buried in St. Louis where he fled to in 1863. In 1876, he would break his own chains and rise alongside Lincoln, on the Emancipation Memorial in Washington, D.C. In 1880, he died an unknown hero.

In 1806, Archer Alexander was born the enslaved property of John Alexander, a Lexington landowner, farmer and Presbyterian Elder . When his father died in 1828, James Alexander would inherit his property, and in 1829 take Archer to Missouri, where he settled on Dardenne Prairie in St. Charles County. When James Alexander died, Archer would be sold to Richard H. Pitman. In 1863, Archer would learn that Pitman, and other area men, had sabotaged the Peruque Creek Bridge timbers and stored arms in Campbell’s icehouse. He knew what he had to do. Running five miles on that cold February night, he warned the Union troops of the danger just in time. But the slave patrol was soon out to lynch him!

In July 2019, Archer Alexander’s great-great-great grandson Keith Winstead and author Dorris Keeven-Franke visited Lexington and the Rockbridge Historical Society in Virginia. There they would meet Eric Wilson, Lisa McCowan, visit the homesites and cemeteries of the Alexanders, McCluers and Campbells, retracing Archer’s first twenty-three years. Their journey was recently chronicled in the The News-Gazette article The Face of Freedom by Eric Wilson. He shares it here https://www.thenews-gazette.com/content/face-freedom

John Alexander 28 July 1764 – 28 October 1828 Timber Ridge Presbyterian Church graveyard

On July 1, 2020 Eleanore Holmes Norton would put forth a bill to remove the Emancipation Monument in Washington, D.C.. Please consider signing the Change.org petition to see that the memorial which was paid for by the former enslaved, remains in Lincoln Park where they erected it in 1876. https://www.change.org/EmancipationMonumentDC

Freedom

“Now I’m free! I thank the good Lord that he has delivered me from all my troubles, and I’ve lived to see this.” Such were the words of Archer Alexander when he saw the photograph of himself on the Emancipation Monument, which was to be dedicated in 1876 by the great orator Frederick Douglass in Lincoln Park on the 11th Anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. Totally paid for by the former enslaved people of America. The first such monument in Washington, D.C. and the first ever to feature Lincoln with the people he saw achieve their freedom. Our treasured right that we all celebrate today!

In 1885, William Greenleaf Eliot, a Unitarian minister and founder of Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri  would be the first biographer of Archer Alexander. As a member of the Western Sanitary Commission he would announce  “Soon after Mr. Lincoln’s assassination, Charlotte Scott, an emancipated slave, brought five dollars to her former master, Mr. William P. Rucker, then a Union refugee from Virginia… It was her first earnings as a free woman, and she begged that it might be used “to make a monument to Massa Lincoln, the best friend the colored people ever had…

Mr. Rucker placed it in the hands of General T. H. C. Smith, who forwarded it to Mr. James E. Yeatman, president of the Western Sanitary Commission of St. Louis …The suggestion was cordially accepted, and a circular letter was published inviting all freedmen to send contributions for the purpose to the Commission in St. Louis. In response, liberal sums were received from colored soldiers …which was soon increased from other sources to $16,242… In the capitol grounds at Washington, D.C., there is a bronze group known as Freedom’s Memorial… 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…

I have felt as proud of the long-continued friendship and confidence of Archer Alexander as of any one I have known. 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, by provost-marshal authority, 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.” wrote Eliot in From Slavery to Freedom, Archer Alexander published in Boston in 1885.

Today, this monument and its’ history is in danger of being lost. There are those that cannot see this through the eyes of that time because they have not heard the voices of their ancestors. Help us to recall this point in our nation’s history, to be able to teach our children today, and for future generations what a slave rising in freedom looks like. Please consider signing our Petition to Congress to preserve the Emancipation Monument at https://www.change.org/EmancipationMonumentDC

William Greenleaf Eliot. Photograph by unknown, no date Missouri History Museum Photograph and Print Collection. Portraits n38667

An American Hero

While the nation discusses matters of monumental importance, in Missouri, Archer Alexander is really a ‘local’ and also a hero. He was born in Rockbridge County Virginia near Lexington. In 1829, he moved to St. Charles County, albeit unwillingly as he was enslaved. His owner at that time, James Alexander was joining many of his relatives that had helped create the young state in 1821, like the Bates. As in Lincoln’s Attorney General Edward Bates. By 1844, Archer would find himself the property of Richard Pitman, who lived on the Boone’s Lick Road near where it crosses Dardenne Creek. Missouri was a slave state, but the demographics would change by the time of the Civil War, and its many German emigrants would help to keep it for the Union Army.

Krekel’s Home Guards were Union Troops stationed to guard the Peruque Creek Bridge

One cold February night in 1863, Archer would hear his owner and several other area men, discussing their plot. They had been sawing the wooden timbers of the nearby railroad bridge, where it crossed the Peruque Creek, and it would only be a matter of time now. Perhaps it would be “the next train” that would collapse the bridge and the vital link for the Union Army between St. Louis and the west. Knowing what a risk he was taking, Archer Alexander, took off at a run five miles to the north where Lt. Col. Krekel’s Home Guards were posted in the blockhouse. His warning would save hundreds of lives, while making him the target for a lynch mob. Fleeing for his life, leaving his wife and family behind, he made his way to St. Louis, and the home of William Greenleaf Eliot.

Eliot was a Unitarian minister and had founded Washington University, but even more importantly, he was a member of the Western Sanitary Commission. Charged by Lincoln, to assist troops west of the Appalachian mountains setting up hospitals and providing necessary supplies. It was not government run but relied totally on donations, which came from as far as the great city of Boston. When the war ended, tensions in America was high, and the best friend of the colored people, Abraham Lincoln was assassinated.

A formerly enslaved woman in Ohio, named Charlotte Scott, took the first money she ever made as a free person, and gave it to her former owner. She dreamed of a great monument to Lincoln. That money was deposited with the Western Sanitary Commission, which had worked with the fugitive slaves, contraband camps, the Freedmen’s Bureau, and the U.S. Colored Troops. Thousands of formerly enslaved people would give their hard earned money to see Charlotte Scott’s dream become a reality in 1876.

Through Eliot and the Western Sanitary Commission, the formerly enslaved would see Archer Alexander as a man who by his own deeds, like thousands of others of the formerly enslaved, had broken his own chains.  Archer can still be seen today, rising from his knees, his shackles broken, looking up towards Lincoln. Archer Alexander is no longer just a local, as he rises next to Lincoln on the Emancipation Memorial today, in Lincoln Park in Washington, D.C.. Please sign the Petition to save the monument https://www.change.org/EmancipationMonumentDC

Save the Emancipation Memorial in DC

When President Lincoln was assassinated because he had freed the slaves, Archer Alexander was definitely already worthy of the honor, to be portrayed by the great man’s side. Archer Alexander’s warning to the Union troops, about the efforts to sabotage a Union Army railroad bridge, saved hundreds of lives. He had worked to break his own chains of bondage and is rising to meet President Lincoln who is acknowledging this hero.

Charlotte Scott had a dream to honor President Abraham Lincoln “the best friend the colored people ever had”. This great monument was entirely funded by thousands of formerly enslaved people, freedmen, and soldiers of the United States Colored Troops. This was the beginning of the end of slavery. We believe it should remain as a testimony to how far America has come, and to honor the sacrifices of those that gave to see this monument made. This memorial to Lincoln should matter to all Americans, as we cannot erase its history. Let those that feel pain, learn the truth of its great history, and only use this monument to teach and inspire future generations, as its’ original creators in 1865 intended.  

It is said that those that do not know their history, are doomed to repeat it. Let us all rise up, by learning the truth of our history. Our ancestors, fought side by side to put an end to slavery. There are those of us that are willing to stand side by side, to once again raise our voices and take a risk for something we all believe in. Its’ time to remember our true history. To save this monument will further acknowledge and lead to a better understanding of President Abraham Lincoln and Archer Alexander. 

PLEASE CONSIDER SIGNING OUR PETITION https://www.change.org/EmancipationMonumentDC

Bronze plaque on the “Freedom Memorial” in Lincoln Park in Washington, D.C.
Archer Alexander is the Great Great Great Grandfather of Muhammad Ali

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.

Keep the Emancipation Memorial Statue

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.

President Abraham Lincoln whose Emancipation Proclamation freed the enslaved.

“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=&quote_id=quote3&title_id=title3&recruiter=15890036&loc=thank-you-page

Freedom’s Memorial – In Grateful Memory of Abraham Lincoln This Monument was erected by the Western Sanitary Commission of St. Louis, MO: with funds contributed solely by Emancipated Citizens of the United States declared free by his Proclamation January 1st, 1863. The first contribution of five dollars was Charlotte Scott A Freed Woman of Virginia being her first earnings in freedom and consecrated by her suggestion and request on the day she heard of President Lincoln’s death to build a monument to his memory.

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.

Eyes of the Time

What is history? Can it be a monument? Our mothers collect lockets of hair, baby teeth, report cards and hand drawn valentines. A family historian collects old photos and obituaries of as many generations they can.  A company compiles an Annual Report of its greatest achievements for its stockholders. A city will name its’ streets after its’ most famous residents and create museums that share its history. Even our Presidents give us their annual Report to the Nation. We do these things in order to have tangible evidence and records of an event or a person in history, at a certain moment in time. And they help us to listen, recall, and think. They  help us to know, understand and share the story of how far we have come.

In 1865, our nation was ending a most horrible period in its great history. The horrible but “peculiar” institution we know as slavery had ended. Hundreds of thousands of families had lost their husband, father, brother or son, in order for this to happen. They had been led through the crisis by a simple man who lived by creed “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Then he was brutally assassinated. Our country’s former enslaved people wanted to erect a monument to this great man. A woman named Charlotte Rucker took the first money she ever made as a free person, to her former owner, and asked for his help. She wanted to see a monument of that man President Abraham Lincoln.

Emancipation Memorial

The same people who had helped the slaves before, would help them once again. It would take years, but in 1876, with the help of the Western Sanitary Commission, that monument would become a reality. That simple bronze monument, with two figures, a tall white man, and a black man rising on one knee, alongside him. The first ever to include a black person in our Nation’s Capital. It would share that man, with the Emancipation Proclamation at his elbow, leaning benevolently over a slave who had broken his own shackles, suggesting that the slave rise! The time had come for the former slave Archer Alexander to stand and take his place alongside him. That is the story of the Emancipation Memorial with Lincoln and Archer, in Lincoln Park, in Washington, D.C. Another was placed as a tribute and a thank you to the people of Boston, who had been so generous during the Civil War by the sculptor, a former resident named Thomas Ball.  

Originally published on DorrisKeevenFranke.com

Black Lives Matter

In January, of 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation “there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except in punishment of crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted; and all persons held to service or labor as slaves are hereby declared free.” Under Lincoln’s direction, hundreds of thousands of Union soldiers gave their lives to make that statement permanent. How can we forget that? Today we say the same thing when we say Black Lives Matter yet we seek to destroy those statues and images that portray those very first steps taken. How can we know how far we have come, or judge how far we have to go, if we don’t have reminders of these facts, staring us in the face as we pass by them every day? If we destroy these monuments, how can we help our children understand our enslaved ancestors lives, or what our ancestors who fought for their emancipation sacrifices were for? The Union won, and our Country was preserved. Let our Country not be torn apart once again. Emancipation means free, not equal. That is our battle that continues today. Please don’t let us confuse the two issues in our haste. We should not eradicate those battle scars that occurred in 1865, but treasure them, as they are there to serve to remind all of us, how far we have come since then, and how far we have yet to go. Let us stop and listen to their story.

President Lincoln was assassinated because he put an end to slavery. 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.

By 1866, former U.S. Colored Troops, members of the Freedmans Bureau and others formerly enslaved, had helped raise $12,150, and then to $16,242.  (Today that would be equal to over $130,000). But times were changing and their movement was being checked, this was Reconstruction. A photograph had been provided to Thomas Ball a sculptor from Boston Massachusetts who had studied abroad and moved his studio to Italy. He and Eliot were friends and in 1870, they would meet in Ball’s studio. Eliot would explain how things were proceeding for the monument in the U.S., and about the funds raised by the Western Sanitary Commission and that the funds were coming from the formerly enslaved for this, and it was to be their monument. Ball agreed that the amount of funds already collected were sufficient to cast it at the Royal Foundry in Munich. The Western Sanitary Commission also asked Ball to make changes as well. The original plan had called for a passive black man kneeling in a soldier’s cap, before Lincoln. The cap was removed and the slave was to be seen rising, breaking his own chains and taking an active part in gaining his freedom. The slave that is immortalized and represents all of slavery, is none other than that of Archer Alexander, an American hero in his own right.

Today that monument, known as the Emancipation Memorial sits in Washington, D.C. in Lincoln Park. An exact replica also sits in Boston, Massachusetts as a tribute to the people of Boston. See Emancipation Memorial for its history, and the attempts to remove it from the City’s collective memory because there are those who find it offensive as a reminder of a time when a slave was submissive. Take a closer look please, as Archer’s shackles have been broken and he is rising to stand next to Lincoln.

Editorial written by Dorris Keeven-Franke

Boston’s Emancipation Memorial

By Dorris Keeven-Franke

It is said “The farther back you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.” Just as our country is torn today with images that will hopefully be considered unbearable in 150 years, the statue of President Abraham Lincoln in Boston’s Park Square is a history lesson that shouldn’t be forgotten either. Unfortunately, its’ true story is not what some people, who feel that the statue represents submissiveness, is all about. The statue, identical to one in Lincoln Park in Washington, D.C., shares the story of America’s emancipator President Abraham Lincoln, and an American hero, Archer Alexander.

On February 28, 1863, a fifty-seven-year-old enslaved man born in Virginia and taken to Missouri when he was 23, overheard his owner Richard Pitman plotting to destroy the nearby railroad bridge. A vital link for the Union Army, Archer risked his life to run 5 miles in the dark of night to warn the troops stationed at the bridge. With a slave patrol in hot pursuit wanting to lynch him, he fled to St. Louis and was taken in by William Greenleaf Eliot. Eliot was a Unitarian minister who was born near Boston, and founder of Washington University, who was also head of the Western Sanitary Commission, and a friend of Lincoln’s. In 1865, when Lincoln was assassinated, a slave named Charlotte Rucker, wanted to see a memorial to “the best friend the colored people ever had.” And Eliot wanted to see Archer Alexander portray the slave breaking his own chains and rising before Lincoln.

William Greenleaf Eliot. Photograph by unknown, no date Missouri History Museum Photograph and Print Collection. Portraits n38667

In 1876, on the anniversary of Lincoln’s assassination, President U.S. Grant and Frederick Douglass dedicated Washington, D.C.’s Emancipation Memorial, which was totally funded by the former enslaved of America, with its’ fundraising coordinated through the Western Sanitary Commission. Boston’s copy was placed there as a tribute as well to Eliot, as the people of Boston were the nation’s largest contributors to the Western Sanitary Commission. That is what people of America saw when they visited your statue in the 1870s.

Left: Archer Alexander 1806-1880. Right: His descendant Muhammad Ali 1942-2016. Archer Alexander is the Great-great-great grandfather of Muhammed Ali.
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