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.

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When Charlotte Scott heard of Lincoln’s assassination she would give the first money she earned as a free woman to her former master for a monument “to the best friend the colored people ever had.” The ONLY monument in our Nation’s Capital entirely paid for by the formerly enslaved of America! Dedicated in 1876, Archer Alexander depicts the slave rising, his shackles broken through his own hard work, to become a free man. With his Emancipation Proclamation at his elbow, Lincoln is the reason for the monument. Over 20,000 African Americans would flock to D.C. for the dedication hosted by President U.S. Grant and his entire cabinet, and the great orator Frederick Douglass would make his most famous speech. When Alexander saw the monument he was happy and gave his approval saying “I’m Free!” Archer Alexander is the great-great-great grandfather of Muhammad Ali. For more about the monument see …The Monument

Author Dorris Keeven-Franke‘s next book, The Untold Story of An American Hero sheds new light on the life of Archer Alexander.

In 1806, Archer Alexander was born the enslaved property of John Alexander in Rockbridge County Virginia. 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!

A fugitive slave, he traveled at night and slept at safe ‘stops’ during the day. He knew the way to St. Louis, and safety. He made his way to the home of William Greenleaf Eliot, a Unitarian minister and founder of Washington University. Eliot would secure an Order to protect Archer, and hide him in Alton, Illinois until his freedom was secured. Eliot was the founder of the Western Sanitary Commission in St. Louis, a war relief and humanitarian organization that worked with the Union Army, the U.S. Colored Troops, the Freedmans Bureau and the fugitive slaves fleeing from the south.

When the war ended and President Abraham Lincoln was shot, the formerly enslaved mourned their friend and wanted to see a memorial made to him. With the help of the Western Sanitary Commission, they raised the funds, and a monument would rise up that was paid for entirely by the newly freed people. That was how a brave man from Virginia, who lived his life in Missouri, would live forever 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

Taken from Virginia to Missouri… read more

In Missouri he lived along the Dardenne Creek, for 34 years…read more

In the midst of the Civil War, he would overhear the plot to destroy the Union Railroad… read more

Fleeing for his life to St. Louis he was taken in by a Unitarian minister William G. Eliot…read more

In 1876, he would be the face of the enslaved with President Abraham Lincoln on the Emancipation Memorial, which stands today in Lincoln Park in Washington, more

In 1885, Eliot would author The Story of Archer Alexander from Slavery to Freedom without which we may never have known the story of Archer Alexander … read more

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