Emancipation Memorial

An Open Letter to Tory Bullock and the City of Boston,

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 I hope will be considered unbearable in 150 years, the statue of President Abraham Lincoln in Boston’s Park Square is a history lesson that should not 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.

*Winston Churchill

On February 28, 1863, a fifty-seven-year-old enslaved man, born in Virginia and taken to Missouri when he was twenty-three, 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 former 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.

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 to the people of Boston by its sculptor, Thomas Ball, who was from Boston. That is what people of America saw when they visited your statue in 1876.

See my blog Archer Alexander for more

Published by Dorris Keeven-Franke

Public Historian aka Storyteller, I like to share the stories of people and places and help others reconnect to their own past.

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