Emancipation Memorial depicting a formerly enslaved man with broken shackles on his wrist and Abraham Lincoln standing above him
Credit: Wikimedia
Original Author: U.S. Government
Created: 1876, sculpture dedicated; 2009 photograph
Medium: Digital photograph

Emancipation Memorial

This bronze sculpture titled Emancipation Memorial, and sometimes referred to as the Freedman's Memorial, stands in Lincoln Park on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. President Abraham Lincoln is depicted holding a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation in his right hand and extending his left arm in a benevolent gesture over the figure of a formerly enslaved man. With broken shackles on his wrists, the freedman is on one knee, which can be interpreted as either rising or crouching. His lowly posture created controversy around the design of the monument, which was criticized by Frederick Douglass. The model for the newly freed man was Archer Alexander, who, in fact, had successfully fled enslavement during the Civil War.

Created by sculptor Thomas Ball and dedicated in 1876, the statue was paid for by contributions from free Blacks. During the dedication ceremony Frederick Douglas addressed the 25,000 people in attendance, among them President Ulysses S. Grant.

Sponsors  |  View all