“A Suggestion.” (April 19, 1876)


In this letter to the editor of the National Republican, dated April 19, 1876, Frederick Douglass points out the limitations of the Emancipation Memorial in representing the history of Black Americans’ freedom. He writes this just days after he gave a speech at the Emancipation Memorial’s dedication.


To the Editor of the National Republican:

Sir: Admirable as is the monument by Mr. Ball in Lincoln Park, it does not, as it seems to me, tell the whole truth, and perhaps no one monument could be made to tell the whole truth of any subject which it might be designed to illustrate. The mere act of breaking the negro’s chains was the act of Abraham Lincoln, and is beautifully expressed in this monument. But the act by which the negro was made a citizen of the United States and invested was the elective franchise was pre-eminently the act of President U. S. Grant, and this is nowhere seen in the Lincoln monument. The negro here, though rising is still on his knees and nude. What I want to see before I die is a monument representing the negro, not couchant on his knees like a four-footed animal, but erect on his feet like a man. There is room in Lincoln park for another monument, and I throw out this suggestion to the end that it may be taken up and acted upon.

Frederick Douglass.

“Oration by Frederick Douglass, delivered on the occasion of the unveiling of the Freedman’s monument in memory of Abraham Lincoln in Lincoln Park, Washington, D.C., April 14, 1876.” (April 14, 1876)
APA Citation:
Douglass, Frederick. “A Suggestion.” (April 19, 1876). (2021, October 28). In Encyclopedia Virginia.
MLA Citation:
Douglass, Frederick. "“A Suggestion.” (April 19, 1876)" Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Humanities, (28 Oct. 2021). Web. 18 May. 2024
Last updated: 2021, October 28
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