Statue of Abraham Lincoln and a slave.

Lincoln Frees Enslaved Man

Field review by the editors.

Washington, DC

Unveiled in 1876, on the 11th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's death, "Emancipation" (originally named "Freedom's Memorial") depicts Lincoln in his presidential frock coat, waving a hand over an enslaved man crouching at his feet. Presto, you are free!

Designed by Thomas Ball (who later sculpted P.T. Barnum), the statue went through several conceptual revisions. One of the last was to make the man look like Archer Alexander, a real-life former slave who Lincoln never met -- and never emancipated; Alexander escaped to freedom on his own. But Alexander was a friend of one of the white civic boosters who controlled the monument's design, so his face was added to the sculpture.

The statue's plaque states that it was paid for "with funds contributed solely by emancipated citizens of the United States." The keynote speaker at its dedication was Frederick Douglass, who had also escaped to freedom on his own, and who said that the sculpture's design, frankly, could have been better.

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Lincoln Frees Enslaved Man

Lincoln Park

100 11th St. SE, Washington, DC
In Lincoln Park, a mile due east of the U.S. Capitol, midway between E. Capitol St. NE and SE, at the intersection of 12th St. NE and SE.
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Washington Never Slept HereWashington Never Slept Here, Washington, DC - 1 mi.
In the region:
World's Oldest Surviving Wrought Iron Bridge, Savage, MD - 19 mi.

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