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 a slave 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 slave look like Archer Alexander, a real-life 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 former slave Frederick Douglass, who had also escaped to freedom on his own, and who said 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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Nearby Offbeat Places

Grave of Lincoln's Unwitting AttendantGrave of Lincoln's Unwitting Attendant, Washington, DC - < 1 mi.
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In the region:
Father of the Soviet Hydrogen Bomb, Washington, DC - 3 mi.

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December 4, 2020

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