From Five Dollars and a Dream to a Monument in the Nation's Capital
The Emancipation Monument, also known as Freedom's Memorial or the Lincoln Statue, was dedicated in Washington, D.C. on April 14, 1876. It was paid for solely by donations from emancipated citizens and Black Union soldiers.
Charlotte Scott, a freed woman of Virginia, upon hearing of President Lincoln's assassination, announced her desire that the Black people of the country erect a monument to him. She gave her first five dollars earned in freedom and so began her dream. Hundreds, likely thousands, of formerly enslaved Americans and Black Union soldiers contributed to this monument.
Rev. William Greenleaf Eliot and the members of the Western Sanitary Commission, a war-relief organization which also supported education efforts for freed Americans, helped move Charlotte Scott's vision towards reality.
At Rev. Eliot's request, the likeness of his friend, the formerly enslaved Archer Alexander who Eliot had harbored as a fugitive slave, was included in the final monument.
Charlotte Scott’s vision was also embraced by John Mercer Langston who, like Charlotte, lived in Marietta, Ohio. Langston was a well-known abolitionist and future public servant who had successfully enlisted hundreds of Black soldiers in the Union Army during the Civil War.
President Abraham Lincoln is recognized in this monument for his leadership in ending slavery in the United States.
And, on the day of the dedication, former slave, abolitionist and renowned orator Frederick Douglass delivered a powerful and heartfelt speech reflecting not only on the life and accomplishments of President Lincoln but also communicating the importance of this, the first, monument in the country to Lincoln's memory--a monument conceived of by a freed woman and paid for solely from donations from Black Americans.
A Friend of Lincoln
WILLIAM GREENLEAF ELIOT
An Abolitionist and Minister Who Committed to Making Charlotte Scott's Dream a Reality
JOHN MERCER LANGSTON
Abolitionist, Attorney, Lawmaker and Educator Who Participated in Fundraising for the Monument
Read His Emancipation Proclamation