Emancipation Memorial

Lincoln Park; East end
Near E Capitol & 13th

Category: Monuments & Markers

Used in the following map:

DC Labor Map

The Emancipation Memorial, also known as the Freedman’s Memorial or the Emancipation Group, and sometimes referred to as the "Lincoln Memorial" before the present more prominent so-named memorial was built, is a monument in Lincoln Park in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington, D.C.[1][2]

Designed and sculpted by Thomas Ball and erected in 1876, the monument depicts Abraham Lincoln in his role of the "Great Emancipator" freeing a male African American slave modeled on Archer Alexander. The ex-slave is depicted crouching shirtless and shackled at the president's feet.[1]

The monument has long been the subject of controversy. According to information from American University:

If there is one slavery monument whose origins are highly political, the Freedman’s memorial is it. The development process for this memorial started immediately after Abraham Lincoln’s assassination and ended, appropriately enough, near the end of Reconstruction in 1876. In many ways, it exemplified and reflected the hopes, dreams, striving, and ultimate failures of reconstruction.[1]

Despite being paid for by African Americans, because of the supplicant and inferior position of the Black figure, historian Kirk Savage in 1997 condemned it as "a monument entrenched in and perpetuating racist ideology".
- Wikipedia

"One of the inscribed tablets upon the pedestal informs us that the first contribution was the first free earnings of Charlotte Scott, a freed woman of Virginia, at whose suggestion, on the day of Lincoln's death, this monument fund was begun. This statue...was unveiled on April 14, 1876, the eleventh anniversary of Lincoln's assassination, Frederick Douglass making the oration."
- Rand McNally's Handy Guide to Washington