Lincoln or Emancipation Monument
Raphael Tuck & Sons (British, founded 1866)
DimensionsSheet/image : 5 1/2 x 3 3/8 in. (13.97 x 8.57 cm)
Credit LineHope College Collection
LabelThe Emancipation Monument in Washington, D.C. was designed and sculpted in 1876 by artist Thomas Ball. It portrays Abraham Lincoln standing with his hand on a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation as he encourages a kneeling Black man to stand up and throw off the shackles of slavery. The African American figure in the sculpture was modeled on Archer Alexander, who was born into slavery but escaped in 1861 to join the Union cause. Funding for the monument is said to have begun with donations from other formerly enslaved people and the keynote speaker at the monument's dedication was the great African American abolitionist and statesmen Frederick Douglass. Despite the good intentions behind the sculpture, however, it has been criticized from the time it was unveiled for the emphatic difference in stature and apparent power between Lincoln and the man he is ostensibly setting free. Just five days after the sculpture's dedication, Douglass sent a letter to a Washington newspaper in which he wrote: "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."