Sunday, January 3, 2021

A Replica Lincoln Statue is Removed in Boston, Massachusetts. The Original Statue Remains in Washington D.C.


In historical writing and analysis, PRESENTISM is the introduction of present-day ideals and perspectives into depictions or interpretations of the past. I believe presentism is a form of cultural bias, and it creates a distorted understanding of the subject matter. Reading modern notions of morality into the past is committing the error of presentism. I'm well aware that historical accounts are written by people and can be slanted, so I try my hardest to present articles that are fact-based and well researched, without interjecting any of my personal opinions.

NOTE: I present articles without regard to race, color, political party, religion, national origin, citizenship status, gender, age, disability, or military status. What I present are facts — NOT ALTERNATIVE FACTS — about the subject.
 What you won't find are rumors, lies, unfounded claims, character assassinations, hateful statements, insults, or attempts at being funny.
PLEASE PRACTICE HISTORICISM, WHICH IS THE INTERPRETATION OF THE PAST IN ITS OWN CONTEXT.


A replica of a controversial statue of Abraham Lincoln standing over a newly emancipated Black man—the figure modeled on Archer Alexander, the last man recaptured under the Fugitive Slave Act—has been removed from Park Square in Boston, Massachusetts. The original statue in Washington’s Capitol Hill neighborhood at Lincoln Park was also criticized over the summer during demonstrations following the police killing of George Floyd on May 25, 2020.





Officials placed the statue under police guard and surrounded it with protective barriers after a group of demonstrators tore down a statue of former Confederate Albert Pike a few blocks away and threatened to do the same with the Lincoln statue.

The statue by Thomas Ball depicts a shirtless Black man, on his knees, in front of a clothed and standing Abraham Lincoln. Ball called his artwork “Emancipation Group.” In one hand, Lincoln holds a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation, while the other arm is stretched out over the Black man. Ball intended it to look as though the man were rising to freedom, but to many, it looks like he is bowing down or supplicating to Abraham Lincoln.

Archer Alexander, who modeled for Ball, was not originally freed by Lincoln but by his own actions. He escaped his bondage in the middle of the night in 1861 and repeatedly evaded capture by his former enslavers.
A statue of Abraham Lincoln and a formerly enslaved negro man has been taken down in Park Square in Boston, Massachusett, after an intense debate and a petition to remove the work.


Boston Museum founder Moses Kimball donated the bronze recasting of the original Ball statue in Washington D.C. to the city of Boston in 1879. The replica will be placed in temporary storage while the city figures out “a new publicly accessible location [i.e. a museum] where it could be better explained.”
The Emancipation statue is driven away on a flatbed truck after it was removed from its location in Park Square in Boston, Massachusetts, on December 29, 2020.


The Emancipation Memorial statue was commissioned and paid for by a group of Black Americans, many of whom were formerly enslaved. But the group did not have a say in the design of the statue; that distinction went to an all-White committee and the artist, Ball, who was White.

The original statue was dedicated on April 14, 1876, the 11th anniversary of Lincoln’s assassination, before a crowd of 25,000 that included then-President Ulysses S. Grant. Abolitionist Frederick Douglass spoke at the unveiling, noting that the “Great Emancipator” Lincoln was reluctant to free enslaved people, and when he did so, it applied only to enslaved people in Confederate states. Enslaved people in most Union states were not freed until December 1865.

Days after the unveiling, Douglass was the first to criticize the monument and suggest an additional monument be placed in the same park, to better represent negroes, in a letter to the editor of the National Republican Newspaper.

The letter below, written by Frederick Douglass in 1876, was published in the National Republican Newspaper just days after the monument ceremony in Washington D.C.


A Suggestion.

To the Editors of the National Republican:

Sir, 
Admirable as is the monument by Mr. Ball in Lincoln Park, it does not, as it seems to me, tell the whole truth, and perhaps no one monument could be made to tell the whole truth of any subject which it might be designed to illustrate. The mere act of breaking the negro's chains was the act of Abraham Lincoln and is beautifully expressed in this monument. But the act by which the negro was made a citizen of the United States and invested with the elective franchise was pre-eminently the act of President Ulysses S. Grant, and this is nowhere seen in the Lincoln monument. 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 (body resting on the legs/knees and the head raised) on his knees like a four-footed animal, but erect on his feet like a man. There is room in Lincoln Park for another monument, and I throw out this suggestion to the end that it may be taken up and acted upon.

Frederick Douglass       



Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.

1 comment:

  1. I always learn something new from your posts. Thank you for all of your effort.

    ReplyDelete

The Digital Research Library of Illinois History Journal™ is rated PG-13. Please comment accordingly. Comments not on the article's topic will be deleted, along with advertisements.