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Lincoln Emancipation Monument

Thanks to Mr. William Gladstone for the use of this photo of Charlotte Scott.

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The Lincoln Emancipation Monument
 
 

Charlotte Scott & President Lincoln 

By Henry Robert Burke

 

            This article is a tribute to both President Abraham Lincoln's issuance of Emancipation Proclamation and to Charlotte Scott's contribution of gratitude for being freed by the Proclamation Emancipation. The Emancipation Proclamation made it crystal clear to everyone, that the principal cause of the American Civil War (1861-1865) was the issue of slavery and exemplifies the view held by all African Americans who were freed by the Emancipation Proclamation.

            Some present day historians express an opinion that President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation did not actually free slaves. This view is based on the provision that pertained only to freedom for slaves in the states in rebellion, and the fact that the Confederacy chose to disregarded the Emancipation Proclamation. Since Abraham Lincoln was the legal president of the all the United States, including those states in rebellion, the Emancipation Proclamation was perfectly legal. While the states in rebellion did choose to ignore this fact, President Lincoln did continue to pursue his goal of winning the Civil War and thus he enforced his Executive Order. Another important aspect related to the Emancipation Proclamation was authorization for the enlistment of black soldiers in the Union Army.

            The first memorial to commemorate President Abraham Lincoln,  was initiated on the day of Lincoln’s death by Charlotte Scott, was an ex-slave from Lynchburg, Virginia, who at that time was living in Marietta, Ohio. On April 15, 1865 when the news arrived that President Lincoln had been assassinated! Charlotte was employed by her former owners, Dr. and Mrs. William S. Rucker and was serving breakfast.  Upon hear the tragic news the entire Rucker household experienced shock and grief!  Finally Charlotte was the first to speak, "Well well" she exclaimed, "Now the best friend to colored people is dead; we colored people ought to raise a monument to his memory!"

            Immediately Charlotte went to her room and gathered her small savings ($5.00). This she had saved from the first wages she had earned since her freedom had been granted by President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation issued in September 1863. She handed her $5.00 to Dr. Rucker and requested that he place the contribution in the hands of someone who would be able to organize a fund drive among colored people for the purpose of building monument for the martyred president.

            Dr. Rucker sent Charlotte's $5 contribution to an acquaintance, General T. C. Smith, a cavalry officer in the Union Army, who then transmitted the funds to James Erwin Yeatman, a Southern born  philanthropist and civic leader in St. Louis, Missouri. During the Civil War, Mr. Yeatman was a director of the Missouri Pacific Railroad and the president and also directing head of the Western  Sanitary Commission, the organization responsible for providing hospital and emergency services for Union Civil War soldiers.

            Mr. Yeatman welcomed Charlotte's mission to build the monument and immediately began. On April 26, 1865, he published General Smith's letter in a St. Louis newspaper, and he made the Western Sanitary Commission the agency responsible for securing the funds. "The Sanitary Commission will receive contributions and see that same are judiciously appropriated as intended."

            In response contributions in the amount of $12,150, (subsequently the amount increased to $16,242), were received from  "Colored" soldiers stationed at Natchez, Mississippi, under the command of General J.W. Davidson . The fund was further increased by contributions from other “Colored” sources and with accrued interest from investment the fund totaled to over $21,000.

            The result of Charlotte Scott’s $5.00 contribution culminated in the competion of the 12 foot high Lincoln Emancipation Proclamation Monument, designed and sculptured by American artist Thomas Ball. The figure of President Lincoln holding the Emancipation Proclamation document in his right hand, and with his left hand, lifting the figure of an emancipated slave. The Monument was dedicated on April 14, 1876, the 11th Anniversary of President Lincoln's death. The Lincoln Emancipation Monument now stands in Lincoln Square on East Capital Street, in Washington D.C.

            A 1892 Marietta Register Newspaper article stated, that a few years after the Civil War was over, Charlotte Scott  returned to Lynchburg, Virginia, where Mrs. Rucker had given to her four acres. Charlotte had built a cabin there and it was reported that Charlotte Scott died in Lynchburg, Virginia in 1892 at the age of 109 years.

 

 (The Lincoln Emancipation Monument in Lincoln Park should not to be confused with the Lincoln Memorial.)

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Lincoln Memorial - Washington, D.C.