On the morning after Lincoln's death in 1865, sixty-year old Charlotte Scott, a former Virginia slave living in Ohio, donated five dollars to her employer and asked that it be used toward a monument for the president. A campaign among freed slaves raised $18,000 for the memorial. Frederick Douglass delivered the keynote speech at the monument's dedication on April 14, 1876, which was attended by President Ulysses S. Grant and other political figures. The Emancipation Monument served as the primary national memorial to Lincoln until 1922, when the Lincoln Memorial was dedicated in West Potomac Park. Sculptor Thomas Ball depicted a life-size figure of Abraham Lincoln, extending one hand over a kneeling African American man while holding a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation in the other hand. The former slave is depicted as rising, with broken shackles on his wrists. The figure was modeled after Archer Alexander, the last Missouri enslaved man captured under the Fugitive Slave Law.
In Grateful Memory of
This monument was erected
by the western sanitary commission
of Saint Louis MO:
With funds contributed solely by
emancipated citizens of the United States
Declared free by his proclamation
January 1st A.D. 1863.
The first contribution of five dollars was made by Charlotte Scott a freed woman of Virginia
Being her first earnings in freedom
By her suggestion and request
On the day she heard of President Lincoln's death
To build a monument to his memory
And upon this Act
Sincerely believed to be an act of justice
Warranted by the constitution
Upon military necessity
The considerate judgement of mankind
The gracious favor of almighty God
A. Lincoln Emancipation
Proclamation Jany. 1. 1863
Western Sanitary Commission
James E. Yeatman President.
C.S. Greeley Treas:
Geo. Partridge. Dr, J.B. Johnson.
Wm C. Eliot.
Another panel at the bottom of the podium is engraved: