The idea for this monument came from Charlotte Scott, a former slave from Virginia who, upon hearing of Lincoln’s Assassination, told her employer “the colored people have lost their best friend on earth”. She wanted to honor Lincoln with a monument and she wanted to donate the first money she had earned in freedom, five dollars, for that monument. Her employer forwarded her idea – and her money – to the Western Sanitary Commission in St. Louis with a letter stating: “A poor woman of Marietta, Ohio, one of those made free by President Lincoln’s Proclamation, proposes that a monument to their dear friend be erected by the colored people of the United States… Would it not be well to take up this suggestion and make it known to the freedmen?”
The commission acted and freed men and woman contributed a memorial fund of $18,000, much less than sculptor Ball’s customary price. However, Ball accepted the offer saying, “…you must remember that every cent of this money was contributed by the freed men and women.”
Symbolism: In his right hand, Lincoln holds an unrolled copy of the Emancipation Proclamation. The podium (which signifies the Union) contains thirteen stars that circle the base of the podium; thirty-six stars (for the number of states in the Union at the time Lincoln was assassinated) circle the top of the podium, and a bas-relief of George Washington.
The muscular figure of the former slave kneels at Lincoln’s feet, his wrist shackles broken. Behind the freedman are visible shackles, a whip, and whipping post. Entwining the post is a rose vine, a symbol that these trappings are things of the past.