Boston Takes Down a Lincoln Statue

Also features a kneeling slave, and critics called it demeaning
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 29, 2020 1:26 PM CST
Boston Removes Statue of Lincoln With Slave
In this June 25, 2020, file photo, a statue that depicts a freed slave kneeling at President Abraham Lincoln's feet rests on a pedestal in Boston.   (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

A statue of Abraham Lincoln with a freed slave appearing to kneel at his feet has been removed from its perch in downtown Boston. Workers removed the Emancipation Memorial, also known as the Emancipation Group and the Freedman's Memorial, early Tuesday from a park where it had stood since 1879, per the AP. City officials had agreed in late June to take down the memorial after complaints and a bitter debate over the design. Mayor Marty Walsh acknowledged at the time that the statue made residents and visitors alike "uncomfortable." The bronze statue is a copy of a monument paid for by freed Black donors and erected in Washington, DC, in 1876 to celebrate the freeing of slaves in America. It was based on Archer Alexander, a Black man who escaped slavery, helped the Union Army and was the last man recaptured under the Fugitive Slave Act.

The copy, financed by white politician and circus showman Moses Kimball, was installed in Boston because the city was home to the statue's white creator, Thomas Ball. But while some saw the shirtless man rising to his feet while shaking off the broken shackles on his wrists, others perceived him as kneeling before Lincoln, his white emancipator. The inscription on both statues reads: "A race set free and the country at peace. Lincoln rests from his labors." More than 12,000 people had signed a petition demanding the statue's removal, and Boston's public arts commission voted unanimously to take it down. The statue was to be placed in storage until the city decides whether to display it in a museum. Last summer, protesters vowed to tear down the original statue in Washington, prompting the National Guard to deploy a detachment to guard it. Read more about the statue here.

(More Boston stories.)

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