Thirty-five years before writing the Emancipation Proclamation to free 3.5 million slaves, Abraham Lincoln had worked as a ferry-boatman taking goods downriver to the larger cities of New Orleans. With every trip Lincoln saw men, women and children sold on the slave blocks, ripping families apart, examining them like cattle, and selling to the highest bidder. Chattel-slavery, traditional slavery, was the selling of people as their “personal property.” Children inherited slave status from their mothers. The atrocities of slavery forever changed Lincoln, “This is a disgrace. If I ever get a lick at this thing, I’ll hit it hard.”
“In 1841 you and I had together a tedious low-water trip, on a Steam Boat from Louisville to St. Louis. You may remember, as I well do, that from Louisville to the mouth of the Ohio there were, on board, ten or a dozen slaves, shackled together with irons. That sight was a continual torment to me; and I see something like it every time I touch the Ohio, or any other slave-border.”
“Whenever I hear any one arguing for slavery I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.” March 17, 1865
Lincoln was determined to make a difference. He became a lawyer, then a Congressman, then the President.” He left a life of comfort, his family, and a successful business. He ended slavery, and the United States went to war. The Republican North wanted to stop the expansion of slavery; the Democratic south wanted to expand slavery. 646,392 Union Soldiers, 60% of the Union Army, died to free black slaves because they knew this was an evil that must be stopped. Abraham Lincoln had addressed the issue head on, and in 1865, Congress passed the 13th Amendment to the Constitution to end slavery.
In April, 1865, President Lincoln visited the fallen capital of the Confederacy, Richmond, Virginia. Thousands of African Americans rushed to see the leader who had freed them from slavery. One former slave threw himself at the feet of Lincoln. “Don’t kneel to me,” Lincoln replied. “That is not right. You must kneel to God only and thank Him for the liberty you will hereafter enjoy.”
Eleven days later, Lincoln was assassinated.
Eleven years later, donations had poured in from all over the country. The first $5 was donated by former slave, Charlotte Scott, of Virginia who sent it with the express purpose of building a memorial to her beloved Lincoln.
Officially called the Emancipation Memorial, it was often referred to as the Freedmen’s Memorial because it was funded by the ex-slaves in honor of the man who freed them. Lincoln is holding the Emancipation Proclamation in one hand and a black man is kneeling at his feet. The ex-slave is depicted on one knee, with one fist clenched and the broken shackles laying at the President’s feet.
Now we see mobs who want to tear down this beloved statue and erase the history of freedom in America. As one black man on Turning Point declared, “Don’t erase MY history.” ■