Born in 1806 in Virginia, he was taken to Missouri in 1829. In 1863, he would overhear his enslaver plotting to destroy the local railroad bridge. He would risk his own life and that of his family, to inform the Union Troops of what was about to happen, thereby saving hundreds of lives. Using the Underground Railroad, he fled to St. Louis where he was given refuge and protection by a Unitarian Minister that had founded Washington University, named William Greenleaf Eliot. Archer Alexander was emancipated by President Abraham Lincoln by September 24, 1863. When Lincoln was assassinated in 1865, a freedwoman named Charlotte Scott, would lead the formerly enslaved people of America, in the black people’s effort to create the Freedman’s Memorial. Totally funded by the formerly enslaved of our country, Eliot would see that it was Archer Alexander shown rising after breaking his own chains. The Emancipation Memorial was dedicated on the 11th Anniversary of Lincoln’s assassination, April 14, 1876. Archer Alexander was the last Missouri enslaved man captured under the Fugitive Slave law.


The Western Sanitary Commission

Established by General James Fremont in St. Louis at the beginning of the Civil War, it was a non-governmental non-profit that provided hospitals and nurses to the Union Troops, both black and white. Fremont was in charge of the Western Command, and gave the WSC full authority, to aid all Union Troops west of the Appalachians.

Saw the dream

The formerly enslaved people of America raised over $16,000, with three-fourths of the funds from the U.S.Colored Troops that the WSC had provided aid to during the Civil War. When Reconstruction ended, and it looked like their dream would not happen, William G. Eliot would ask his friend, the sculptor Thomas Ball, to donate his sculpture, which was changed to show Archer Alexander. It was dedicated on April 14, 1876 before an audience of over 25,000 formerly enslaved people.

Archer Alexander’s Story

Born in Virginia in 1806

near Lexington Virginia, his mother was enslaved by the Alexander family. In 1829, he was taken to Missouri. In 1863, he overheard his enslaver was involved in a plot to destroy the local railroad bridge. He would risk is life to inform the Union Troops…

To Learn More

The Last Fugitive Slave

he fled for his life with the Slave Patrol in pursuit. Caught by the patrol at the Missouri River, he managed to escape, making his way to St. Louis…

To Learn More

The Unknown Hero

is seen with President Abraham Lincoln on the Emancipation Memorial, erected by the formerly enslaved of America who felt they had lost their best friend. With Lincoln in Washington, DC this is the last enslaved man in Missouri, to be captured under the Fugitive Slave Law…

To Read More

William G. Eliot

would see that Archer Alexander’s story would be known after his death…

To Learn More

Archer Alexander in the News

A Louisville Family Learns About Their Ties To A St. Louis Slave Who Saved Lives… St. Louis Public Radio Fresh Air by Chad Davis March 2019

For the past 30 years, Keith Winstead has been tracing the many generations of his family history.

When I first started genealogy, I thought I’d be lucky to go and find a third great-grandparent. I got pictures now of 10 generations,” Winstead said.

On a cold and windy day he was at Bellefontaine Cemetery with about 15 other family members who hail from different parts of the U.S., such as Louisville, Atlanta, New York and Cincinnati.

This is the Alexander family, and they’re not just any random family; they have significant ties to an American legend: They’re closely related to Muhammad Ali. On a winter day, they gathered with directions in hand to walk the same path as a local legend, a St. Louis resident and civil war hero. His name was Archer Alexander, and he was a slave.

Encyclopedia Virginia (EV) is a reliable and user-friendly resource on the history and culture of Virginia. Encyclopedia Virginia anthologizes the best and most current scholarship that exists on a given topic. A project of Virginia Humanities in partnership with the Library of VirginiaEV publishes topical and biographical entries written by scholars, edited to be accessible to a general audience, and vigorously fact checked. Content creation is a work in progress, with new entries published regularly.

Archer Alexander was a formerly enslaved man who served as the model for the Emancipation Monument dedicated on the eleventh anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. Alexander was born enslaved in Rockbridge County in the early nineteenth century. In 1829, Alexander’s enslaver, James Alexander, brought him to Missouri, where Alexander worked as an enslaved laborer, eventually being sold to members of the Pitman family. During the American Civil War (1861-1865), Alexander alerted Union officials that Confederate sympathizers were hiding arms and ammunition in a local icehouse. Suspected as an informant, he was forced to flee to St. Louis, where he obtained an order of protection from the Union provost marshal. Alexander took a job with Unitarian minister William Greenleaf Eliot but was apprehended by slave catchers sent by his enslaver Richard Pitman. “

To read the entire entry

Website Built by