Archer Alexander (1806-1880) was Missouri’s last fugitive slave that earned his freedom for important services to the U.S. military and rises today before Lincoln on the Emancipation Monument in Washington, DC’s Lincoln Park.
In January of 1863, a black slave named Archer, overheard neighborhood men talking about how they had guns at the ready. They were planning the collapse of the Union’s vital link, the North Missouri Railroad’s bridge across the Peruque Creek. Without thought for himself, Archer informed the Union soldiers nearby. Within days, after the discovery of the informant’s identity, a lynch mob was on the hunt for Archer, who had risked his and his family’s life.
Now a fugitive slave, he used the network of friends, the Underground Railroad, to make his way to St. Louis where he would find refuge in the home of a Unitarian minister and founder of Washington University, William Greenleaf Eliot. With the help of Eliot and the Western Sanitary Commission, Archer would become a free man on September 26, 1863.
When President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated on April 14, 1865, the formerly enslaved of America were horrified at the loss of the best friend they had ever had and joined together to honor him as Charlotte Scott had suggested. The Emancipation Monument, which was dedicated by the great orator Frederick Douglass on April 16, 1876, would honor Lincoln by portraying him asking the former slave to rise from his knees. Archer Alexander, was the last fugitive slave captured under civil law in Missouri. This memorial to Lincoln which stands in Lincoln Park in Washington, D.C. is the first monument to be entirely paid for and erected in our Nation’s capital by the formerly enslaved yet does not reveal the identity or the heroic acts of Archer’s lifre.
The identity of the slave on the monument was first revealed in The Story of Archer Alexander – From Slavery to Freedom March 30, 1863 published in 1885. Eliot’s slave narrative was published after Archer’s death and was constricted by the times in which they lived. Now modern science and historical research have revealed there is much more to this man’s life that has been left untold. Here we share the real man, Archer Alexander, fresh and unwashed …
Archer Alexander is rising to greet his hard-earned freedom, recognized by President Abraham Lincoln on the Emancipation Monument erected in 1876 in Washington, DC by the free and formerly enslaved black people of America.