"THAT WHICH WE DEDICATE TO-DAY SPEAKS OF THE MOST IMPORTANT ACT IN OUR ANNALS, AND COMMEMORATES ONE OF THE GREAT ERAS OF THE REPUBLIC—THE EMANCIPATION OF FOUR MILLIONS OF SLAVES!"
PRINCE, Frederick O., et al. Bronze Group Commemorating Emancipation. A Gift to the City of Boston from Hon. Moses Kimball. Dedicated December 6, 1879. (Boston): Printed by Order of the City Council, 1879. Octavo, original printed gray-blue paper wrappers. $450.
First edition of this work commemorating the dedication of the controversial Emancipation Memorial in Boston in 1879, in original wrappers.
This work was released to celebrate the Emancipation Memorial in Park Square created by Boston native Thomas Ball. The booklet features a history of the memorial; the Emancipation Proclamation; and a full recounting of the events at the dedication including the mayor's lengthy speech and a poem by John Greenleaf Whittier. The Boston version of the memorial was actually a copy of an original Washington, D.C. version. The Boston statue was commissioned and donated by the city by a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, Moses Kimball. The frontispiece captures the bronze statue as it once looked in situ. As the controversial statue featured Lincoln gesturing over a crouching slave clad only in shorts and the broken shackles around his wrists and ankles, the statue was removed by the Boston Art Commission in 2020. However, while the pose was controversial, the freed slave portion of the statue was actually based on a photograph of an escaped slave named Alexander Archer who was taken in by William Greenleaf Eliot. Though Ball had already prepared a marble model of the original statue, he was instructed to include an actual freedman and, thus, Alexander Archer was chosen. Interestingly, the statue was controversial even its time. Many supported it, used to the kneeling slave as an abolitionist trope and its associations with prayer. Speaking about the nearly identical D.C. version, Frederick Douglass wrote in a letter to the National Republican, "The negro here, though rising, is still on his knees and nude… What I want to see before I die is a monument representing the negro, not couchant on his knees like a four-footed animal, but erect on his feet like a man." This booklet captures an important moment at the end of Reconstruction, when progress for Black Americans seemed more possible than it would just a few years later. City Document No. 126. Faint pencil shelf number and owner signatures on wrappers. Small letter "W" in pen on rear wrapper.
Interior fine, chip at base of spine, a few stray marks to rear wrapper, and only minor rubbing and toning to extremities. A near-fine copy.