Sculpted by Thomas Ball in 1876, the full size version of ‘the Emancipation Memorial’, sometimes referred to as the “Lincoln Memorial” resides in Lincoln Park in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington, D.C. (map)
Ball was Methuen scion Edward Searles‘ much patronized artist. Prior to sculpting the full sized piece, several smaller ‘demo’ models were produced and sold. This version standing in the entry hall of Methuen’s City Hall (neé Searles High School) is one of the few publically viewable Thomas Ball pieces left in Methuen.
The monument depicts Abraham Lincoln in his role of the “Great Emancipator” freeing a male African American slave modeled on Archer Alexander. The ex-slave is depicted crouching shirtless and shackled at the president’s feet. The monument has long been the subject of controversy. Despite being paid for by African Americans, because of the supplicant and inferior position of the Black figure, the miage is condemned as “a monument entrenched in and perpetuating racist ideology”.