In 1993, artist Ed Hamilton was commissioned by the DC Commission for the Arts & Humanities to design a memorial for the African American Civil War Memorial. Previously, not one monument in the District honored the 178,000 Black soldiers who fought in the Civil War. The Spirit of Freedom is the first to commemorate the United States Colored Troops, who came into being in 1863 after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, stating that former slaves were to be received into the armed services.
The sculpture depicts a line of Civil War infantry and sailors, as well as the family figures they were leaving behind. It stands on a plaza in one of Washington’s oldest Black neighborhoods, at 10th and U Street. According to Hamilton, it is “a narrative piece… [that] tells what they are really fighting for."
ARTIST: Ed Hamilton
DATE CREATED: 1998
DIMENSIONS: 9 ft. (274.3 cm)