More Info on Soldiers & Sailors Monument

Ex-slave comforts woman (Miss Liberty)?

Plaque on east side of monument with emancipation symbolism

This is a very interesting plaque on the east side of the monument that has been interpreted as sympathetic to the emancipation of slaves following the Civil War.  You will note the African American man, presumably an ex-slave, in a position of authority comforting a woman who appears to be crying.  One interpretation is that the woman is Miss Liberty who is crying over the destruction of her country.  Note the palm tree in the background, which places this scene in the South.  The smaller, younger looking person, who seems to be showing the woman the way forward may represent an angle pointing in the direction of a better future for the now reunited nation.  This is but one possible interpretation of this fresco.  It seems almost certain that it has something to do with emancipation, given the prominence of the African American man, but the exact meaning of all the symbolism seems to have been lost to the ages.  Any serious attempt at an alternate interpretation or of a refinement of the one presented here is welcome.

3 thoughts on “More Info on Soldiers & Sailors Monument

  1. There appears to be a similar plaque on at least two other Civil War Monuments in the US – One in Holyoke, Massachusetts and the other in Greenwood Cemetery in New York. The detail is slightly different in each but the overall scene, with people and the tree, is the same.

    For more information go to the site below and scroll down until you come to the same bronze plaques.


    • Thanks, Tom. This is very interesting. I have written the historian at Greenwood asking the origin of their interpretation of the plaque, which I think may be overly simplistic. I see nothing in this scene that would indicate that the child is in any sense mourning. The child (or whatever that figure represents) appears more in the role of a guide. I can’t see how the woman could be his mother. Further research is needed. I’ll let you know what I learn from Greenwood.

      • My latest interpretation is that the woman is suppose to be Miss Liberty and that’s a flag draped over her shoulder, and she is weeping for the state of the nation. The smaller figure, it has been suggested to me, might be an angel pointing the way to a better future. Since only two additional places have this same fresco and they are slightly different, tells me that these were not boilerplate like the other frescos, and that this one had to be special ordered.

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