Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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ALEXANDER, Archer, freedman, born near Richmond, Virginia, about 1810" died in St. Louis, Mo., 8 December 1879. He was a slave, and fled to St. Louis, then under martial law, in 1863, and was formally liberated the same year. He served as the model for "the freedman" in the bronze group by Thomas Ball, standing in the capitol grounds in Washington, and known as "Freedom's Memorial." In 1831 his young master took him to Missouri. During the reign of terror in that state at the outbreak of the war he learned that the pro-slavery party had cut the timbers of a certain bridge so that it should break down under a train carrying a detachment of national troops about to pass over it. At the risk of his life he conveyed the information to a well-known union man, and the detachment was saved. Alexander was suspected as the informant and arrested by a pro-slavery committee. He made his escape to and secured employment in St. Louis under a provost marshal's certificate. Until the emancipation proclamation assured his permanent freedom he was in constant danger from kidnappers. Although almost wholly illiterate, he had a shrewd intelligence and was a skilled and efficient workman. A stone commemorating his capture as a fugitive slave has been raised on the spot where he was taken when making his escape from slavery. See "The Story of Archer Alexander" (Boston, 1886).
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