This particular bronze of The Freedman is unique among John Quincy Adams Ward’s casts, for it commemorates an important Civil War battle and honors an extraordinary regiment. The manacle in the figure’s right hand is engraved with a tribute to the 54th Massachusetts Volunteers, the first black troops recruited in the North. They were massacred at Fort Wagner in South Carolina on July 18, 1863; Ward’s figure of emancipation was obviously regarded as an appropriate memorial to these black troops. The manacles of this piece can be opened and closed, a powerful statement of the still unresolved issue of slavery at that time.
John Quincy Adams Ward, The Freedman, 1863. Bronze. 2000.15, Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas.