THIS DAY IN HER-HISTORY DECEMBER 2, 1863
Statue of Freedom
Into the frosty air, December 2, 1863 at 12:00 noon, as winds from the north-west blew hard and cold, the Statue of Freedom rose in pieces onto her mount, the globe of the world above the Capitol dome in Washington D. C. - free, sacred and sovereign.
President Lincoln, on the first of the same year signed the Emancipation Proclamation which was to end slavery in America. And just after he made his famous Gettysburg Address on November 9th, the “Statue of Freedom” began her ascension amidst the bloody Civil War.
Thirty-five cannons representing thirty-five states shook the earth and saluted her through the wind as supportive responses shot-out from forts nearby. The crowd was modest and festivities were seemingly hushed as traditional declarations and celebrations were squelched due to the young country’s unrest. The Speech That Was Never Given by Captain Charles F. Thomas, Superintendent of Iron Works and one responsible for the statue’s installation, is a good example of how things may not have gone as planned that day as a war between its own people raged on. (The Speech That Was Never Given by Don Kennon. https://uschs.wordpress.com/2012/12/03/december-2-1863-the-speech-that-was-never-given-at-the-capitol/#comment-10420)
In a letter from the Architect of the Capitol, George M. White explains: In 1863, a derrick with wire rope connected to a steam engine lifted the five sections of the Statue of Freedom to the roof of the Capitol. A second derrick, with cables powered by the same engine, lifted each of the five sections to the base of the tholos. From there they were transferred to a hand-powered winch mounted on a scaffold above the dome; this winch was used to set each section in place.
Today, there is barely a peep of remembrance for the events of that day and her almost mysterious and secret ascent as she, for the most part, has been forgotten by a country and a people she was meant to inspire. Though men helped to shape her from Old World to New, it is a Woman and a Mother that she embodies; a symbol of Freedom, an idea still evolving in this 21st century.
Like the gold capstone of the freemason’s pyramid and the aluminum tip on the Washington Monument, one could say she has all the elements of a well-protected mystery. She is hidden in plain-view, has the vision of an “all-seeing eye” and greets the rising sun every day.
The world-globe and base on which she stands is surrounded by victory wreaths and the words chiseled out, E Pluribus Unum, Out of Many – One. She is at the pinnacle of a building that represents power and purpose, the U.S. Capitol, and yet there is a difference. Her rounded and soft silhouette is that of a woman’s rather than the hard-edged stone and symmetrical forms of Masonic tradition.
To add to her enigma, as she stands for liberty and human justice, a slave named Phillip Reid helped to bring her into existence. It is an amazing testament to the promise of America that a man who had no freedom for himself, would help build a representation of freedom for everyone else.
The story of Phillip Reid, one born into slavery c.1820 in Charleston, South Carolina, is a story unto itself. The statue would not be before us today without Reid’s expertise and intuitive knowledge. Much more will be revealed in the up-coming book, Beloved Freedom - Secret on the U.S. Capitol Dome by Katya Miller.
Raised to her lofty heights 155 years ago, the Statue of Freedom remains the very essence of freedom, unity and peace though ever-ready to fight an injustice with sword at hand. She is, respectfully, America - Protectress of Land and People. We must look up to see her.
Katya Miller & Kristen Farquhar