Philip Reid

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For the sports journalist, see Philip Reid (author).

Philip Reid was born a slave around 1820 in Charleston, South Carolina. He came to be a master craftsman and artisan. He played a key role in the casting of the Statue of Freedom atop the United States Capitol at Washington D.C.[References 1]

The Statue of Freedom, the crowning feature atop the dome of the U.S. Capitol, was hoisted into place on December 2, 1863, amid great celebration and a 35-gun salute. Commissioned in 1855, the full-size plaster model of Freedom was completed by American sculptor Thomas Crawford in his studio in Rome, Italy, but he died suddenly in 1857 before the model left his studio. His widow shipped the model, packed into six crates and the model finally arrived in Washington in late March 1859. The model was then assembled and put on display in the Old Hall of the House, now National Statuary Hall.[References 2]

In May 1860, self-taught sculptor Clark Mills was awarded the contract by the Secretary of War to cast Freedom at his foundry off Bladensburg Road, just inside the District of Columbia. In June 1860, casting of the statue began. The first step was to disassemble the plaster model for the statue into its five main sections in order to move it from the Capitol to the foundry.[References 3] After its arrival at the Capitol, an Italian sculptor, according to Mills's son Fisk, was hired to assemble it. However, when the time came to separate the sections, the Italian sculptor refused to help unless given a pay raise. Fortunately, Philip Reid figured out that using a pulley and tackle to pull up on the lifting ring at the top of the model would reveal the joints between the sections. The statue was successfully separated into its five sections and transported to Mills's Foundry.[References 4]

The government rented Mills’s foundry for $400 a month and supplied the materials,fuel, and labor to cast the statue. Because of this arrangement, the names of the craftsmen and laborers were recorded each day in Mills’s monthly report. Philip Reid was listed as a “laborer” and was paid $1.25 a day, while other laborers were paid $1 day. There is no evidence that any of other men listed as laborers were black or enslaved. An enslaved worker was paid directly if he worked on Sunday; his owner received the payment for his work the other six days. Only Philip Reid was paid directly by the government for working on 33 Sundays.[References 5]

On April 16, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed an act abolishing involuntary servitude in the District of Columbia, and district slave owners were allowed to petition for compensation. Clark Mills petitioned for compensation for eleven slaves, including Philip Reid, and included a description of Reid in the petition. Mills wrote that Reid was “aged 42 years, mullatto [sic] color, short in statue, in good health, not prepossessing in appearance but smart in mind, a good workman in a foundry…”[References 6] Mills asked $1500 for Reid, but received only $350.40.[References 7] It is not known if Reid witnessed the assembly of the Statue of Freedom atop the Capitol Dome, but he was a free man when the last piece was put into place in December 1863. Two years later, in 1865, author S.D. Wyeth wrote in The Federal City, “Mr. Reed [as his name was spelled during the rest of his life],[References 8] the former slave, is now in business for himself, and highly esteemed by all who know him.”[References 9] Philip Reed was listed in city directories and census records as a “plasterer.” In 1870 he was listed along with a wife, Jane, whom he had married in June 1862, and a two-year old son.[References 10][References 11] In 1880 his wife was listed as Mary P., a laundress.[References 12][References 13]

Death records state that he lived into his seventies and died on February 6, 1892. Though he was initially laid to rest at Graceland Cemetery within view of the Capitol, research revealed that Philip Reid was disinterred and reburied in Columbia Harmony Cemetery in 1895. This cycle repeated itself when he was disinterred and reburied in National Harmony Memorial Park in 1959. On April 16, 2014, the 152nd anniversary of Emancipation in Washington, D.C., a memorial plaque was dedicated to Philip Reed in the cemetery that is now his final resting place.[References 14][References 15][References 16][References 17]

Notes[edit]

Amid the Civil War, work on Freedom continued. Arriving in pieces, she was cast at the Clark Mill's Foundry near Bladensburg, Maryland, under the care, ironically, of a mulatto slave. In an address to Congress 70 years later, a long-time admirer of Lady Freedom, William A. Cox, recalled the facts surrounding Freedom's construction:

"... the facts are that [Freedom's] successful taking apart and handling in parts as a model was due to the faithful service and genius of an intelligent negro in Washington named Philip Reed (sic), a mulatto slave owned by Mr. Clark Mill, and that much credit is due him for his faithful and intelligent services rendered in modeling and casting America's superb Statue of Freedom, which kisses the first rays of the aurora of the rising sun as they appear upon the apex of the Capitol's wonderful dome." (Congressional Record (1928), 1200)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Architect of the Capitol, "Philip Reid and the Statue of Freedom." Last modified June 2013. Accessed August 29, 2013. http://www.aoc.gov/philip-reid-and-statue-freedom.
  2. ^ Ibid.
  3. ^ Ibid.
  4. ^ Wyeth, S. D. The Federal City: The Ins and Abouts of Washington. Washington D.C.: Gibson Brothers, 1865. 194-195.
  5. ^ Architect of the Capitol
  6. ^ Ibid.
  7. ^ “List of Petitions.” House of RepresentativesExecutive Document No. 42. 38th Congress 1st Session,February 16, 1864.
  8. ^ Smolenyak, Megan S. Ancestry Magazine, "Philip Reid, the Slave Who Rescued Freedom." May/June 2009. Accessed April 16, 2014. http://books.google.com/books?id=u1i7lhKvCpwC&pg=PA54#v=onepage&q&f=false.
  9. ^ Wyeth
  10. ^ Ancestry Library, "1870 Census: Philip Reed." Accessed April 15, 2013. http://search.ancestrylibrary.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?h=3010717&db=1870usfedcen&indiv=try.
  11. ^ Smolenyak, Megan S. Ancestry Magazine, "Philip Reid, the Slave Who Rescued Freedom." May/June 2009. Accessed April 16, 2014. http://books.google.com/books?id=u1i7lhKvCpwC&pg=PA54#v=onepage&q&f=false.
  12. ^ Ancestry Library, "1880 Census: Philip Reed." Accessed April 15, 2013. http://search.ancestrylibrary.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?h=26938481&db=1880usfedcen&indiv=try.
  13. ^ Smolenyak, Megan S. Ancestry Magazine, "Philip Reid, the Slave Who Rescued Freedom." May/June 2009. Accessed April 16, 2014. http://books.google.com/books?id=u1i7lhKvCpwC&pg=PA54#v=onepage&q&f=false.
  14. ^ Smolenyak, Megan S. Ancestry Magazine, "Philip Reid, the Slave Who Rescued Freedom." May/June 2009. Accessed April 16, 2014. http://books.google.com/books?id=u1i7lhKvCpwC&pg=PA54#v=onepage&q&f=false.
  15. ^ Smolenyak, Megan S. Hey, America, Your Roots Are Showing, "The Slave Who Rescued Freedom." Kensington, 2012. ISBN 978-0-8065-3446-6
  16. ^ Carroll, Andrew. Here Is Where: Discovering America's Great Forgotten History, "Home." Crown, 2013. ISBN 978-0-3074-6398-2
  17. ^ Morello, Carol. The Washington Post, "Slave who helped build Capitol’s Statue of Freedom honored with historical marker." April 16, 2014. Accessed April 17, 2014. http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/slave-who-helped-build-capitols-statue-of-freedom-honored-with-historical-marker/2014/04/16/a0ddba8c-c58a-11e3-8b9a-8e0977a24aeb_story.html.

Sources[edit]

  • Architect of the Capitol, "Philip Reid and the Statue of Freedom." Last modified June 2013. Accessed August 29, 2013.http://www.aoc.gov/philip-reid-and-statue-freedom.
  • Ancestry Library, "1870Census: Philip Reed." Accessed April 15, 2013. http://search.ancestrylibrary.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?h=3010717&db=1870usfedcen&indiv=try.
  • Ancestry Library, "1880Census: Philip Reed." Accessed April 15, 2013. http://search.ancestrylibrary.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?h=26938481&db=1880usfedcen&indiv=try.
  • “List of Petitions.” House of RepresentativesExecutive Document No. 42. 38th Congress 1st Session,February 16, 1864.
  • Wyeth, S. D. The Federal City: The Ins andAbouts of Washington. Washington D.C.: Gibson Brothers, 1865. 194-195.
  • Michael Zak, "A storied record on civil rights", The Washington Times, February 23, 2006
  • Dr. Eugene Walton, "Philip Reid: Slave Caster of Freedom", The Examiner, Washington, March 1, 2005
  • Dr. Eugene Walton, "Philip Reid And The Slaves Who Built The Capitol" Video (25 min.), 2001
  • Dr. Eugene Walton, "Philip Reid and the Statue of Freedom", Social Education, September 1, 2005, Published by Thomson Gale
  • Patrick Reynolds, "A Cartoon History of the District of Columbia", Red Rose Studio, October, 1995
  • National Council for the Social Studies, "Would the Statue of Freedom be Standing Without the Help of a Slave?" - Education News, September 12, 2005
  • Megan Smolenyak, "The Slave Who Rescued Freedom," chapter 15 of Hey, America, Your Roots Are Showing, Kensington, 2012. ISBN 978-0-8065-3446-6
  • Andrew Carroll, "Home," final chapter of Here Is Where: Discovering America's Great Forgotten History, Crown, 2013, ISBN 978-0-3074-6398-2

Further reading[edit]

  • Dr. Eugene Walton, "The Biography of Philip Reid: Historical Fiction", published by Eugene Walton

External links[edit]