The Civil War Round Table of the Mid-Ohio Valley will host a historical marker dedication ceremony on Saturday, June 17, 2023, to recognize Charlotte Scott, a formerly enslaved woman who lived in Marietta at the conclusion of the Civil War, for her vision, generosity and initiative that resulted in the first monument dedicated to the memory of President Abraham Lincoln.
Charlotte was born enslaved on the Scott Plantation near Lynchburg, Virginia. It is believed that her birthdate was between 1803 and 1805. At birth she was the property of Thomas Scott. At the outset of the Civil War, Charlotte resided with Thomas Scott’s daughter, Margaret Scott Rucker, and her husband, Dr. William Parks Rucker, in Covington, Virginia. Although a slave-owner, Dr. Rucker was an outspoken supporter of the Union and President Lincoln, and openly collaborated with Federal army officers and scouts. In 1862, Dr. Rucker was arrested by Confederate authorities, accused of treason, and held in prison to await trial. While Rucker was imprisoned, President Lincoln directed the Union army to escort Margaret and the Rucker family to Marietta, Ohio for their safety. Charlotte accompanied the family as a freedman, or former slave, and lived with them as a domestic servant. After fifteen months in Confederate prisons, Dr. Rucker made a dramatic escape, and joined his family in Marietta. As a freedman, Charlotte was compensated for her services and had accumulated modest savings when the war ended. When she learned of Lincoln’s assassination, Charlotte “was in great distress” and declared, “The colored peoples have lost their best friend on earth! Mr. Lincoln was our best friend and I will give five dollars of my wages towards erecting a monument to his memory”. Dr. Rucker made strategic contacts that put Charlotte’s vision and donation into the hands of worthy fundraisers, including James Yeatman, President of the Western Sanitary Commission.
News of this initiative spread rapidly across the nation and by December 1865, more than $ 16,000 was raised – entirely from freedman, including many who were former U.S. Colored Troops and veterans of the Civil War. President Grant unveiled the Emancipation Memorial in Washington D.C.’s Lincoln Park on April 14, 1876, the anniversary of the assassination, and Frederick Douglass was the keynote speaker at the dedication ceremony. More than 25,000 people attended – including Charlotte Scott. Abraham Lincoln and Charlotte Scott are the only names commemorated on the monument. After the war, Charlotte lived as a free woman on the Scott Plantation until her death on January 24, 1891.
This ceremony will begin at 1:00 p.m., Saturday, June 17, 2023, at the First Congregational Church, 318 Front Street, Marietta, Ohio. The event will feature music performed at the 1876 Emancipation Memorial dedication ceremony; Marcia E. Cole, a re-enactor from Washington, D.C., will portray Charlotte Scott; and, Alicestyne Turley, Ph.D., an educator from Georgetown, Kentucky, will present, “African-Americans in the Civil War”. Light refreshments will be served. See more information at www.cwrtmov.org.