Academic journal article Social Education

Casting Freedom, 1860-1862

Academic journal article Social Education

Casting Freedom, 1860-1862

Article excerpt

Thomas Crawford, an American Sculptor, created the full-size figure of Freedom in clay. Molds were made, from which a full-size positive plaster model was cast in five main sections. This model is on view today in the basement rotunda of the Russell Senate Office Building.

Philip Reid, an enslaved black man, solved the puzzle of how to take the 19-foot 6-inch plaster model apart so that it could be transported to the foundry. An Italian immigrant craftsman had assembled the model, and he refused to reveal the secret of how it came apart unless he received more pay.

Clark Mills, who owned Philip Reid, was a self-taught American sculptor with experience in casting large bronze sculptures. Mills was hired to cast the Statue of Freedom at his foundry a few miles from the Capitol. The government agreed to rent his foundry and to purchase all necessary materials, including 15,000 pounds of copper, 1,500 pounds of tin, and 200 pounds of zinc. Lead was also added to the molten amalgam, which is called bronze.

Like all large bronze statues, Freedom is a hollow form, which minimizes weight and cost. …

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