Cover image for Philip Reid saves the statue of freedom
Philip Reid saves the statue of freedom
Lapham, Steven Sellers, author.
Publication Information:
Ann Arbor, MI : Sleeping Bear Press, 2014.
Physical Description:
36 unnumbered pages : color illustrations ; 29 cm
Philip Reid was an enslaved African American who volunteered to work with the delicate plaster mold needed to create Freedom, the statue that stands atop the capital building in Washington, D.C.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 4.5 0.5 164231.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E340.R45 L37 2014 Juvenile Non-Fiction Childrens Area-Black History
E340.R45 L37 2014 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



On December 2, 1863, a bronze statue was placed atop the dome of the United States Capitol Building. Standing more than 19 feet tall, the figure called "Freedom" was designed and created during a period of great turmoil in American history. But at one point during its creation, it wasn't clear the statue would even get to its final destination. One man, in particular, played an important role in seeing the statue through to completion. His name was Philip Reid and he was a slave. Born into slavery, Philip Reid grew up on a South Carolina farm, helping various craftsmen such as the blacksmith and the potter. Eventually, he was sold to a man named Clark Mills, who was opening a foundry in Washington, D.C. Mr. Mills's foundry is contracted to cast the Freedom statue but the project is jeopardized when a seemingly unsolvable puzzle arises. And it is Philip Reid, an American-born slave, who steps in.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

On December 2, 1863, a bronze statue called Freedom was placed atop the dome of the recently completed U.S. Capitol Building. But how was it constructed? To answer this question, we must first begin on a Charleston, South Carolina, farm, where a 10-year-old slave named Philip Reid works with a blacksmith and a potter, pumping bellows and stoking the kiln. When a craftsman named Clark Mills arrives to create a plaster molding on the walls and ceilings of Reid's master's home, Reid helps by holding the ladder steady; at the end of the project, Mills buys Philip for $1,500 and makes him his assistant in his Washington, D.C., foundry casting objects in bronze. The government then hires Mills to cast the Freedom statue, but when they arrive at the Capitol to obtain the plaster model, there's a problem: nobody can detect the plaster's seams and, therefore, can't dismantle the gigantic statue to move it. But Reid finds a way. This book about a little-known historical figure and event includes fascinating endpapers, which are Reid's purchase papers, and an epilogue featuring Reid's pay stub from the foundry ($1.25 per day). Christie's rich acrylic gouache illustrations evocatively convey Reid's life as a slave and his work in the foundry. An important piece of history for kids to know.--Kelley, Ann Copyright 2014 Booklist

School Library Journal Review

Gr 3-5-The Statue of Freedom, which sits high atop the dome of the U.S. Capitol, would not be the symbol it is today without the ingenuity of an enslaved African American laborer. Philip Reid was owned by the renowned sculptor Clark Mills and by 1859 was an experienced foundry worker. When Mills was commissioned to cast Freedom in bronze, the two men retrieved the plaster model, only to be met with a conundrum. A room full of craftsmen and engineers were puzzled as to how to dismantle the plaster model for transport without cracking it, thereby making it useless and impossible to cast. Mills offered the expertise of Reid, who, through the use of a tackle and pulley, solved the problem that left so many others perplexed. He not only earned their respect but made a lasting contribution to the heritage of our nation. Commendable in its acknowledgment of the enslaved work force to which we owe much of the nation's capital, the book nonetheless leaves readers with as many questions as answers. Primary sources are reproduced in the back matter, but they offer little insight into actual events. While directly stating that much remains unknown about Reid's childhood, the authors still fabricate parts of the story, providing speculative assumptions on the thoughts and feelings of the individuals involved with no supportive evidence. Yet the story remains a testament to how one man's experience and expertise in his trade can overcome social prejudice and injustice while earning the respect of peers. Christie's striking, evocative illustrations enhance the text. For collections needing materials on themes presented herein, this is a suitable purchase, albeit secondary.-Rebecca Gueorguiev, New York Public Library (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.