Today (28 July 2021) marks the 101st anniversary of the unveiling of the Abraham Lincoln statue in Parliament Square, London. copy of the statue in Lincoln Park, Chicago, it replaced another not considered ‘statesmanlike’ enough for the site which can now be found in Manchester. It was originally intended for erection in 1914 but this was delayed because of the First World War. The statue was ceremonially presented by the American people and accepted by the then Prime Minister David Lloyd George at an event in Central Hall on 28 July 1920. It was unveiled by the Duke of Connaught.
The image shows a group of British veterans of the American Civil War at the unveiling ceremony. Prominent amongst them and bearing the American flag is Samuel Proops, a Jewish butcher from Spitalfields London. Born in London in 1845 Samuel was one of many Englishmen who served in the Civil War. It is not clear what motivated Samuel to travel to America or to enlist. Possibly he saw opportunities in the expanding cattle trade out West, possibly he had family in America who encouraged him to come. He arrived in New York in November 1863, but did not join up immediately to fight. Samuel’s descendants still have the certificate from the Adjutant General’s Office testifying to his service. Sadly the certificate has faded and some of the wording is illegible, but from it we know that he was enrolled in Cincinatti as a private in Company E of the 187th Ohio Regiment, on the 10th day of February 1865 and was mustered in to the United States service as such for the period of one year on the next day. He was mustered out in Macon, Georgia, on 20 January 1866. By 1871 he was back in London, where he died in 1921. He is buried in the East Ham Jewish Cemetery.
Other veterans identified in the picture include Arthur Frazier Smith (holding the wreath) of the 80th New York and secretary of the London Veterans, and William Blazey (on the left in US uniform with flag and cartridge box) of the 1st Connecticut Heavy Artillery.
Our thanks to David Jacobs of the Jewish Historical Society of England and to Samuel Proops’ great grandson and other family members for bringing this story to our attention.
The American Civil War Round Table UK would love to hear from other descendants of British participants in the war, or to give advice on tracing ancestors who fought.
Lincoln Statues in the UK - Manchester and London