Friday, May 17, 2013
"In this temple, as in the hearts of the people for whom he saved the Union, the memory of Abraham Lincoln is enshrined forever."
Beneath these words, the 16th President of the United States—the Great Emancipator and preserver of the nation during the Civil War—sits immortalized in marble. Since its dedication on Memorial Day, 1922, the Lincoln Memorial has become the site of some of the nation’s most important social demonstrations, perhaps most notably Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
In 1867, two years after Lincoln's assassination, Congress formed the Lincoln Monument Association. In 1901, they selected the monument’s site, due west of the Washington Monument. In 1911, President Taft signed the Lincoln Memorial Bill which provided the $2 million required. Henry Bacon was chosen as the architect and in 1914, construction began. Bacon’s design was based on a Greek temple, symbolizing Lincoln’s god-like status in the hearts and minds of Americans. The statue of Lincoln itself was designed by Daniel Chester French; originally intended to be slightly larger than life at 10 feet tall, the design was altered and the statue now stands at an imposing 19 feet tall.
Lincoln is surrounded by 36 Doric columns, one for each state at the time of his death. By the time construction was finished, 12 more states had joined the Union, so the names of all 48 states are carved around the top of the 99 foot tall structure. A plaque for Alaska and Hawaii was added later. The Southern and Northern interior walls of the memorial are inscribed with the full text of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and 2nd Inaugural Address, respectively. Construction was completed in May, 1922 and the Lincoln Memorial was dedicated on Memorial Day, May 30, 1922.
Check out the National Park Service’s Interactive Lincoln Memorial site. Take a tour, listen to Ranger Reflections, and download podcasts!
Learn more about the Lincoln Memorial on Wikipedia.
You Can Help
The National Mall is in a state of disrepair.
Visit the Lincoln Memorial:
Did you know??
Lincoln’s statue is sitting on the American flag. A point of controversy for some, others see it as Lincoln eternally protecting the nation he saved.