The Lincoln Memorial, proudly seated at the west end of Washington, D.C.’s National Mall, is one of America’s most loved monuments. It draws millions of people each year. Here are some facts about the Lincoln Memorial’s construction and legacy.
Facts About Lincoln Memorial
1. It took more than 50 years to get a memorial for Lincoln built and opened to the public.
After the assassination of Abraham Lincoln in 1865, efforts to make a fitting tribute began. Two years later, Congress created the Lincoln Monument Association. It began to look for craftsmen to help bring the project to fruition.
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2. The 19th Century Design was more elaborate than the final product.
Clark Mills, a sculptor, was hired to create the design during the initial stages of Congress’s plan for Lincoln’s honor. Mills was enlisted after creating a cast for Lincoln’s head and face in 1865 and an iconic statue of Andrew Jackson riding horseback in 1853. However, Congress wasn’t ready for Mills’s vision for the tribute. It included a 12-foot Lincoln-likeness and six bronze figures on horseback, and a collection of 36 bronze figures.
3. WEST POTOMAC PARK IS DISAPPROVED BY A HIGHER OFFICER DUE TO ITS SWAMPY AND CRIMINAL REPUTATION.
When the Lincoln Memorial project was revived in the early 20th century, there were still opponents of its construction–mainly Speaker of the House Joe Cannon. Cannon, a staunch conservative and “Uncle Joe,” had many problems with the Lincoln Memorial project. He was against big government spending, and he disliked the proposed design. But his main complaint was about the location of the monument. Cannon felt that they were not worthy of Lincoln. “So long as my life,” he told Secretary of War Elihu Root, “I’ll never allow a monument to Abraham Lincoln to be erected within that gd Swamp.” This was about the marshy terrain and propensity to produce discarded bodies.
4. The TRAIN STATION HAD BEEN PROPOSED AS AN ALTERNATE LOCATION TO THE MEMORIAL.
Cannon’s allies suggested Washington, D.C.’s Union Station, a major American transportation hub, as a better venue than the Potomac River paying tribute to Abraham Lincoln. President Theodore Roosevelt gave the original approval of the project. However, the American Institute of Architects took criticism for wanting to keep the plans for developing the Potomac site.
5. LINCOLN’S ARMS LOOK LIKE A ROMAN SYMBOL.
Many artisans and designers collaborated to bring the Lincoln Memorial to life. Daniel Chester French designed the statue of America’s 16th President. It was made by the Piccirilli Brothers, a family of Tuscan marble carvers. Henry Bacon, an architect, created the monument building. Roman influences were injected by the Italian Piccirilli, who modeled Lincoln’s arms on the Piccirilli Brothers’ pillars.
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GREEK INFLUENCES ARE ALSO IN THE MEMORIAL.
Bacon, meanwhile, approached the exterior building construction using design cues taken from the classic Greek Doric Temple. Bacon believed that a monument to the man who defended democracy should look like a structure from the birthplace strong>
6. BACON’S CHIEF COMPETITOR HAD A FEW OUTRAGEOUS IDEAS FOR THE MONUMENT.
John Russell Pope, an architect, presented alternatives to Bacon’s plans for the structure when some elected officials disagreed with them.
7. THE MEMORIAL WAS A SECOND LINCOLN SCULPTURE DRAFTED BY THE FRENCH.
Two years ago, the French presented a bronze sculpture of Lincoln to Lincoln’s Abraham Lincoln Memorial Association, Neb. The sculpture depicts President Lincoln standing upright, his hands at his waist and his head tilted down. Bacon designed the base upon which the sculpture rests, as was the case for the later Memorial. The Nebraska State Capitol still has the statue.
8. LINCOLN HALF-DOUBLED IN SIZE AS THE PLANT PROGRESSED.
French’s original blueprints had a 10-foot Lincoln in them. French’s initial blueprints included a 10-foot Lincoln.
9. A LOT, MORE THAN 40 PERCENT OF MONUMENTS, ARE UNDERGROUND.
The Lincoln Memorial is 99 feet tall and 202 feet wide. However, viewers only see a small portion of it. The piece’s foundation is buried beneath the ground. It extends 66ft into the earth at its deepest point to support the weight and size of the marble structure.
10. LINCOLN’S SON LIVED TO SEE THE UNVEILING OF THE MONUMENT.
The Memorial was completed in eight years. The Lincoln Memorial was officially dedicated in May 1922 by a 78-year-old Robert Todd Lincoln. He was the only survivor of the former President and had been there during construction.
11. FRENCH MIGHT HAVE CONCEIVED THE STATUE WITH A NOD TO AMERICAN SIGN LANGUAGE.
American Sign Language -literate observers have noted the position of Lincoln’s fingers and recognized in their arrangement the significations of the letters A and L. Gerald J. Prokopowicz, historian, believes that the design was intentional despite the lack of evidence to suggest that the French intended for the statue to sign. Prokopowicz supports his claim with the following facts: a French-made sculpture of Gallaudet’s education, where he was teaching a student letter A; and the fact French modified his original models Lincoln’s right arm from an open hand to a clenched one.
Lincoln was also very invested in the advancement of sign language research. He signed the charter for Gallaudet Univ, the school of the deaf, which he created.
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12. A CONCERT ABOUT AD HOC WAS HELD ON THE MEMORIAL STEPS IN RESPONSE TO RACIAL PREJUDICE.
Marian Anderson, an African American singer, was banned from performing at the Daughters of the American Revolution’s Washington, D.C. Constitution Hall in 1939. The discrimination was discovered by Eleanor Roosevelt, First Lady, and Secretary of Interior Harold LeClair Ickes. Anderson will be performing at the Lincoln Memorial on Easter Sunday. Anderson performed in front of a crowd exceeding 70,000.
13. RICHARD Nixon VISITED MONUMENT AT 4:00 AM, ONE NIGHT TO DEBATE MERITS OF VIETNAM WAR.
Sites like the Lincoln Memorial were used to organize pacifist protests as American youth became more vocal against the Vietnam War. The monument hosted a candlelight ceremony in May 1970, days after the Kent State shootings. A surprising visitor was President Richard Nixon, who stopped by the Memorial at 4 AM to “talk some sense” to the crowd of about 30 students protesting. Nixon later recalled, “I walked over and shook hands with a group of them. They were friendly. They were quite friendly.
14. THE MEMORIAL WALLS INCLUDE A TYPO.
On the north wall of the monument building is an inscription that contains Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural speech. This speech was originally given in March 1865, at the end of the Civil War. Lincoln’s famous chant, “With high hopes for the future. No prediction regarding them is ventured”, concludes the first paragraph. However, there is a small error in the spelling of “FUTURE”: It is misspelled as “FUTURE.” This mistake is still visible, despite numerous attempts to rectify it.