After Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, many people felt a memorial should be made in his honor. Getting it built took more than 50 years.
- The first memorial was built in 1868, three years after Lincoln’s death.
- Later, Clark Mills proposed a design for a larger memorial but it was so extravagant that raising enough money to build it wasn’t possible. Progress on a memorial floundered until finally in 1910, Congress approved a design and President William H. Taft oversaw the project.
- The Lincoln Memorial is designed after a Greek Temple. It features a 19 foot statue of Abraham Lincoln sitting in a chair. Inscribed on the monument are the words from two of Lincoln’s most well-known speeches, the Gettysburg Address and his second inaugural address.
- The memorial was constructed from 175 tons of Georgia white marble.
- The 36 states that were part of the Union at Lincoln’s death are named on the memorial.
- Since the 1930s, the Lincoln Memorial has been symbolic of race relations.
- In 1939, African American singer Marian Anderson was barred from performing at a Daughters of the American Revolution meeting. In response, first lady Eleanor Roosevelt invited her to sing at the Lincoln Memorial the following Easter Sunday.
- It was the location for Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous speech, “I Have a Dream,” on August 28, 1963.
- The Lincoln Memorial is managed by the National Park Service and is open 24 hours a day. 300,000 people visit it annually.
- The monument clearly represents President Lincoln’s values of freedom, liberty, charity, and unity.
- The total cost for the project was $300,000 and the memorial was dedicated on May 30, 1922. Abraham Lincoln’s only living child, 78-year-old Robert Todd Lincoln attended.
- Extravagant: big, luxurious
- Barred: not allowed
Questions and Answers
Question: Who designed and built the memorial?
Answer: Henry Bacon designed the building’s neoclassical exterior, which many people thought did not represent Lincoln’s humble nature. Some people thought a log cabin would be more fitting. Daniel Chester French designed the sculpture and the Piccalilli brothers carved it. Jules Guerin painted the murals on the walls of the building.
Visit the Smithsonian to see a video of the Lincoln Memorial.
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