Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

Overview
The Lincoln Memorial is an American memorial built to honor the 16th President of the United States
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

, Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

. It is located on the National Mall
National Mall
The National Mall is an open-area national park in downtown Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States. The National Mall is a unit of the National Park Service , and is administered by the National Mall and Memorial Parks unit...

 in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

 The architect was Henry Bacon
Henry Bacon
Henry Bacon was an American Beaux-Arts architect who is best remembered for the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. , which was his final project.- Education and early career :...

, the sculptor of the main statue (Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln (1920 statue)
Abraham Lincoln is a colossal seated figure of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln sculpted by Daniel Chester French and carved by the Piccirilli Brothers. It is situated in the Lincoln Memorial , on the National Mall, Washington, D.C., USA, and was unveiled in 1922...

, 1920) was Daniel Chester French
Daniel Chester French
Daniel Chester French was an American sculptor. His best-known work is the sculpture of a seated Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.-Life and career:...

, and the painter of the interior murals was Jules Guerin
Jules Guerin
Jules Guérin , American muralist, architectural delineator and illustrator.-Biography:Jules Vallée Guérin was born in St Louis, Missouri on November 18, 1866 and moved to Chicago to study art in 1880. In 1889 he is known to have shared a studio with Winsor McCay, the noted cartoonist...

. It is one of several monuments built to honor an American president.

The building is in the form of a Greek Doric
Doric order
The Doric order was one of the three orders or organizational systems of ancient Greek or classical architecture; the other two canonical orders were the Ionic and the Corinthian.-History:...

 temple and contains a large seated sculpture of Abraham Lincoln and inscriptions of two well-known speeches by Lincoln, The Gettysburg Address and his Second Inaugural Address.
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Encyclopedia
The Lincoln Memorial is an American memorial built to honor the 16th President of the United States
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

, Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

. It is located on the National Mall
National Mall
The National Mall is an open-area national park in downtown Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States. The National Mall is a unit of the National Park Service , and is administered by the National Mall and Memorial Parks unit...

 in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

 The architect was Henry Bacon
Henry Bacon
Henry Bacon was an American Beaux-Arts architect who is best remembered for the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. , which was his final project.- Education and early career :...

, the sculptor of the main statue (Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln (1920 statue)
Abraham Lincoln is a colossal seated figure of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln sculpted by Daniel Chester French and carved by the Piccirilli Brothers. It is situated in the Lincoln Memorial , on the National Mall, Washington, D.C., USA, and was unveiled in 1922...

, 1920) was Daniel Chester French
Daniel Chester French
Daniel Chester French was an American sculptor. His best-known work is the sculpture of a seated Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.-Life and career:...

, and the painter of the interior murals was Jules Guerin
Jules Guerin
Jules Guérin , American muralist, architectural delineator and illustrator.-Biography:Jules Vallée Guérin was born in St Louis, Missouri on November 18, 1866 and moved to Chicago to study art in 1880. In 1889 he is known to have shared a studio with Winsor McCay, the noted cartoonist...

. It is one of several monuments built to honor an American president.

The building is in the form of a Greek Doric
Doric order
The Doric order was one of the three orders or organizational systems of ancient Greek or classical architecture; the other two canonical orders were the Ionic and the Corinthian.-History:...

 temple and contains a large seated sculpture of Abraham Lincoln and inscriptions of two well-known speeches by Lincoln, The Gettysburg Address and his Second Inaugural Address. The memorial has been the site of many famous speeches, including Martin Luther King
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was an American clergyman, activist, and prominent leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. He is best known for being an iconic figure in the advancement of civil rights in the United States and around the world, using nonviolent methods following the...

's "I Have a Dream
I Have a Dream
"I Have a Dream" is a 17-minute public speech by Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered on August 28, 1963, in which he called for racial equality and an end to discrimination...

" speech, delivered on August 28, 1963 during the rally at the end of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom
March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom
The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom was the largest political rally for human rights in United States history and called for civil and economic rights for African Americans. It took place in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, August 28, 1963. Martin Luther King, Jr...

.

Like other monuments on the National Mall – including the nearby Vietnam Veterans Memorial
Vietnam Veterans Memorial
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is a national memorial in Washington, D.C. It honors U.S. service members of the U.S. armed forces who fought in the Vietnam War, service members who died in service in Vietnam/South East Asia, and those service members who were unaccounted for during the War.Its...

, Korean War Veterans Memorial
Korean War Veterans Memorial
The Korean War Veterans Memorial is located in Washington, D.C.'s West Potomac Park, southeast of the Lincoln Memorial and just south of the Reflecting Pool on the National Mall...

, and National World War II Memorial
National World War II Memorial
The U.S. National World War II Memorial is a National Memorial dedicated to Americans who served in the armed forces and as civilians during World War II...

 – the memorial is administered by the National Park Service
National Park Service
The National Park Service is the U.S. federal agency that manages all national parks, many national monuments, and other conservation and historical properties with various title designations...

 under its National Mall and Memorial Parks
National Mall and Memorial Parks
National Mall and Memorial Parks is an administrative unit of the National Park Service encompassing many national memorials and other areas in Washington, D.C...

 group. It has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places
National Register of Historic Places
The National Register of Historic Places is the United States government's official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects deemed worthy of preservation...

 since October 15, 1966. It is open to the public 24 hours a day. In 2007, it was ranked seventh on the List of America's Favorite Architecture by the American Institute of Architects
American Institute of Architects
The American Institute of Architects is a professional organization for architects in the United States. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the AIA offers education, government advocacy, community redevelopment, and public outreach to support the architecture profession and improve its public image...

.

History



The Lincoln Memorial, designed after the temples
Greek temple
Greek temples were structures built to house deity statues within Greek sanctuaries in Greek paganism. The temples themselves did usually not directly serve a cult purpose, since the sacrifices and rituals dedicated to the respective deity took place outside them...

 of ancient Greece
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

, is significant as America's foremost memorial to their 16th president, as a totally original example of neoclassical architecture
Neoclassical architecture
Neoclassical architecture was an architectural style produced by the neoclassical movement that began in the mid-18th century, manifested both in its details as a reaction against the Rococo style of naturalistic ornament, and in its architectural formulas as an outgrowth of some classicizing...

, and as the formal terminus to the extended National Mall
National Mall
The National Mall is an open-area national park in downtown Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States. The National Mall is a unit of the National Park Service , and is administered by the National Mall and Memorial Parks unit...

 in accordance with the McMillan Plan
McMillan Plan
The McMillan Plan was an architectural plan for the development of Washington, D.C., formulated in 1902 by the Senate Park Improvement Commission of the District of Columbia which had been formed by Congress the previous year.-United States Park Commission:...

 for the monumental core of Washington.

The first public memorial to Abraham Lincoln in Washington D.C. was a statue by Lot Flannery erected in front of the District of Columbia City Hall
District of Columbia City Hall
District of Columbia City Hall, also known as Old City Hall and the District of Columbia Courthouse, is a historic building at Judiciary Square in downtown Washington, D.C. Originally built for the offices of the D.C...

 in 1868, three years after his assassination. However, demands for a fitting national memorial had been voiced since the time of Lincoln's death. In 1867, Congress heeded these demands and passed the first of many bills incorporating a commission to erect a monument for the sixteenth president. An American, Clark Mills
Clark Mills (sculptor)
Clark Mills was an American sculptor, best known for three versions of an equestrian statue of Andrew Jackson, located in Washington, D.C., Nashville, Tennessee, and New Orleans, Louisiana.-Life:...

, was chosen to design the monument. His plans reflected the bombastic nationalistic spirit of the age. His design called for a 70 feet (21.3 m) structure adorned with six equestrian and 31 pedestrian statues of colossal proportions, crowned by a 12 feet (3.7 m) statue of Abraham Lincoln. However, subscriptions for the project were insufficient and its future fell into doubt.

The matter lay dormant until the turn of the century, when, under the leadership of Senator
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 Shelby M. Cullom of Illinois
Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

, six separate bills were introduced to Congress for the incorporation of a new memorial commission. The first five bills, proposed in the years 1901, 1902, and 1908, met with defeat because of opposition from Speaker Joe Cannon
Joseph Gurney Cannon
Joseph Gurney Cannon was a United States politician from Illinois and leader of the Republican Party. Cannon served as Speaker of the United States House of Representatives from 1903 to 1911, and historians generally consider him to be the most dominant Speaker in United States history, with such...

. The sixth bill (Senate Bill 9449), introduced on December 13, 1910, passed. The Lincoln Memorial Commission had its first meeting the following year and President
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 William H. Taft was chosen as president. Progress continued at a steady pace and by 1913 Congress had approved of the Commission's choice of design and location. However, this approval was far from unanimous. Many thought that architect Henry Bacon's Greek temple design was far too ostentatious for a man of Lincoln's humble character. Instead they proposed a simple log cabin shrine. The site too did not go unopposed. The recently reclaimed land in West Potomac Park
West Potomac Park
West Potomac Park is a U.S. national park in Washington, D.C., adjacent to the National Mall. It includes the parkland that extends south of the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, from the Lincoln Memorial to the grounds of the Washington Monument...

 was seen by many to be either too swampy or too inaccessible. Other sites, such as Union Station
Union Station (Washington, D.C.)
Washington Union Station is a train station and leisure destination visited by 32 million people each year in the center of Washington, D.C. The train station is served by Amtrak, MARC and Virginia Railway Express commuter rail services as well as by Washington Metro subway trains and local buses...

, were put forth. The Commission stood firm in its recommendation though, feeling that the Potomac Park location, situated on the Washington Monument
Washington Monument
The Washington Monument is an obelisk near the west end of the National Mall in Washington, D.C., built to commemorate the first U.S. president, General George Washington...

-Capitol
United States Capitol
The United States Capitol is the meeting place of the United States Congress, the legislature of the federal government of the United States. Located in Washington, D.C., it sits atop Capitol Hill at the eastern end of the National Mall...

 axis, overlooking the Potomac River
Potomac River
The Potomac River flows into the Chesapeake Bay, located along the mid-Atlantic coast of the United States. The river is approximately long, with a drainage area of about 14,700 square miles...

 and surrounded by open land, was an ideal site. Furthermore, the Potomac Park site had already been designated in the McMillan Plan of 1901 to be the location of a future monument comparable to that of the Washington Monument.
With Congressional approval and a $300,000 allocation, the project got underway. On February 12, 1914, an inauspicious dedication ceremony was conducted and following month the actual construction began. Work progressed steadily according to schedule. However a few changes did have to be made. The statue of Lincoln, originally designed to be 10 feet (3 m) tall, was later enlarged to 19 feet (5.8 m) to prevent it from being dwarfed by its huge chamber. As late as 1920, the decision was made to substitute an open portal for the bronze and glass grille which was to have guarded the entrance. Despite these changes, the Memorial was finished on schedule. In a May 30 celebration in 1922, Commission president William H. Taft dedicated the Memorial and presented it to President Warren G. Harding
Warren G. Harding
Warren Gamaliel Harding was the 29th President of the United States . A Republican from Ohio, Harding was an influential self-made newspaper publisher. He served in the Ohio Senate , as the 28th Lieutenant Governor of Ohio and as a U.S. Senator...

, who accepted it for the American people. Lincoln's only remaining son, 79 year old Robert Todd Lincoln
Robert Todd Lincoln
Robert Todd Lincoln was an American lawyer and Secretary of War, and the first son of President Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln...

, was in attendance.

The Memorial was listed on the National Register of Historic Places
National Register of Historic Places
The National Register of Historic Places is the United States government's official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects deemed worthy of preservation...

 on October 15, 1966.

Exterior


The exterior of the Memorial echoes a classic Greek temple
Greek temple
Greek temples were structures built to house deity statues within Greek sanctuaries in Greek paganism. The temples themselves did usually not directly serve a cult purpose, since the sacrifices and rituals dedicated to the respective deity took place outside them...

 and features Yule marble
Yule Marble
Yule Marble is a type of metamorphed limestone found only in the Yule Creek Valley, in the West Elk Mountains of Colorado, just south of the town of Marble, Colorado . Quarried today at 9,300 feet above sea level, Yule Marble is famous for its uniform pure white consistency, lacking, for the most...

. The structure measures 189.7 by and is 99 feet (30.2 m) tall. It is surrounded by a peristyle
Peristyle
In Hellenistic Greek and Roman architecture a peristyle is a columned porch or open colonnade in a building surrounding a court that may contain an internal garden. Tetrastoon is another name for this feature...

 of 36 fluted
Classical order
A classical order is one of the ancient styles of classical architecture, each distinguished by its proportions and characteristic profiles and details, and most readily recognizable by the type of column employed. Three ancient orders of architecture—the Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian—originated in...

 Doric columns, one for each of the 36 states in the Union at the time of Lincoln's death, and two columns in-antis at the entrance behind the colonnade
Colonnade
In classical architecture, a colonnade denotes a long sequence of columns joined by their entablature, often free-standing, or part of a building....

. The columns stand 44 feet (13.4 m) tall with a base diameter of 7.5 feet (2.3 m). Each column is built from 12 drums including the capital
Capital (architecture)
In architecture the capital forms the topmost member of a column . It mediates between the column and the load thrusting down upon it, broadening the area of the column's supporting surface...

. The columns, like the exterior walls and façades, are inclined slightly toward the building's interior. This is to compensate for perspective distortions which would otherwise make the Memorial appear asymmetrical.

Above the colonnade, inscribed on the frieze
Frieze
thumb|267px|Frieze of the [[Tower of the Winds]], AthensIn architecture the frieze is the wide central section part of an entablature and may be plain in the Ionic or Doric order, or decorated with bas-reliefs. Even when neither columns nor pilasters are expressed, on an astylar wall it lies upon...

, are the names of the 36 states and the dates in which they entered the Union. Their names are separated by double wreath medallions in bas-relief. The cornice
Cornice
Cornice molding is generally any horizontal decorative molding that crowns any building or furniture element: the cornice over a door or window, for instance, or the cornice around the edge of a pedestal. A simple cornice may be formed just with a crown molding.The function of the projecting...

 is composed of a carved scroll regularly interspersed with projecting lions' heads and ornamented with palmetto cresting along the upper edge. Above this on the attic frieze are inscribed the names of the 48 states present at the time of the Memorial's dedication. A bit higher is a garland
Garland
A garland is a class of decoration, of which there are many types.Garland may also refer to:-Places:*Garland, Arkansas, a town in Miller County*Garland County, Arkansas*Garland, Maine, a town in Penobscot County...

 joined by ribbons and palm leaves, supported by the wings of eagles. All ornamentation on the friezes and cornices was done by Ernest C. Bairstow.

The Memorial is anchored in a concrete foundation, 44 to 66 ft (13.4 to 20.1 m) in depth, constructed by M. F. Comer and Company and the National Foundation and Engineering Company, and is encompassed by a 187 by rectangular granite retaining wall
Retaining wall
Retaining walls are built in order to hold back earth which would otherwise move downwards. Their purpose is to stabilize slopes and provide useful areas at different elevations, e.g...

 measuring 14 feet (4.3 m) in height.

Leading up to the shrine on the east side are the main steps. Beginning at the edge of the Reflecting Pool, the steps rise to the Lincoln Memorial Circle roadway surrounding the edifice, then to the main portal, intermittently spaced with a series of platforms. Flanking the steps as they approach the entrance are two buttresses each crowned with an 11 feet (3.4 m) tall tripod carved from pink Tennessee marble
Tennessee marble
Tennessee marble is a type of crystalline limestone found primarily in East Tennessee, in the southeastern United States. Long esteemed by architects and builders for its pinkish-gray color and the ease with which it is polished, this stone has been used in the construction of numerous notable...

 by the Piccirilli Brothers.

Interior




The interior of the Memorial is divided into three chambers by two rows of Ionic columns. These columns, four in each row, are 50 feet (15.2 m) tall and 5.5 feet (1.7 m) in diameter at their base. The north and south side chambers contain carved inscriptions of Lincoln's second inaugural address
Lincoln's second inaugural address
Abraham Lincoln delivered his second inaugural address on March 4, 1865, during his second inauguration as President of the United States. At a time when victory over the secessionists in the American Civil War was within days and slavery was near an end, Lincoln did not speak of happiness, but of...

 and his Gettysburg Address
Gettysburg Address
The Gettysburg Address is a speech by U.S. President Abraham Lincoln and is one of the most well-known speeches in United States history. It was delivered by Lincoln during the American Civil War, on the afternoon of Thursday, November 19, 1863, at the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery...

. There was an error in the engraving of the second inaugural address. In the line, "With high hope for the future," the "F" of the word future was originally carved as an "E". To cover the mistake, the bottom line of the E is not painted in. Bordering these inscriptions are pilaster
Pilaster
A pilaster is a slightly-projecting column built into or applied to the face of a wall. Most commonly flattened or rectangular in form, pilasters can also take a half-round form or the shape of any type of column, including tortile....

s ornamented with fasces, eagles, and wreaths. The inscriptions and adjoining ornamentation were done by Evelyn Beatrice Longman
Evelyn Beatrice Longman
Evelyn Beatrice Longman was the first woman sculptor to be elected a full member of the National Academy of Design in 1919. Her allegorical figure works were commissioned as monuments and memorials, adornment for public buildings, and attractions at art expositions in early 20th-century America.-...

.

The Memorial is filled with symbolism: the 36 columns represent the states in the union at the time of Lincoln's death, the 48 stone festoons on the attic above the columns represent the 48 states in 1922. Above each of the inscriptions is a 60 by mural painted by Jules Guerin
Jules Guerin
Jules Guérin , American muralist, architectural delineator and illustrator.-Biography:Jules Vallée Guérin was born in St Louis, Missouri on November 18, 1866 and moved to Chicago to study art in 1880. In 1889 he is known to have shared a studio with Winsor McCay, the noted cartoonist...

 graphically portraying governing principles evident in Lincoln's life. On the south wall mural, Freedom, Liberty, Immortality, Justice, and the Law are pictured, while the north wall portrays Unity, Fraternity, and Charity. Both scenes contain a background of cypress trees, the emblem of Eternity. The murals were crafted with a special mixture of paint which included elements of kerosene and wax to protect the exposed artwork from fluctuations in temperature and moisture conditions.

The ceiling of the Memorial, 60 feet (18.3 m) above the floor, is composed of bronze girders, ornamented with laurel and oak leaves. Between the girders are panels of Alabama marble
Sylacauga marble
Sylacauga marble is found in a belt running through Talladega County, Alabama. It is prized for its pure white color and its crystalline structure. The stone is named after the town of Sylacauga, Alabama, which is sometimes called "the Marble City". Sylacauga marble has been called the "world's...

, saturated with paraffin
Paraffin
In chemistry, paraffin is a term that can be used synonymously with "alkane", indicating hydrocarbons with the general formula CnH2n+2. Paraffin wax refers to a mixture of alkanes that falls within the 20 ≤ n ≤ 40 range; they are found in the solid state at room temperature and begin to enter the...

 to increase their translucency. Despite the increased light from this device, Bacon and French felt the statue required even more light. They decided upon an artificial lighting system in which a louvered lighting panel would be set in the ceiling with metal slats to conceal the great floodlights. Custodians could adjust the lights from a control room, varying them according to the outside light. Funds for this expensive system were appropriated by Congress in 1926, and in 1929, seven years after the dedication, the statue was properly lighted. Since that time, only one major alteration has taken place in the Memorial's design. This was the addition of an elevator within the structure to aid handicapped visitors, which was installed in the mid-1970s.

Statue




IN THIS TEMPLE

AS IN THE HEARTS OF THE PEOPLE

FOR WHOM HE SAVED THE UNION

THE MEMORY OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN

IS ENSHRINED FOREVER
Epitaph above Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln (1920 statue)
Abraham Lincoln is a colossal seated figure of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln sculpted by Daniel Chester French and carved by the Piccirilli Brothers. It is situated in the Lincoln Memorial , on the National Mall, Washington, D.C., USA, and was unveiled in 1922...


Lying between the north and south chambers is the central hall containing the solitary figure of Lincoln sitting in contemplation. The statue was carved by the Piccirilli Brothers
Piccirilli Brothers
The Piccirilli Brothers were a family of renowned marble carvers who carved a large number of the most significant marble sculptures in the United States, including Daniel Chester French’s colossal Abraham Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D.C.-History:In 1888, Giuseppe Piccirilli , a...

 under the supervision of the sculptor, Daniel Chester French
Daniel Chester French
Daniel Chester French was an American sculptor. His best-known work is the sculpture of a seated Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.-Life and career:...

, and took four years to complete. The statue, originally intended to be only 10 feet (3 m) tall, was, on further consideration, enlarged so that it finally stood 19 feet (5.8 m) tall from head to foot, the scale being such that if Lincoln were standing, he would be 28 feet (8.5 m) tall. The extreme width of the statue is the same as its height. The Georgia white marble sculpture weighs 175 short tons (158.8 MT) and had to be shipped in 28 separate pieces.

The statue rests upon an oblong pedestal of Tennessee marble 10 feet (3 m) high, 16 feet (4.9 m) wide, and 17 feet (5.2 m) deep. Directly beneath this lies a platform of Tennessee marble about 34.5 feet (10.5 m) long, 28 feet (8.5 m) wide, and 6.5 inch (0.1651 m) high. Lincoln's arms rest on representations of Roman fasces, a subtle touch that associates the statue with the Augustan (and imperial) theme (obelisk and funerary monuments) of the Washington Mall. The statue is discretely bordered by two pilasters, one on each side. Between these pilasters and above Lincoln's head stands the engraved epitaph, composed by Royal Cortissoz
Royal Cortissoz
Royal Cortissoz was an American art historian and long-time art critic for the New York Herald Tribune from 1891 until his death. During his tenure, he consistently championed traditionalism and decried modernism...

, shown in the box to the left.

Sculptural features


The sculpture exhibits at least two features that have caused debate. Some have claimed that the face of General Robert E. Lee
Robert E. Lee
Robert Edward Lee was a career military officer who is best known for having commanded the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia in the American Civil War....

 was carved onto the back of Lincoln's head, and looks back across the Potomac toward his former home, Arlington House
Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial
Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial, formerly named the Custis-Lee Mansion, is a Greek revival style mansion located in Arlington, Virginia, USA that was once the home of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. It overlooks the Potomac River, directly across from the National Mall in Washington,...

, now within the bounds of Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington County, Virginia, is a military cemetery in the United States of America, established during the American Civil War on the grounds of Arlington House, formerly the estate of the family of Confederate general Robert E. Lee's wife Mary Anna Lee, a great...

. Another popular legend is that Lincoln is shown using sign language
Sign language
A sign language is a language which, instead of acoustically conveyed sound patterns, uses visually transmitted sign patterns to convey meaning—simultaneously combining hand shapes, orientation and movement of the hands, arms or body, and facial expressions to fluidly express a speaker's...

 to represent his initials, with his left hand shaped to form an A
A
A is the first letter and a vowel in the basic modern Latin alphabet. It is similar to the Ancient Greek letter Alpha, from which it derives.- Origins :...

 and his right hand to form an L
L
Ł or ł, described in English as L with stroke, is a letter of the Polish, Kashubian, Sorbian, Łacinka , Łatynka , Wilamowicean, Navajo, Dene Suline, Inupiaq, Zuni, Hupa, and Dogrib alphabets, several proposed alphabets for the Venetian language, and the ISO 11940 romanization of the Thai alphabet...

, the president's initials. The National Park Service denies both stories, calling them urban legend
Urban legend
An urban legend, urban myth, urban tale, or contemporary legend, is a form of modern folklore consisting of stories that may or may not have been believed by their tellers to be true...

s.

However, historian Gerald Prokopowicz writes that, while it is not clear that sculptor Daniel Chester French intended Lincoln's hands to be formed into sign language versions of his initials, it is possible that French did intend it, because he was familiar with American Sign Language
American Sign Language
American Sign Language, or ASL, for a time also called Ameslan, is the dominant sign language of Deaf Americans, including deaf communities in the United States, in the English-speaking parts of Canada, and in some regions of Mexico...

, and he would have had a reason to do so, that is, to pay tribute to Lincoln for having signed the federal legislation giving Gallaudet University
Gallaudet University
Gallaudet University is a federally-chartered university for the education of the deaf and hard of hearing, located in the District of Columbia, U.S...

, a university for the deaf, the authority to grant college degrees. The National Geographic Society
National Geographic Society
The National Geographic Society , headquartered in Washington, D.C. in the United States, is one of the largest non-profit scientific and educational institutions in the world. Its interests include geography, archaeology and natural science, the promotion of environmental and historical...

's publication, "Pinpointing the Past in Washington, D.C." states that Daniel Chester French had a son who was deaf and that the sculptor was familiar with sign language. Historian James A. Percoco has observed that, although there are no extant documents showing that French had Lincoln's hands carved to represent the letters "A" and "L" in American Sign Language, "I think you can conclude that it's reasonable to have that kind of summation about the hands."

The case for Lincoln signing his initials gains more credence if we look into possible inspirations for French doing this. In their book The Sistine Secrets: Michaelangelo's Forbidden Messages in the Heart of the Vatican, Benjamin Blech and Roy Doliner discuss how for centuries artists included various secret images in their works in order to identify them as the creators; most were not permitted to sign their own paintings or sculptures. In Leonardo da Vinci’s painting Madonna of the Rocks, the authors describe how da Vinci made it known that this work was his:
So it appears that if one concentrates only on American Sign Language, then one can argue that Lincoln is not signing anything. But on closer inspection, and in comparison to da Vinci's painting, French inserted a much older finger formation.

Sacred space


As Sandage, (1993) demonstrates, the Memorial has become a symbolically sacred venue especially for the Civil Rights movement. In 1939, the Daughters of the American Revolution
Daughters of the American Revolution
The Daughters of the American Revolution is a lineage-based membership organization for women who are descended from a person involved in United States' independence....

 refused to allow the African-American contralto Marian Anderson
Marian Anderson
Marian Anderson was an African-American contralto and one of the most celebrated singers of the twentieth century...

 to perform before an integrated audience at the organization's Constitution Hall. At the suggestion of Eleanor Roosevelt
Eleanor Roosevelt
Anna Eleanor Roosevelt was the First Lady of the United States from 1933 to 1945. She supported the New Deal policies of her husband, distant cousin Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and became an advocate for civil rights. After her husband's death in 1945, Roosevelt continued to be an international...

, the wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

, Harold L. Ickes
Harold L. Ickes
Harold LeClair Ickes was a United States administrator and politician. He served as United States Secretary of the Interior for 13 years, from 1933 to 1946, the longest tenure of anyone to hold the office, and the second longest serving Cabinet member in U.S. history next to James Wilson. Ickes...

, the Secretary of the Interior, arranged for a performance on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on Easter Sunday of that year, to a live audience of 70,000, and a nationwide radio audience.

On August 28, 1963, the memorial grounds were the site of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom
March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom
The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom was the largest political rally for human rights in United States history and called for civil and economic rights for African Americans. It took place in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, August 28, 1963. Martin Luther King, Jr...

, which proved to be a high point of the American Civil Rights Movement. It is estimated that approximately 250,000 people came to the event, where they heard Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was an American clergyman, activist, and prominent leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. He is best known for being an iconic figure in the advancement of civil rights in the United States and around the world, using nonviolent methods following the...

, deliver his historic speech, "I Have a Dream
I Have a Dream
"I Have a Dream" is a 17-minute public speech by Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered on August 28, 1963, in which he called for racial equality and an end to discrimination...

", before the memorial honoring the president who had issued the Emancipation Proclamation
Emancipation Proclamation
The Emancipation Proclamation is an executive order issued by United States President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863, during the American Civil War using his war powers. It proclaimed the freedom of 3.1 million of the nation's 4 million slaves, and immediately freed 50,000 of them, with nearly...

 100 years earlier. The D.C. police also appreciated the location because it was surrounded on three sides by water, so that any incident could be easily contained. On August 28, 1983, crowds gathered again to mark the 20th Anniversary Mobilization for Jobs, Peace and Freedom, to reflect on progress in gaining civil rights for African Americans and to commit to correcting continuing injustices. The "I Have a Dream" speech is such a part of the Lincoln Memorial story, that the spot on which King stood, on the landing eighteen steps below Lincoln's statue, was engraved in 2003 in recognition of the 40th anniversary of the event. This engraving can be easy to miss unless one walks up the very center of the steps. The engraving is not large and the letters have not been painted in to make them more readable.

On May 9, 1970, President Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon
Richard Milhous Nixon was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. The only president to resign the office, Nixon had previously served as a US representative and senator from California and as the 36th Vice President of the United States from 1953 to 1961 under...

 had a middle-of-the-night impromptu, brief meeting with protesters
Student Strike of 1970
In the aftermath of the American Invasion of Cambodia on April 30, 1970, four students were killed at Kent State University on May 4, 1970 in Ohio, as well as two students at Jackson State College in Mississippi on May 14/15...

 preparing to march against the Vietnam War
Opposition to the Vietnam War
The movement against US involvment in the in Vietnam War began in the United States with demonstrations in 1964 and grew in strength in later years. The US became polarized between those who advocated continued involvement in Vietnam, and those who wanted peace. Peace movements consisted largely of...

 just days after the Kent State shootings
Kent State shootings
The Kent State shootings—also known as the May 4 massacre or the Kent State massacre—occurred at Kent State University in the city of Kent, Ohio, and involved the shooting of unarmed college students by members of the Ohio National Guard on Monday, May 4, 1970...

.

The Memorial today


Today, approximately 6 million people visit the memorial annually. In 2007, the Memorial was ranked seventh in the List of America's Favorite Architecture by the American Institute of Architects
American Institute of Architects
The American Institute of Architects is a professional organization for architects in the United States. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the AIA offers education, government advocacy, community redevelopment, and public outreach to support the architecture profession and improve its public image...

. The Memorial is open to the public 24 hours a day and is free to visit.

Depictions on U.S. currency



From 1959 to 2008, the Lincoln Memorial was shown on the reverse of the United States one cent
Lincoln cent
Below are the mintage figures for the Lincoln penny-Mintage figures:Lincoln wheat cent, 1909-1958 Lincoln Memorial cent, 1959-1982 ...

 coin, which bears Lincoln's portrait bust on the front. The statue of Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln (1920 statue)
Abraham Lincoln is a colossal seated figure of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln sculpted by Daniel Chester French and carved by the Piccirilli Brothers. It is situated in the Lincoln Memorial , on the National Mall, Washington, D.C., USA, and was unveiled in 1922...

 can be seen in the monument. This was done to mark the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's birth.

The memorial also appears on the back of the U.S. five dollar bill
United States five-dollar bill
The United States five-dollar bill or fiver is a denomination of United States currency. The $5 bill currently features U.S. President Abraham Lincoln's portrait on the front and the Lincoln Memorial on the back. All $5 bills issued today are Federal Reserve Notes...

, the front of which bears Lincoln's portrait.

In popular culture

  • In the 1996 science fiction movie, Independence Day
    Independence Day
    An Independence Day is an annual event commemorating the anniversary of a nation's assumption of independent statehood, usually after ceasing to be a colony or part of another nation or state, and more rarely after the end of a military occupation...

    , the Lincoln Memorial can be seen as a massive alien spacecraft enters the sky around Washington, DC.
  • In the 2009 comedy movie Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian, the statue of Lincoln comes to life and has a short conversation with the characters of Ben Stiller and Amy Adams and helps them defeat the Horus warriors.
  • In the 2011 super hero movie, X-Men: First Class
    X-Men: First Class
    X-Men: First Class is a comic book series published by Marvel Comics starring the X-Men.-Publication history:The original series was an eight-issue limited series. It began in September 2006 and ended in April 2007. It was written by Jeff Parker and penciled by Roger Cruz...

    , Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr are seen playing chess and talking on the steps of the memorial.
  • In the 2011 science fiction movie, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Megatron destroys the statue of Lincoln and then sits on the chair.
  • In the video game Command and Conquer: Red Alert 2, the Lincoln Memorial can be seen in missions that take place in Washington, D.C. In the Allied Campaign Lincolns head was replaced by a head of Stalin before America was liberated. In the Soviet Campaign, it was destroyed for a cash bounty.
  • In the video game Fallout 3
    Fallout 3
    Fallout 3 is an action role-playing game released by Bethesda Game Studios, and the third major installment in the Fallout series. The game was released in North America, Europe and Australia in October 2008, and in Japan in December 2008 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360...

    , in the 200 years since the war in 2077, the Lincoln Memorial has been damaged, including Lincoln's head having gone missing from the statue. The head is later found in the posession of several escaped slaves who want to return it to the memorial and restore it to its original condition.

See also


  • List of areas in the United States National Park System
  • National Register of Historic Places listings in the District of Columbia

External links