Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial
a large building in Washington, DC, in memory of President Abraham Lincoln. It is made of marble and the design by Henry Bacon was based on the Parthenon in Athens, Greece. The Memorial is in West Potomac Park at one end of The Mall and was completed in 1922. Inside is a large statue of Lincoln sitting in a chair. The words of his Gettysburg Address and his speech at his second Inauguration Day are cut into stone inside the building.

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  stately monument in Washington, D.C. (Washington), honouring Abraham Lincoln (Lincoln, Abraham), the 16th president of the United States, and “the virtues of tolerance, honesty, and constancy in the human spirit.” Designed by Henry Bacon (Bacon, Henry) on a plan similar to that of the Parthenon in Athens, the structure was constructed on reclaimed marshland along the banks of the Potomac River. The site selection caused controversy; the speaker of the House of Representatives, Joseph Cannon, favoured a more prominent spot across the Potomac, maintaining: “I'll never let a memorial to Abraham Lincoln be erected in that g– damned swamp.” The cornerstone was set in 1915, and the completed memorial was dedicated before more than 50,000 people on May 30, 1922. Lincoln's only surviving son, Robert Todd Lincoln (Lincoln, Robert Todd), attended the ceremony. President Warren G. Harding (Harding, Warren G.) and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court William Howard Taft (Taft, William Howard), a former president, delivered addresses. Ironically, despite Lincoln's renown as the “Great Emancipator,” the dedication ceremonies were strictly segregated; even Robert Moton, president of Tuskegee Institute, who spoke in the ceremony, was not allowed to sit on the speaker's platform and instead was required to sit in an area reserved for African Americans.

      The Lincoln Memorial includes 36 columns of Colorado marble, each 44 feet (13.4 metres) high, one for each state in the Union in 1860, the year in which Lincoln was elected. The names of the 48 contiguous states are listed above the colonnade, and the dates of their admission to the Union are engraved in Roman numerals. Because Hawaii and Alaska attained statehood several decades after the Lincoln Memorial was finished, their names are inscribed on a plaque located on the front steps.

      The interior features a 19-foot (5.8-metre) seated statue of Lincoln made of Georgia white marble. It was assembled on the premises from 28 pieces and rests on a pedestal of Tennessee marble. The statue was designed by Daniel Chester French (French, Daniel Chester) and carved by the Piccirilli brothers of New York. Inscribed on the south wall of the monument is Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, on the north wall his Second Inaugural Address. On the ceiling are two paintings by Jules Guerin, Reunion and Progress and Emancipation of a Race. On a direct east-west axis with the Washington Monument and the United States Capitol (Capitol, United States), the Lincoln Memorial serves as the terminus to the western end of the Mall (Mall, the). It is situated on the Reflecting Pool near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Korean War Veterans Memorial.

      The Lincoln Memorial was an important symbol of the American civil rights movement. Marian Anderson (Anderson, Marian), the famed African American contralto, with the support of first lady Eleanor Roosevelt (Roosevelt, Eleanor), was granted permission by the Department of the Interior to perform at the Lincoln Memorial in 1939 after being denied the right to sing at Constitution Hall by the Daughters of the American Revolution. In 1963, on the 100th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. (King, Martin Luther, Jr.), delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in front of more than 200,000 people.

B. Philip Bigler

Additional Reading
Information on the Lincoln Memorial and other important sites in Washington, D.C., can be found in a variety of sources, including Philip Bigler, Washington in Focus: The Photo History of the Nation's Capital (1988); Junior League of Washington, The City of Washington: An Illustrated History, ed. by Thomas Froncek (1977, reissued 1992); Charles Ewing, Yesterday's Washington, D.C. (1976); Constance McLaughlin Green, Washington, 2 vol. (1962–63; also published as Washington: A History of the Capitol, 1800–1950, 2 vol. in 1, 1976); Richard W. Longstreth (ed.), The Mall in Washington: 1791–1991 (1991); and Donald Kennon and Richard Striner, Washington Past and Present: A Guide to the Nation's Capital, 2nd ed. (1983, reissued 1993).B. Philip Bigler

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