May 30, 1922 – Dedication of the Lincoln Memorial

On this day in history, the Lincoln Memorial was dedicated in Washington, D.C. Lincoln’s only surviving son Robert was a special guest, although he did not speak at the ceremony.

Robert Lincoln, center, attending the ceremony

Robert Lincoln, center, attending the ceremony

Robert, born in 1843, was the eldest of the four Lincoln sons. He served briefly in the Civil War (against his parents’ wishes but only as an aide) with Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant, being present at General Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Court House. Robert went on to have a successful career as a lawyer and businessman, serving as Secretary of War under Presidents James Garfield and Chester Arthur. In Benjamin Harrison’s administration, he served as Minister to Great Britain. He died at his home in Vermont in 1926 and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery within sight of his father’s memorial.

The Lincoln Memorial under construction

The Lincoln Memorial under construction

The Lincoln Memorial is at the west end of the National Mall and stands 190 feet long, 119 feet wide, and almost 100 feet high. It is surrounded by a peristyle of 38 fluted Doric columns, one for each of the thirty six states in the Union at the time of Lincoln’s death, and two columns at the entrance behind the colonnade. The north and south side chambers contain carved inscriptions of Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address and his Gettysburg Address. (The F in the word “FUTURE” in Lincoln’s second inaugural address was originally carved as an E, and was later repaired.)


The central hall features the solitary figure of Lincoln which took four years to carve by the renowned marble carvers, the Piccirilli brothers, under the supervision of the sculptor Daniel Chester French. The statue of Lincoln is 19 feet high and weighs 175 tons.


You can see the very interesting design proposals that were not chosen for the Lincoln Memorial here.


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