Tuesday, February 12, 2013
A consecration ceremony was held on February 12, 1914, for construction of the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Designed as a Greek Doric temple by Beaux-Arts architect Henry Bacon, its exterior is lined with 36 Doric columns, one for each state of the Union at Lincoln’s death. The names of all 48 states at the time of completion in 1922 are carved around the memorial’s top. Full texts of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and Second Inaugural Address are inscribed on the south and north interior walls, respectively. Daniel Chester French’s statue of Lincoln is 19 feet in both height and width, and the sculptor studied plaster casts of Lincoln's hands and face, made five years before the assassination. Lincoln’s seated, contemplative pose reflected a political desire to show the Savior of the Union rather than the Great Emancipator. In 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr., dramatically altered that emphasis.