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The Lincoln Memorial

Symbolism in Stone


The Neoclassical memorial to America's 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, has become a dramatic setting for many important political events.
The Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC

The Lincoln Memorial

Photo © Allan Baxter / Getty Images
The Lincoln Memorial
Built: 1914-1922
Style: Neoclassical
Architect: Henry Bacon
Lincoln Stuatu: Daniel Chester French
Murals: Jules Guerin

Learn About the Lincoln Memorial

Many years went into planning a memorial for America's 16 president, Abraham Lincoln. An early proposal called for a statue of Lincoln surrounded by statues of 37 people, six on horseback. This idea was ruled out as too costly, so a variety of other plans were considered.

Decades later, on Lincoln's birthday in 1914, the first stone was laid. Architect Henry Bacon gave the memorial 36 Doric columns, representing the 36 states in the Union at the time of President Lincoln's death. Two more columns flank the entrance. Inside is a 19-foot tall statue of a seated Abraham Lincoln carved by sculptor Daniel Chester French.

The Neoclassical Lincoln Memorial was designed to symbolize Lincoln's ideal for a "more perfect union." The stone was drawn from several different states:

  • the walkway is granite from Massachusetts and stones from the Potomac River
  • the columns and interior are limestone from Indiana
  • the exterior walls and the statue are marble from Colorado
  • the floor is pink marble from Tennessee
The Lincoln Memorial provides a stately and dramatic backdrop for political events and important speeches. On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr delivered his favorite "I Have a Dream" speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

Learn more about Column Types and Styles >>>

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