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Thomas Jefferson Memorial - History
By Sarah Lane
Jan 31, 2005, 11:23

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Thomas Jefferson Memorial - History

The Thomas Jefferson Memorial was constructed for us to remember the array of accomplishments of our third president. He was the author of The Declaration of Independence, a teacher, farmer, intellectual, and an architect. He was one of this nation’s ‘Founding Fathers,’ which was why President Franklin Delano Roosevelt felt that he deserved a memorial. He believed that Jefferson’s accomplishments were just as important as those of Lincoln and Washington, who already had memorials dedicated in their memory.

It was not until 1934 that Congress passed a resolution that established a Thomas Jefferson Memorial Commission for planning, designing, and constructing the memorial. The process was fraught with complications, but in the end the commission chose a design by the McMillan Commission based on creating a five-point composition in the center of the city. This idea was first proposed by Pierre L’Enfant, who constructed the original design for the Federal city.

The design for the building that would house the 19 foot bronze statue of Jefferson
was submitted by a man named John Russell Pope. He chose a most fitting design, as it was the plan that Jefferson used for his home Monticello and the University of Virginia. The structure was a circular dome based on the pantheon in Rome, which embodied the classical architectural style that Jefferson loved. The design was accepted in 1936 and the work began.

On the inside of the memorial are engraved inscriptions from The Declaration of Independence, words from Jefferson’s speeches, and selections of his writings. When all was said and done, the monument cost just over $3 million dollars and now takes up about 2.5 acres in the National Mall. The dome is over 129 feet high and 4 feet thick, and the memorial weighs over 32,000 tons! The memorial was dedicated in 1943 on the 200th anniversary of Jefferson’s birth. Pay a visit to the National Mall where you will find this and many other symbols of the creation of our nation.

Source:       PageWise, Inc., James Politte

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