Mount Rushmore: A Monument to American History
Mount Rushmore is one of the most iconic landmarks in the United States, attracting millions of visitors every year. But how much do you know about the history and significance of this colossal sculpture? In this blog post, we will explore some of the facts and controversies surrounding Mount Rushmore, and why it is still a source of inspiration and debate today.
What is Mount Rushmore?
Mount Rushmore is a national memorial that features the 60-foot-tall (18 m) heads of four U.S. presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. The sculpture is carved into the granite face of Mount Rushmore, a mountain in the Black Hills near Keystone, South Dakota. The mountain was named after Charles E. Rushmore, a New York lawyer who visited the area in 1885 to inspect mining claims.
The four presidents were chosen by the sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, to represent the nation’s birth, growth, development and preservation, respectively. Borglum designed the sculpture, called Shrine of Democracy, and oversaw the project’s execution from 1927 to 1941 with the help of his son, Lincoln Borglum.
The carving was the idea of Doane Robinson, a historian for the state of South Dakota. Robinson originally wanted the sculpture to feature American West heroes, such as Lewis and Clark, their expedition guide Sacagawea, Oglala Lakota chief Red Cloud, Buffalo Bill Cody and Oglala Lakota chief Crazy Horse. However, Borglum believed that the sculpture should have broader appeal and chose the four presidents instead.
Peter Norbeck, U.S. senator from South Dakota, sponsored the project and secured federal funding. Construction began in 1927 and the presidents’ faces were completed between 1934 and 1939. After Gutzon Borglum died in March 1941, his son Lincoln took over as leader of the construction project. Each president was originally to be depicted from head to waist, but lack of funding forced construction to end on October 31, 1941.
Why is Mount Rushmore important?
Mount Rushmore is important because it symbolizes the ideals and achievements of the United States and its leaders. The four presidents represent different eras and aspects of American history:
– George Washington (1732–1799) was the first president of the United States and the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolution. He is considered the “Father of His Country” and a key figure in the founding of the nation.
– Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826) was the third president of the United States and the principal author of the Declaration of Independence. He is regarded as one of the most influential thinkers and statesmen in American history, and a champion of democracy and individual rights.
– Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919) was the 26th president of the United States and a leader of the Progressive Era. He is known for his domestic reforms, such as trust busting and conservation, as well as his foreign policy, such as the Panama Canal and the Roosevelt Corollary.
– Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865) was the 16th president of the United States and the leader of the Union during the Civil War. He is revered for his emancipation of enslaved people, his preservation of the nation and his eloquence as a speaker and writer.
Mount Rushmore also serves as a reminder of the challenges and sacrifices that these presidents faced in their pursuit of liberty and justice for all. The sculpture reflects their vision, courage and determination in shaping the destiny of America.
How is Mount Rushmore maintained?
Mount Rushmore requires regular maintenance to preserve its appearance and integrity. The National Park Service employs a team of specialists who use ropes and harnesses to rappel down the sculpture and inspect it for cracks, erosion or other damage. They also remove vegetation that grows on or near the sculpture, which can cause water retention or fire hazards.
The maintenance team uses various techniques to repair or prevent damage to the sculpture, such as sealants, grout or epoxy injections. They also clean off dirt or stains using gentle methods such as water or baking soda blasting. They avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasives that could harm
The maintenance team also monitors weather conditions that could affect Mount Rushmore, such as lightning strikes or heavy snowfall. They use sensors and cameras to detect any changes or threats to
The maintenance team works throughout
the year to ensure that Mount Rushmore remains a safe and beautiful attraction for generations to come.
What are some controversies surrounding Mount Rushmore?
Mount Rushmore is not without controversy, as it involves issues of land rights, cultural representation and historical interpretation. Some of these controversies are:
– The sculpture is built on land that was illegally taken from the Sioux Nation in the 1870s. The Sioux consider the Black Hills sacred and have never accepted or received compensation for their loss. In 1980, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in United States v. Sioux Nation of Indians that the taking of the Black Hills required just compensation, and awarded the tribe $102 million. However, the tribe rejected the money and demanded the return of the land.
– The sculpture is seen by some as a symbol of colonialism, oppression and genocide of Native Americans. The four presidents have been criticized for their policies or actions that harmed or displaced indigenous peoples, such as the Indian Removal Act, the Louisiana Purchase, the Spanish-American War and the Homestead Act. Some Native American activists have protested or vandalized Mount Rushmore to express their grievances and demand recognition and justice.
– The sculpture is also subject to different interpretations and perspectives of American history and identity. Some view Mount Rushmore as a tribute to democracy, freedom and patriotism, while others see it as a glorification of slavery, racism and imperialism. Some question the selection or exclusion of certain presidents or figures, while others propose adding more faces to the sculpture. Some celebrate Mount Rushmore as a national treasure, while others challenge its relevance or legitimacy in a changing society.
Mount Rushmore is a complex and controversial monument that reflects the diversity and
dynamism of American history and culture.