The Washington Monument, a memorial structure designed and constructed in the nineteenth century, signifies an important tribute to the prestigious role and achievements of our nation’s founding father. Ideas for such a monument first arose in 1783, by which time “the fame George Washington, Commanding General and first President of the United States, was assured in the pantheon of statesmen of the world” (1). It was during this year that the Continental Congress proposed an “equestrian statue” in honor of “Washington’s services and his unique role in the founding of the new Republic” (1).
Despite the project’s popularity with the public, however, little action was taken following the suggestion until after the former president’s death in late 1799; and, even then, debate ensued as to the design and methods of funding. When construction finally began fifty years later, more negotiations developed within a wide range of aspects. Engineers argued over site location and an adequate foundation. Finances waned due to non-congressional funding, the nationwide Panic of 1837, and a general loss of faith in the project’s organizational capability. The sole supplier of marble struggled to meet the extensive demands of material needed in the latter part of construction. Political opposition (by the Know-Nothing Party) to the acceptance of foreign aid in funding the project led to radical events (namely, theft and seizure) that slowed progress for several years. And the Civil War resulted in the halt of construction altogether, creating two separate building phases as the country dealt with internal turmoil.
More important than the variety of obstacles these issues pr...
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...ew York City. On each side of the capstone, the official record for the construction of the monument was engraved. “…The west face of the capstone read, “Corner Stone laid on bed of foundation, July 4, 1848. First stone at height of 152 feet laid August 7, 1880. Capstone set December 6, 1884; and the east face read “LAUS DEO (Ch. 5).” Both the north and south faces of the stone named the commission members and the key men involved in the completion of the Washington Monument.
In conclusion, the lengthy process involved in constructing the Washington Monument was one that, despite its difficulties and setbacks, has achieved the project’s initial goal: the impressive structure stands in the Nation’s Capital as “a memorial … worthy of the memory of George Washington.
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