tv The Civil War Creating the Lincoln Memorial CSPAN February 18, 2019 8:00pm-9:01pm EST
next harold holzer talks about his book monument man, the life and art of daniel chester french which examines the life of the sculptor best known for the statue of lincoln that serves as the memorial centerpiece. this program from the annual lincoln forum symposium is about an hour. >> good afternoon and welcome to the second session of the lincoln forum. i want to make one correction before we get started, in your packets there are biographies and mind suggests that i and the provost at howard university. i think my boss the provost would be very surprised to hear that okay. that is him responding. so we will start with that but in any case i had the great pleasure of introducing harold holzer, i have known harold a
quarter of a century. i'm reminded since the last century that's right but anyway i have known harold nearly a quarter of a century and have had the pleasure of working with him and frank both on and off publication and several national boards including this one. as the bio in your packet indicates harold is currently the director of the roosevelt house public policy institute at hunter college and as you all know he is the cofounder with frank williams of the forum which they established 24 years ago. he is currently our cochair. in his past lives harold chaired the lincoln bicentennial foundation and cochaired the lincoln bicentennial commission.
harold is the most prolific writer i have ever met. he is the author, co-author or editor of 53 books and counting, and most of them there are some i think a few that are not. his 2015 lincoln and the power of the press won the coveted lincoln prize and a few slightly less prestigious awards, one the from the columbia journalism school and the other from the kennedy school at harvard. in 2008 then president george bush awarded him the national humanities medal. this afternoon we will be among the lucky few to be introduced to his most recent work which will not be widely available until january as i understand it. the title is monument man, the
life and art of daniel chester french, the sculptor of the lincoln memorial. it is my distinct pleasure to present harold holzer. >> i would love all eyes to be on me but i have some really interesting silent movie footage for you to see. see if you can pick out people. this is the dedication of the lincoln memorial. there is robert lincoln and this is the crowd gathering in front of the reflecting pool. this is memorial day 1922, thousands and thousands of people and you will see some of them with it's not raining it's just really sunny in washington . i am going to be speaking
about the career that leads up to actually what turned out to be a contentious moment in american history as president harding accepts the lincoln memorial on behalf of the american people. routes of dignitary on the top steps which among whom is daniel chester french, the subject of today's talk. this is the longest minute 15 seconds i have ever witnessed. there are the umbrellas that you can see, keep this in mind as we go if we survive to go further on in the lecture. i think we can switch. so this is the story of the man who produced the statue that created all of that fuss on may 30, 1922. it is the story of the
remarkable career that led up to that moment and that iconic moment itself. the lincoln memorial, what it was about in the 19 teens and 20s , what it became, it is a redemptive story in a way and also a story of great creativity , of government getting things right, of organizations cooperating with a lot of controversy. it requires you to go back in time, maybe i don't have to say this, to a moment when public sculpture and statuary was really important to people as it has become again right? reinterpreting, reimagining it and sometimes criticizing public sculpture that is in our faces all the time and that we often take for granted. well this is the guy, yes i know, this is the guy who produced the lincoln memorial.
born in 1850 in chester new hampshire his father was a lawyer expected his son to be a lawyer and when this picture was taken when he was three years old he always had great hair up until a moment as you will see. he was smiling and i just found this to be a moment of interest in the world of art. it is almost impossible to have a smile frozen and he allegedly the photographer had a little bird he distracted his children his child subjects with. interestingly daniel chester french became a birdwatcher and lover . here he is with his friend william brewster who became the most famous ornithologist in the country. on april 14 april 15, 1865 daniel chester french was birdwatching in amherst massachusetts his new hometown
and put a note in his diary which he kept meticulously. it said first ruby crowned ringlet of the spring. he could have added no other news, that is how uninterested he was in the fact that abraham lincoln his most famous object died that day. it didn't effect him at all. when he did find is that he was not very good at mit which his father sent him to. his grades were appalling and he begged his father to give him art lessons. by then they lived in concord and there were some really wonderful teachers they are. may alcott on the left, the sister of louisa may alcott was the town's most famous drawing instructor. she gave french his first sculpting tools which he carried with him wherever he worked the rest of his life. john quincy adams ward studied with him in the west 50s in
manhattan and learned how little clay sculptures are transformed into giant public sculptures through plaster molds and scaffolding in all of the things he had no clue about as they related to the art he was starting to love. william remer on the right, a painter and also an anatomist, french joined his all-girls anatomy class and indoor it for about nine months before their teasing or his adolescent embarrassment drove him out of the class. as he said, i didn't want to be an embarrassment to the girls, it may have been the other way around. his early career was spent searching for a style and inspiration. in the beginning he was sort of doing a little bit of the work that william rogers was doing, the same kind of things. this was his version of rogers
groups. this one is called matchmaking. believe it or not this was a bestseller and what he learned from it was never sell cheap. he became quite a businessman. the rights to this he sold for $15. as he put it it took off like wildfire, his quotes are never great. he is not a writer he is an artist. that would not have been my choice of words but that is what he said. he said thousands were made off of this small thing. by 1871 he comes of age, he is 21 and again that great head of hair. i am so envious. as you will see he suffered the same fate as i did. he decides, what is a young artist to do? he must study abroad. just before he makes the decision to go to europe, his
hometown decides to do a statue of the fight at the old northbridge in concord. how do you celebrate the minutemen who had risen to the threat of the british invasion and fought them off with their home muskets and without uniforms? there was no competition for this work. daniel chester french was the hometown boy. it didn't matter that he had never done a sculpture larger than 3 feet. he got the job. it is sort of remarkable that it happened. his first model is lost and was rejected and he decided to consult the apollo belvedere, at least a copy of it that was on view at the in boston across the river. from that he began doing
drawings of legs, torsos that would create a sense of torsion and drama for the figure he would do. of course then it begins to take the shape as he writes descriptive passages of what we know as the minuteman. this is taken around 1875. the dedication was a tremendous event. ulysses s grant was there, to represent rhode island our favorite topic of the day. luisa may alcott arrived and said, where is my seat? she was already pretty famous and the master of ceremonies said your sieges anywhere but on this platform. she left. she did not stay. then the platform collapsed. daniel chester french did not get paid for this iconic work,
which is pretty good for a guy that didn't know how to make a statue. he made a mold and they turned it upside down and filled it with clay, the head fell off he didn't know he was supposed to brace the head. he put it back on and somehow sent it to a foundry and had it done in bronze. he got no pay for it. he didn't want pay he just wanted the honor of doing the work. later they gave him a $1000 bonus and he later made replicas for the rest of his life at $1500 a piece. he again became a very canny businessman. i am sure you've all seen the work, it has become a symbol of everything from war bonds to the national rifle association to the first instant tapioca pudding, ready in a minute get it? or the national guard, always ready always there.
french did not come home for this moment. he was i think and i've had disagreements with my friends where his studio is located, he was abroad and it was not easy to get a 747 back to boston, but he could have come back. i think he was just too nervous and of course it created a sensation. this is where he is when the dedication takes place. he is in florence with a view of the from his window and he is studying with higher powers a very famous american sculpture by then living in florence and probably falls in love with powers his daughter so he moves on to the sculptural palazzo of thomas ball who is on the rights. thomas ball is the sculpture interestingly of the emancipation group that is dedicated in washington dc the
year afterwards with frederick douglass giving these famous a lot about whether abraham lincoln was the white man's president or the black man's president. he is seeing the model of it in this studio and falls in with the family and they are of course he is on the left kneeling and that young woman is the next woman he fell in love with that i think the great love of his life, thomas ball's daughter lizzie. he is a serious ex-patriot working, learning getting very few commissions and he works on this great classical work and he thinks the awakening of, it's a visualization of the myth of a handsome greek shepherd a beautiful greek shepherd who is awakened by a kiss, i don't know it was not as successful. in 1876 french returns to boston
after two years away. he is met by a revenue cutter, an official government ship from the treasury department and he assumes it is just coming to pick up the mail and then he hears himself being paged. will daniel chester french please board the revenue cutter. his father is in the cutter and his father did so much to nurture and support him. his father has become the assistant secretary of the treasury in the days of the grant administration. i guess you can commandeer a revenue cutter if you are the assistant secretary. dan says he doesn't know what he is going to do in his father says come to washington and begin your work in my house. you will get a studio one of the earliest things he does is a bust of his wonderful patron father, who indoors several
administrations all the way up to the dawn of the democrats returning to the white house. he also becomes friendly with his uncle. the french family is very complicated. daniel chester french marries his cousin whose name is french because she is his first cousin and he is also the nephew of benjamin brown french, a lot of french is here. bb french was the commissioner of public buildings under lincoln. he is the man to whom lincoln said, i am not going to spend one more penny for flubbed doves for this old house when the soldiers can't have blankets. now benjamin takes dan to the white house to meet the and french whispers, grant does not like abraham lincoln with apology to john and then he says something really rude about julia. he records it and says julia greeted us but our eye was up the chimney.
that's mean because julia had a roving eye and it was pretty tacky. anyway. dan gets some work and he is assigned through his father's influence to do sculptures for the top of post offices in st. louis and boston. it is sort of degrading although he does good work and because he gets paid per dm he doesn't even get commissions. he is not happy and he decides to return to concord and build a new studio. he needs a new inspiration and another minuteman. again the answer to his reputation his building is local. he does a bust of emerson as an old man, emerson regales him with stories and says the more you work on it the more it resembles me and the worse it looks. finally he says this is the face i see when i shave. that is his greatest compliment. again this is french recording
a great writer. it is all in the sculpture. that becomes a full-length sculpture with emerson's famous overcoat which was famous oliver concord because he walked around in this gigantic flowing coat. he developed some specialties along the way, one of them is a sculptor of college symbols. this is his work in his studio on a statue of thomas gallaudet and his site challenged first pupils. here is the statue as it appears that gallaudet college with the founder or inspiration for the college of signing. it is still there and so is this statue of john harvard. it is not in this location anymore , this is memorial hall. french decided it should be moved.
this statue according to harvard tradition is venerated by day and urinated by night. there is something about the tradition of abuse of daniels college statues. the young man had died early so his parents funded a statue of him in a sweater and again it looks too modern for french and every time princeton won a football game which was sell them they would knock over the statue. finally they took it off campus. perhaps the most famous of his challenged statues was his alma mater at columbia university. almost as soon as it was built it was beaned by a baseball allegedly hit almost 500 feet by the star of the columbia baseball team. who can guess who that was? lou gehrig absolutely.
about 50 years later or 40 years later summa planted an explosive device during the height of the protests against the vietnam war and blew a gaping hole in the throne. it did not damage the statue but whoever the president was it was hauled off campus and stored for years. another specialty french develops the civil war. he does this wonderful looming ulysses s grant for philadelphia and he becomes an equestrian specialist sort of. he has a guy named edward c potter. potter does the horses. french does the people. it was a lot of assembly-line in public sculpture at the end of the 19th century. the same combination for general hooker in boston.
these are big events. this is the dedication for the hooker equestrian in boston in the 1890s. he does draper, he finishes sheridan in albany and he does i think is ms. beautiful civil war memorial known as morning victory. its meaning you're not lamenting the fact that there is victory, there is this figure of victory in morning for the melvin brothers, three of whom died in the civil war and the living brother funded this beautiful memorial which is in the cemetery in concord. one died of disease and one at petersburg. his most famous work of the 19th century was this, he was hired by the world's columbian exposition, the world's fair of 1893 in chicago. the white city, 148 sculptors
were invited to produce works for that event but he got the big, the republic. it was supposed to rival the statue of liberty. it stood 65 feet high on a 35 foot base and it rained over the lagoon in the white city. carved on site by the way from a model he brought back from a second trip to europe from paris this time. they built a stairway inside so they could work on the head. the crown was illuminated by electricity and it faced this beautiful white city. the only problem is that the sculpture and the almost all of the buildings, say for the ones that later became the art institute and the science museum in chicago, all of them were made of a element or a combination of elements called
jute j you te. thick paste which is called staff in the art world which is made up of plaster of paris, cement and alizarin. probably not a good idea to have the whole city made of glycerin in chicago and guess what happened? yes everything, they would have had to tear it down so i'm not sure that that fire happened spontaneously but all of it did burned down, the whole white city and the statue of the republic. supposedly the water was on fire everything was so hot. the good news is french made a couple of replicas one put up for the centennial for the state of illinois and it is in a park in a traffic circle, a gilded version and it has been ignored for years. the obama presidential library is being built right behind the
republic so it will have a renaissance. by now he is a pretty a claim to sculptor and he thinks it is time for him to emulate his competitors slightly older competitor and relocate. he buys a farmhouse in the berkshires, $3000 for 150 acres and he replaces it with a country mansion designed by a young architect named henry bacon who he has used for a few projects. bacon then built a studio down the path from the house and begins his work in the studio. i hope you all see he has now lost his hair a price of success and he goes to work on a george washington equestrian and it is his first international success.
this is a postcard he collected at the opening ceremony where the music the marseille is and the national anthem and stars & stripes forever were performed by no less than john philip sousa. here he is in the first decade of the 20th century when he learns the state of nebraska, the capital city of lincoln once a statue of lincoln in time for 1909 and he gets the great commission. now he's already done his lincoln for chicago and that is a tough act to follow. french begins his research. what does a sculptor have to do to create a lincoln? he gets a set of frederick hill photographs of abraham lincoln, privately printed tips in
photographs and they also sent french photographs to consult individually in larger format. we don't know which photograph he used but he did say he wanted to show lincoln with the crushing weight of a war still to be won and admits the more i study lincoln the bigger he seems. it is he says my lincoln problem. this is the first 36 inch model. he has a bowed head and arms collapsed in front. he packs it up and takes it to lincoln nebraska and meets a woman who had seen abraham lincoln at the lincoln douglas debates and she says, i remembered he had a curious way of standing before he was to speak. he stood with his hands in front of him as if he was
collecting his thoughts. they then impact the model and put it on display in the woman said, you were there? he wasn't but he had somehow intuitive in him. he called this his high watermark. it did not make it or get unveiled until september 1912. 1500 pounds of bronze not william jennings bryan was the of the day it was dedicated. brian said in his speech, is there anyone in this audience who sought abraham lincoln? apparently they said 100 hands shot up . in 1912, that's 50 years later and brian says it must be compensation for what you suffered in that were to have had the chance to look upon his sad face.
a local lady read the gettysburg address which is inscribed in the back of the statue by henry bacon and french called this his high watermark and emerge to. there it is. the capital has changed it is now the tallest state capital in the country but the sculpture is still there and there he is in his smock in the midteens. he is so famous that theodore roosevelt asked him to join a new national commission for the fine arts. he has had enough of the way the national mall looks. it is too hard to get the dc government to clear land and make decisions so he will create a national commission and french agrees to serve. they he actually leaves his conservative republican roots and takes a fancy to theodore roosevelt.
taft is the one who forms the commission and french goes to work there this is the commission at work. daniel chester french at the head of the table. while this will present a bit of a problem, the next big project is a project referred since 1865 and that is a statue of lincoln in washington. now washington has statues of lincoln. a thomas ball statue of the emancipator is already in washington. flannery's statue of lincoln is in washington. the centennial commission is determined to build a temple to honor abraham lincoln and this is the man they choose to do it. he looks very much like a businessman. this was around the time that he joined the board of my alma mater the metropolitan museum of art and he became its
curator of sculpture and did everything. he acquired art and as you can see very much the dignified fellow. he is presiding now over with the commission over the decision of where to put this new building. one of the choices is union station. they discard this is the way union station looked when it was built. it was discarded because people thought if commuters and passengers came through they would not pay enough attention to a lincoln statue if it was near a railroad station. we lucked out there. next choice was at the base of the u.s. capital. we already had this planned for a grant statue maybe we shouldn't do this at the capital. what if we can create a new avenue and do it at the other end that doesn't seem like a great idea either.
the soldiers home, that would be a great place, lincoln spent much time there, also a problem , it is remote so we won't do it at the soldiers home. what about the old naval observatory? lincoln spent time there and it was decided that was a little obscure. my favorite alternative site was meridian hill in columbia heights. i don't know why they decided not to do it there but it could have been that there is already a statue of james buchanan so it seemed a little inappropriate. the battle gets down to these elaborately bearded men. uncle joe cannon the former speaker of the house who had seen abraham lincoln in illinois and john hay, that is young handsome john hay now the secretary of state and he wants
south potomac park at the end of what will be a reflecting pool. then a swamp, and uncle joe says that he will be if he will ever let a memorial to lincoln be elected in that swamp. he said i would rather put it in arlington as a symbol of reconciliation and there was a period when they discussed arlington and then someone said halfway down the road between gettysburg and washington. again very very big discussions about where it was decided. finally testifies before congress and he was not approached too close to the immortals. is monument should stand alone, remote from the common habitations of man, apart from the business and turmoil of the city. isolated and distinguished and
serene. they choose west potomac park. it is not easy, they find a lot of water as they dig down but they did and for an architect after all of the drama about the site there is no drama. henry bacon the air to heir is chosen and there was no one else charles mckim had died and he envisions a copy in athens as the most appropriate tribute to abraham lincoln in the swamp. who then to do the sculpture? daniel chester french has been involved in competitions for his entire career.
he almost lost the gallaudet commission when a non-hearing sculpture came forward and said he should be considered for the gallaudet. he competed for other commissions and lost some and he won some, now he is 5657 years old and he doesn't want to compete. so henry bacon says, okay i will hire my mentor and friend and no one really makes a fuss. vinnie ream wanted to do it i left her out her statue was in the capitol rotunda and she saw lincoln. once the commission but bacon chooses french. while people are considering there is a slight problem the government is now funding this okay and it is costing a fortune to take piles in the swamp.
they said why don't we just take the same garden statue, make a replica and put that in the lincoln memorial? i don't know what french said to henry bacon but it was apparently enough for bacon to tell mrs. saint gordon who was a formidable lobbyist that he found the idea quote repugnant and that, your husband would be turning over in his grave if he thought we were thinking of that. by the skin of his teeth the idea was turned down and the idea for a seated lincoln is conceived and accepted. there is one big problem, henry bacon is choosing his old employer daniel chester french but he is on the national commission for fine arts. he is the chairman. he has to approve the choice. even in washington that is a little complicated.
and by the way french doesn't resign from the commission until after he gets the commission that get the contract then he does resign and he begins his work. he's got those photographs and now he acquires the life mask. that is not damage he is doing there with those nails, he is simply doing that to measure distances between the eyes and nose and mouth. that is what sculptors do. he acquired the cast of lincoln's hands and made casts of his own hands in the exact form that he wanted them to take in his proposed sculpture. and within a couple of months he writes, it should interest you to know i am making models, i am feeling very much encouraged and i am suspicious of my first enthusiasm and there it is. that is the first model of the lincoln memorial. then he says to henry bacon if
i get anything worthwhile i should expect you to come and see what i have to offer. french is in charge and what he does is it is to make ever larger models so this is a three foot model and a six foot model. that is dan himself posing with it and posing with the little original model below the coach to show you how it has preceded. how you do his clothes and someone said, he is not going to put him in the primitive clothing that had done for a sculpture in london. he preferred him to be hopeless but his appreciation of the fitness of things would have led him to dress like the man in doubt him. it really is easier to dress conventionally then peculiarly. i can't imagine lincoln
bothering to dress with any affectation or even carelessness. degrasse show his clothing was made of fine material and by a good tailor. there was nothing careless about them except maybe the way that they were worn. taft came and viewed this model in new york where french now has a studio. the lincoln memorial commission and national fine arts commission approves, french ones one more validation and invites robert lincoln. robert lincoln says, there he is, he says, maybe you should bring it to me in washington and french says you have to see it in the studio. this goes on and on, i don't know if it was a power-play or not a power-play but only when french did this work did robert come to see it.
this is in the new york historical society. it is almost unexplained there in. there is a model for the lincoln memorial, it is more than that. french ingeniously goes to see the shell of the building and says, what i am making will be a 12 foot high statue it will be dwarfed in this atrium. i want it to be 19 feet and just like that he figures it out. it is adding $50,000 to the budget, which was a lot of money then and he says that is the only way i will do it and i am not doing bronze i am doing marble, it is harmonious. he makes this plaster head to fit a 19 foot statue. he has it taken down to washington and hang hung in the atrium by a rope and that is where robert lincoln finally sees and that is what he got. french gets his way luckily because the proportions of the symmetry is perfect.
robert lincoln apparently approved. here are the unsung heroes. the peach really brothers, i just like saying their names. these were the italian marble cutters who worked in the bronx in a gigantic shed not far from where yankee stadium would rise in just a few years. they employed marble carvers. they got the models and they worked added. i found this amazing magazine story where the models and heads were illustrated in this magazine and there is the seated model from which they are working and here is the cluttered studio. my favorite story is when they broke for
bathroom breaks or meals one of the brothers would hand the chisel to the next and the next brother we continue as if the first brother were carving. of course they learned it from their father and from their father's father so this was a family trade. at a certain moment and french often joined them they would break for macaroni which one of the brothers would make every day. it was almost like having frank williams as a friend, there is always food involved. it was not until 1920 did french declare it done and then it shipped in 30 marble blocks some of which were defective and had to be replaced and taken and set up in washington. this was a remarkable picture made in the middle of that process. here it is, this is the cover of my book fully assembled with
french and henry bacon standing in front of it. i'm sure you have all been there and that gives you the impression of the size of the sculpture. french decides he has done all he can do and he goes off to italy and sees his daughter married there and then doesn't come back until it is time for that opening day i showed you in the beginning. this is memorial day 1922 and the folks who gathered by the way would see that inscription. he was not supposed to write the inscription. the man who did the original author was robert underwood johnson, ulysses s grant editor at the century magazine. he got the gig and i don't know what happened. the work was eventually done by the new york tribune's art critic a man named royal cortese oce. he wrote these
words in this temple as in the hearts of the people for whom he saved the union, the memory of abraham lincoln is inscribed to forever., beautiful right? it was absolutely attacked in 1922. maybe that was one of the points because what followed is the dedication ceremony from in a way . that is the beginning of my book but getting toward the end of my talk. as the pageant gets underway the north carolina bourne superintendent of public buildings which was benjamin french's old job armed with guns and bayonets goes to the front of the audience were african-americans from washington have gathered early
to be present for a statue dedicated to a man they arguably revered and they said get out, this is not your area. there is a color to section in the back and people were herded, even if they had tickets to section 5 which many did it became famous in the black press, they went back into the grass and weeds said one black newspaper with seats arranged for white people with chairs and those for colored had benches without backs. a day of jubilation turned into a scene of consternation and chagrin. some 21 prominent african- americans including several federal officials and administrator, the first african-american road scholar walked out in protest. the people who stayed called the area the french term which is
what the chicago defender described their ghetto of the day as. they watched from a distance of blocks away in an area designed to emphasize their second-class status and their separateness. to add insult to injury a group described as gray clad survivors of the confederate army received special seats of honor alongside equally ancient veterans of the union. an african-american eyewitness saw cruel irony in the fact that such jim crow is him of the greatest grossest sort had been shown by the hypocrites of this great nation on a day devoted to lincoln. you don't see any of this in the coverage in the new york times or washington post or washington star, the new york tribune. it is only in the chicago defender and the newspapers a
vigorous african-american press of the day . it was under the headline lincoln harding james crow and taft. finally as everyone gathered and i don't even know what slide i am up to, only one african-american was on the top step. booker t. washington's successor as principal of the tuskegee institute. in what was widely reported as a generous gesture they invited him to represent the colored people and deliver a speech. he had to submit his speech in advance to the harding administration.
this is what he wrote in the original. so long as any group within our nation is denied the full protection of the law than what lincoln called his unfinished work remained unfinished still any memorial would be but a hollow mockery unless we together can make real in our life in every state and every section d things for which he stood. they told him which paragraphs had to be struck from his address that he did not want it censored. they said you are free to not speak at all. mouton gave a truncated sanitized version of his speech and it remained unpublished for decades, what he really wanted to say and the outrage continued that we never learned about it in school.
after that he was assured off the top step as if you could no longer remain among the other dignitaries. all of this happened as william howard taft comes on and says, howard would soften lincoln's anguish to build up the south has come to realize an assassin robbed the section of their greatest friend. again the defender harding who accepted and says much of the same thing was an abject attempt to justify in words of apology the greatest act of the greatest man who ever lived. we will dedicate it later said the chicago defender, this is not a real dedication.
well, for 10ã12 years, elinor roosevelt helped change that when marian anderson could not, was not allowed to sing in the dar building in washington. eleanor helped organize a memorable easter day concert in the lincoln memorial. they thought a few thousand people might come in the rain. 50,000 people came, and marian anderson sang my country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty from the steps of the lincoln memorial. changing the iconography of that place forever. and permanently. so did frank capra. in 1939. mr. smith goes to washington. one of the first things mr. smith sees is the lincoln memorial. and a man of color with tears streaming down his face reads
the final word of the gettysburg address that is inscribed there. young mr. lincoln, which is about new salem, ends with the words, the music of the battle hymn and the lincoln memorial. it is now the icon of all icons. but not yet the apogee. that comes in 1963. as the epicenter of the march on one sink in. washington. where the leaders of the civil rights movement white and black gathered at the memorial. for the ceremonies for that august day. by the way, where you see doctor king's second from the right on the bottom row next to him on his right is a philip randolph who has his own statue in union station now, third from the left on top is the young john lewis who is still a member of congress. and of course, there he is, being interviewed by.
john daly. of what's my line of fame. right before this moment. the i have a dream speech begins , five score years ago a great american, in whose symbolic shadow we sign today, we sin today, signed the emancipation proclamation. this momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity. it has been so long since then that in 2013, there was a 50th anniversary ceremony in which the speech was repeated. what else has the lincoln memorial become? it is the place where presidents elect to spend their last nights as residents elect. it is the ceremonial launching pad of the inauguration. here is one. here is another.
barack obama. and the trump family. so it continues as, i don't know, one can say, at its ideal best, a unifying symbol, a symbol of hope and of aspiration. it is also a symbol of mourning and distress. this is the famous her blog cartoon, published on november 23, 1963. to signal our sorrow at the death of john kennedy. this is lincoln responding to the election of barack obama. and yes there was a cartoon, a lot of cartoons about the election of donald trump, how would the lincoln memorial react? well who knows, but this was one. [ laughter ]and it is just surprise, that is all it says,
right? this is jan daniel chester french in front of the memorial he built as an old man. robert lincoln used to visit, he would stop, his driver would hold his car and he would go up and say, isn't it magnificent? by then, the iconography and the meaning had not changed. i am rather glad it has changed from the original concept. i could not help throwing this in because i took judy collins to see it, and she was so overcome that she did a spontaneous rendition of this land is your land in front of the station. of the statue. four years after it was dedicated, a young african- american from washington, who was employed as a bus boy, because he could not get much work after serving as a historian's assistant, visited the lincoln memorial. he was a soon to enroll alongside thurgood marshall at
lincoln university. he was destined to emerge one day as a poet and social activists. his name was langston hughes. and this is what he wrote in 1926. true then, true now. and true, hopefully it will be true always. let's go see old abe, sitting in the marble, and the moonlight. sitting lonely in the marble and the moonlight. quiet for 10,000 centuries, old abe, quiet for 1 million million years, quiet and yet a voice forever against the timeless walls of time. old abe. daniel chester french had endeavored to produce an adequate statue of the nation's best-loved man. in so doing, he produced the nation's best-loved statue. it took a while for it to gather
the gravitas and the multiplicity of meanings it now evokes. but what could be more fitting and proper, that this endeavor now reflects the full panoply of hopes and dreams of all the american people. thank you. [ applause ] thank you. [ applause ] thank you. i am sure that is mostly for daniel chester french but i will take what i can get, so thanks. i am told by edmund that we have a little bit of time for questions so please come forward. yeah. oh, wait okay.
>> there are two images or pictures that i find really wonderful, one with fidel castro at the seat of the lincoln memorial, and call me and chroma. are there any other world people that you can tell us about that had pictures there? no i'm sorry. in the days before security became onerous, it was a must stop for world leaders. i will say. i tried to do as many as i could find. the one that we don't have, the one that i would be most interested to see, is the midnight visit of richard m nixon to the statue to commune with lincoln in the moments, the hours leading up to his decision to resign. as far as we know, even the white house photographer who was with him every second of every day, did not take that picture. but yes, i know the picture and
i know the others. any others? could you compare the visual iconography of this statue with the literary iconography of the gettysburg address? >> that is a heavy question. compare the visual iconography with the literary iconography. well, both considered masterpieces in their respective genres when built. bills have accumulated additional meaning over the years, gettysburg is not just a funeral oration, it is the re-, rededication of the american founding. to the new birth and all that that entails. the statue was built clearly of, by and for white people and it is now becoming an international and multiracial symbol of opportunity. and of course, we have the intertwining of the iconography,
because there were debates about whether anything should appear on the walls of the lincoln memorial. and as you know there are, everything is symbolic, from the number of pillars outside to the 36 states. that are listed and then more states on top, 38 states, and then 48 states and then they had a little hawaii and alaska around the back. but of course the words of the second inaugural and the words of the gettysburg address are etched in the walls of that memorial atrium. etched by one of daniel chester french is a student named evelyn beatrice longman. who did a lot of the wording on his statues and was one of his acolytes and admirers. so by the way i wish i could say french wanted just those two great addresses, he also wanted the bixby letter and the
springfield farewell address to be in the lincoln memorial. probably best with just those two. thank you. thank you. [ applause ] you are watching american history tv. all weekend, every weekend on cspan 3. to join the conversation, like us on facebook at cspan history. next, on the presidency. matthew costello reaches back to 1790s politics to explain george washington's vision for the capital city later named for him. washington's influence extended not only to the city's design but also to the building of the white house. and us capital. mr. castillo is the senior historian at the white house historical association. this 25 minute talk was part of a conference highlighting the work of william thorton, who is known at the as th