tv Lincoln Memorial Centennial CSPAN June 28, 2022 8:58am-10:01am EDT
holzer to discuss. what sets it apart? guest: one is just the beauty, the building and the magnificence of the marble statue, the largest marble monument portrait in the united states, then and now. what further has set it apart is the use of this space i am sitting on all the way to the steps as a platform for the discussion of grievances, for the aspirations for a more perfect union, for what reagan called unfinished -- what lincoln called unfinished work. it has evolved into the setting for demonstrations, gatherings,
meetings, concerts that all point to completing that unfinished business of his. host: describe where you are and for those who haven't been there, with the should know. guest: i am sitting about 50, 40 feet from the reflecting pool on the far end of the monument. and of course the memorial is behind me up 87 steps, i think i have that right. finished in 19 and they waited for it to settle on the soft ground before it settled -- for it to settle before they had the
dedication. 100 years ago, the african-american community of washington came out to the spot early to get good seats to see this tribute to a man they still regarded as the great emancipator. for the ceremony started, the park police rousted the african-americans out of their seats and moved them all back to right around where we are sitting, to the reflecting pool, a long way away from the mario in a roped off section and cheers without backs. memorial itself. in a roped off section, in benches without backs. what started as a tribute to the great emancipator ended as a reflection of segregated washington and a separate but unequal society that still existed in washington and the united states. >> a history of the lincoln
memorial and what it means today, that's what we're going to be talking about in this hour of the washington journal and on american history tv's c-span two. you can call, and you could join this conversation. phone lines played a bit differently, as we do not, if you live in the eastern central time zones it's -- if you live in the mountain or pacific time zones, -- and then a special line for those who visited the lincoln memorial. we want to know why you came and what you felt about what you saw when you came to the lincoln memorial. sorry (202) 748-8002. you can go ahead and start calling in now, as we're joined by harold holzer this morning, live from the steps of the lake memorial. take us back before that date, before that may 30th, 1922 date. how did this memorial come to be built? was there any pushback against building the memorial at that time to the great emancipator, abraham lincoln? >> the project was first
conceived in 1866, a year after lincoln was assassinated. when you would've thought there would've been a coalescence and a, as i wait for a plane to go across here, a unity of purpose. but it just didn't happen. 40 years went by before congress finally, in about 1905, appropriated the funds. to $5 million, to build a memorial to abraham lincoln. and then the debate started about where to put it. this site, in the swamps of west potomac park, was not the first choice. people talked about union station, the base of the capital, the naval observatory, meridian park up near the maryland border, the soldiers home where lincoln spent his summers. and finally, john hey, lincoln's former private
secretary, later secretary of state, suggested the spot. said it should be remote but not too remote. and the sculptor daniel chester french, who is head of the fine arts commission of washington, put the rubber stamp on this area. by the, way the speaker of the house, joe cannon said famously, i will never let a memorial to my hero be built on that blank blank spot in the swamp. he even threatened to take it to arlington if people insisted on here. so, here it was finally cited and then french picked his collaborator, henry bacon, who did the architecture for many of the sculptures, as the architect. there was no competition. but the design was so beautiful. and then, bacon had the sole right to pick the sculptor, so he picked the fellow who had picked him. if that sounds like insider
washington dealings, yeah, that's exactly what it was. i would say that it's a good thing that it worked out so magnificently. >> that statue of abraham lincoln, certainly the focal point once you get inside the lincoln memorial. but for folks who haven't been in, they're explained with el-sisi when you get in and why it was designed that way. >> well, you're right, john. it was principally designed as a cradle for this 19 foot high marble statue which, by the way, at one point was going to be a standing statue. but daniel chester french objected because he wanted people to be able to see the face of lincoln from down here at the reflecting pool, all the way up, just a constant confrontation with lincoln from different angles. one else is in are the inscribed words of the gettysburg address and lincoln's second inaugural address. incised by a man named earnest
bear stowe. also some ornaments by eleanor b. interest longman, a sculptor long associated with french. decorative murals by i'm a painter named ernest gagarin that no one looks at, sad to say, because they're way above eye level. finally, an epigraph, words, kind of a caption to the image, supplied by a new york art critic who had always praised daniel chester french. so, french, very wisely, said why don't you write the words that will be behind the statue. that his name was -- and it was he who wrote, in this temple, as in the hearts of the people for whom he saved the union, the memory of abraham lincoln's in trying forever. those are the only words inside the lincoln memorial that are not by abraham lincoln. >> if you're subscribe to the wall street journal in today's reviews section of the wall
street journal, a column by our guest, harold holzer. the headline, the changing meanings of an american shrine. whether the changing meanings of that shrine? >> on dedication, day 100 years ago, not just because the african american visitors were herded off to a segregated area but for other reasons, the speeches that were given by william howard taft, the former president, by warren harding, the president. they made it clear that the subject, that the meaning of the memorial on dedication, day was sectional reunification. the reunion between north and south. 36 states, named on the roof of the memorial, 36 classical columns circumventing the memorial structure to symbolize the 36 states that worry admitted to the union after lincoln's presidency and after the civil war.
there was one african american speaker, the principle of tuskegee institute, russell russell mountain, he had a pretty fiery speech ready. talking about how, if equality wasn't the goal of a country, then this memorial was a hypocrisy. former president taft told mountain, in no uncertain terms, we don't allow propaganda at the secret event. either cut or will cut you. so, moten given much more in a dense beach. from there you go to the easter sunday concert 17 years later, singing my country tons of the of the we saying, a statement about integration. she had been barred from constitution hall, right near the white house, because she was black. after that, of course, august 19th, 63, the march on washington. martin luther king says i am
standing in the symbolic shadow of this great statue that, 100 years, later the negro is still not free. from that moment, the meaning of the memorial changes completely, it becomes, as i said, a platform for protesting for aspirations for equality. i would say also that the image morphed into the replacement icon of the country, replacing uncle sam. it's always cartoons of the lincoln memorial weaving at the death of, kennedy fist bumping obama, falling over backwards when trump is elected, on and on. he's a representative of the republic. it is also, as television viewers now and washingtonians no, the staging grounds for the night before the inaugural celebration. where president-elect come for their last night before they become president, for either gigantic rallies with fireworks and music or simple
wreath-laying or, in the case of president biden last january, a very quiet tribute to the dead from covid. remember, there were poppy's all along this area in front of the reflecting pool, to represent those who had died from covid. >> we've seen, even behind you guys are giving that discussion, the various people who come to the memorial. not just visitors but graduates and graduation gowns. i'm especially interested this morning to hear from our callers as well about what the lincoln memorial means to you and your visit is there. we have that special phone line for those who visited the memorial, brian is on that line, calling from new york. i'm sorry, bob, in texas, is on that line. bob, good morning, go ahead. >> yes. thank you for taking my call. one of the very early images i
can remember when growing up is watching mr. smith goes to washington and jimmy stewart in just the, where he would look at it and he knew nothing about the tailor machine and all of bad things that were going on in washington. it was just that ideal. and so, when my son got old enough i and he was in middle school i wanted to take him and show him that this represents, if you look at it and you can make your own way, individualism, but we also have to acknowledge all the things that have not been right for all sections of our population. we can speak out about that and try to promote things that are good for all areas. david, small he wrote a book called the presidents, or so you want to be president.
he was a long time cartoonist for the new yorker, i can remember an image like you are talking about earlier with the poppies and biden. and remember the image of bill clinton walking up the steps after he had been impeached with his head down and they put that in the book. i thought, wow, it's like lincoln becomes the ideal that people work arc of off of. it is that one question. my question is, when i went in there and i saw the words under god on the left side when you walk in, either other places in the memorial that show a spiritual interest, as far as how our country began? >> thanks for the call. >> you packed so much into that terrific statement bob, thank you. i should've mentioned, and i'm glad that you did, the same year that marion anderson saying on these steps, the movie mr. smith goes to
washington opened throughout the united states. in fact, to prepare for tomorrow's anniversary rededication which is, for anybody still listening in the region, there will be a ceremony here on the steps recreating the ceremony to some degree. i'm going to be speaking, if that's an attraction, don't let it keep you away. but the current principle of tuskegee will be speaking. yes, mr. smith opens the same season as marion anderson, and that scene that you talk about, he hears a child reading the gettysburg address out loud from the wall. then, the film cuts to a black man with tears falling down his cheeks as he hears these words of promise of a under god. yes, god is mentioned in lincoln's other speech, this
nation under god should have a new birth of freedom. it's on the gettysburg address portion. by the, way lincoln added those words i gettysburg, they were not in his original text. but when he re-wrote it, he inserted the words he had spoken extemporaneously at gettysburg. the other mention of god is a little harsher. over in the second inaugural address, where that is written into panels on the wall, before lincoln gets to malice with charity toward all. there is a fiery paragraph saying that, after all these centuries of oppression, of slavery, if every drop of blood drawn with the lash has to be repaid by those drawn with the sword, then as was said 3000 years ago, so much to be said today. the judgments of the lord are true and righteous altogether. >> so, it was invoking god for
quality and rebirth on one side, and then for a kind of retribution against the universal sin of slavery on the other. >> as someone who's written more than 50 books on a rambling in the civil war, studied it for so long, do you think lincoln would've been happy, with the two documents picked to be on the wall, his gettysburg address and the second inaugural address? >> that is a really great question. i will say daniel chester french wanted to add lincoln's farewell address to springfield, illinois from 1861. and also, his condolence letter to the widow, lydia biggs b from 1864, neither of which made the final cut. i think, and i say this in the wall street journal, lincoln might have been equally interested in seeing the words of the emancipation inscribed on these walls. not because he wrote them as a
rhetorical masterpiece. in fact, the document was written in legal ease. the words were meant to be legally binding. and not necessarily soar as pros, rhetoric. but lincoln regarded the emancipation as he said, the central act of my administration. or a sign is name to it he said, if my name ever lives, it will be because of this act. but again, by 1920, with jim crow still in force, with the ceremony segregated, with an african american speaker censored, the emancipation proclamation was not the thing to celebrate. the white leaders who finally created the lincoln memorial emphasize the reunion of northern and southern states, and of course that meant, did not really take proper account of black rights, either those that have been there since the war, or died since reconstruction. >> at the steps of the lincoln
memorial, out to california, this is humvee, calling in. we mourn, you are on with carole holzer. >> good morning, thank you for taking my call. >> go ahead with your comment or question. >> well, actually, i outbid into the lincoln memorial several times. i live over here in california. it's always been a special occasion to note the history. i have been there more than once. -- >> all right, gary in reno, nevada is next. good morning! >> good morning, thank you for taking my call. i was curious, with so many things going wrong, it seems like nothing is getting fixed, have you guys heard of anybody invoking the 25th amendment? >> gary, we are talking about the lincoln memorial, the 100th anniversary right now. do you have a question about that? >> i'm sorry.
i was watching a tv show. no, i like the lincoln memorial. i hope people do not demonize it. but, yes. >> well, on that point, the caller hoping it does not get demonized. we are in an era in which there has been a rethinking of some history. has there ever been a rethinking of the lincoln memorial? >> happily, not yet. during some of the protests in the summer of 2020, proactive fencing was erected along this plaza. protests have been here as they have without decades without incident. but there was a photoshopped image of a vandalized, graffitied lincoln memorial statue that made on the web, and the kind of scared people for a few hours before it was
discovered that it was not genuine. but you know, a few miles from where we are, down past the capitol, there is a statue of lincoln, erected in 1876. a thomas wall statue, i think the official title is the emancipation group. lincoln, with his arm outstretched, and a kneeling or rising, half naked enslaved person, the beneficiary of the great, liberating moment of the proclamation. that statute has come under protest. people have unsuccessfully tried to bring it down during some of the protests in the summer. look, it is worth talking about all of these statues. in washington, in the south, in the west. i personally didn't believe lincoln should be subjected to that. i will quote, as i like to do, this c-span historians poll,
which is conducted every time a new president takes office. and that poll has once again gone to abraham lincoln as our greatest president. i think he deserves that mantle. as we said, presidents come here at the moment when they are reflecting the most. bill clinton, at the moment of impeachment, ronald reagan won is coming to the presidency. or franklin delano roosevelt, when he gets to washington, he can't walk up these steps, he never did. but every february 12th, his car came to these steps, and he managed to get, with help, out of his car and stand, leaning on his son on one side, and his military aid on the other, and take his hat off in the presence of feeling in memorial. >> so it appeals to leaders across the spectrum, that is the healthy thing. we have all learned something from the lincoln memorial to inspire us, to make us feel really full. >> the presidential historian
survey! thank you for bringing it up. it puts abraham lincoln as the top president, ranking number one. and not just in the latest survey which came out in 2021, but every time this survey has been done, back in 2017, 2009, abraham lincoln always comes in first in that survey, ahead of george washington, franklin roosevelt, dwight eisenhower, those are the top five in this survey. why do you think he is always number one? >> because he not only saved the union at his most precarious moment, he also articulated the vision of the american dream in his writing. and aside from that, he represented the american dream in his own rise from the impoverished, remote circumstances all of the way to the white house. he lived his dream, he articulated the gene and preserved it for everyone else.
this country could've easily been vulcanized, to use a later term. we might have easily been five countries. it might have not just been north and south, but north, south, east, west, south west, northwest. but how would we have fared against the nazis if we were not a united, strong country? the one lincoln left to us. >> grand rapids, michigan. this is brian, good morning. >> thanks a lot, i'm actually in minnesota, that's okay. mr. bowser, thank you for doing this show. i did not know that the lincoln memorial was built that way, and mr. smith goes to washington, one of my favorite movies, i was there, 27 years ago, by my brother clinton, who
is living in georgetown. he brought by folks there. 27 years ago they had a problem with pigeons doing their business. do you still have a problem with pigeons in their? >> well, this is not flippant. they do serious damage to statues. i have been in a couple of times since i have been down here. i must say, i have not seen any birds in their. it must have figured out, i think they were doing things with short ways, you know, vibrations which inhibit birds at one time. but whatever they are doing is working beautifully. the statue is even washed down with water the other day. the picture was in the washington post to get ready for the rededication on sunday. park service takes magnificent care of this structure.
i think that you are overdue for another visit, syria. you must come back. >> in talking about the changing meaning of the lincoln memorial over the years, he talked about one of the key moments being the march on washington back in august, 1963. i want to show a clip from the u.s. information agency film about the march on washington. it gives it this sense of the scene there at the lincoln memorial. this is about one minute and a half long. >> 150 members of the congress of the united states arrived at the rally to have their support, and the support of the people of the states they represent, through the spirit of the march in washington.
>> i want some of you to help me win a bet. i want everybody out here in the open to keep quiet. and i want to hear a yell, and thunder from all of those people who are out there, under the trees. let's hear you! yeah, yes. there is one of them, in the trees! the>> some of the images over there, mr. holzer, 200, 000, maybe 300,000 people according to some estimates who are there for the march on washington. what that moment meant for the civil rights movement, and why
the lincoln memorial was the focus of that event. could you go through that a little bit? >> i'm sorry, john. there was a bit of a distraction, could you repeat the question? >> just talk about the importance of that moment, of the march on washington, for the history of the monument. >> well, with apologies for that. it was transformative. and by the way, not an automatic gimme in terms of permit. i think president kennedy, who did not attend the rally, was generally ordering that this public space be made available to the public who wanted to use it on that day. we are talking about hundreds of thousands of people, stretching way back as that speaker said, into the trees. but once dr. king invoked the unfinished promise of the emancipation, frankly i think it was a watershed moment for
the civil rights movement, but also for the lincoln memorial. it now became the symbol of lincoln himself had called, in the words of a gettysburg address, incised on this wall, the unfinished work of equality. >> back to the phone lines, a special line for those who have visited the lincoln memorial in washington d.c., over there on the west end of the national mall. ocean view, hawaii. good morning. >> good morning, sir. thank you for taking my call. it has been, well, i was just joining the merchant marine in the united states, i've gone from washington state back to washington, d.c. to go to college. i remember one night, close to midnight, going to the memorial over there. and i was just in our, stood there and thought about all of the things he had accomplished. what a great president he was. he absolutely does deserve to be number one. a great person.
lucky to be there, lucky to be there. that is what i want to say. >> it is a beautiful sentiment. and you raise a point that is worth sharing. although daniel chester french did not know him when he installed this statue over here in 1990, three years with the dedication, the statue, memorial is open, day and night. it is beautifully lit with the highest grade electric writing -- lighting, which he thought of. he noticed the skyline had been lacquered over, and the front doors would be opened all the time. so it quickly did some remedial work to make sure that it showed, two wonderful advantage at night. and, for those who have only come during the day, i would urge them to try to freeze it at night. it is a totally different, almost mystical experience, to see lincoln, in the light, the shrouded light against that
white background, in the darkness of washington. quite, quite beautiful. >> by the, way if daniel chester french is someone you are intrigued by, a good book on that subject is monument man: the life and art of daniel chester front, by author holzer. washington d.c. up next, good morning. >> okay, two points. my wife who died a while ago, used to work for the department of the interior. i don't know if they still give tours into the monument, the underground, the recess is there a typically would not be apparent. and then the other point, just last week, i was listening to some testimony by deb haaland about all of the atrocities which had happened to the indigenous people over here. and, it should be noted and recognized that, it was under lincoln and i think the largest mass execution of some lakota
people were done. so you know, we just have to be able to tell all of the history. i agree. i'd love to talk about both of those things. first, i think the caller is referring to what people call the under croft of the lincoln memorial. the memorial itself is 99 feet high, the under girding, the basement, call it the under croft, is 67 feet deep, i believe. the reason it's so deep is because this huge building, i don't know the weight of it but i know the weight of the statue is 240 tons, that's pretty heavy. and a very steep basement was dug, all sorts of arch work, brilliantly engineered. it still rests on this kind of must be clay surface, like an unfinished basement.
there is graffiti on the walls from the workers who labored there in the 19 teens and the great news is that private funding has been allocated to open it. because tours are not given any more. but it will be reopened in a few years as a visitor center. and a bookstore, a place to see the graffiti that the workers left. so, it should be a tourist attraction in itself. the best news of all about, it aside from the engineering miracle that it represents, is that it's always about 70 degrees in there. it's like a cave in missouri, it's 70 degrees in the winter and it's 70 degrees in the summer. i can tell you, from this plaza, that it is not 70 degrees in washington today, it's somewhat warmer. but a word about the dakota. in 1862, there was an uprising in minnesota. the usual land squabbles,
native peoples had been moved off their land, they came back, allegedly violating a treaty. anyway, there were huge pitched battles and, ultimately, almost 300 native people were arrested and condemned to death. the governor of minnesota told president lincoln that it was necessary because of the approaching off-year election, that the execution go forward. lincoln said, i am not going to hang people for votes. i want to see every case, i want to review every single case. yes, ultimately, and this is kind of a tragic glass half empty story, 38 condemned men were executed. they had, according to the trial records, committed murder or rape or infanticide or other
atrocities. but lincoln pardoned more than 250 condemned people. whether you consider him a great partner or a max executioner, of course, is open to discussion. and i absolutely agree with you that every part of that story needs to be told. >> you focused a bit on the lincoln memorial as a focal point of the civil rights movement. what about it being a focal point of protests against the vietnam war? >> i think one of the reasons that the vietnam mario was cited near here is that, indeed, it was a focal point for the anti-war movement as well. and the gay rights movement, and the women's rights movement. again, movements for change have coalesced around this. i think lincoln's reputation as a change agent, a phrase he would not have recognized, as an advocate for making a more perfect union, it was herbs as a magnet for groups that feel they are underrepresented,
underserved or in equitably treated. probably the most notable time of the anti war protests came one night in, i believe, 1969. when richard nixon paid an unannounced visit to the lincoln memorial at night, to meet with or at least dialogue with some of the protesters who were camping out inside the atrium, up at the top of the steps. it wasn't televised, it was unannounced, but we do have some wonderful archival photographs of nixon looking very uncomfortable and the protesters looking very befuddled to see the president that they disliked so much among them. it may have been a good moment though, a moment where people aired their differences in front of a man, a statue of a man, who has certainly been buffeted by criticism in his day as well. >> eureka, montana, this is
dan. good morning. >> good morning. i always said the march on washington, because a years old, my parents took me and my little sister. i just remember it as a very peaceful and adventure someday, lots of people of all different kinds. i remember peter, paul and mary and of course the martin luther king speech. just that everybody got along real well and all i remember, we were kind of camped out over underneath the closest tree to the steps maybe. i was only eight and my parents let me, oh, okay, it was hot and i wanted to get my feet in the reflecting pool. okay, we'll be here, come back
when you're done. i went swimming for an hour and got cool, came back and it was a wonderful time, had a great time and i'm glad i went to it. just kind of a funny thing, my little sister was chattering a little bit when martin luther king was speaking. i remember dad saying, you might want to watch this because some days going to be in your history books. anyway. >> that's a wonderful memory. >> wonderful. time >> wonderful memory. >> yeah. >> dan, thanks for those memories. mr. holzer? >> it was an extraordinary day. i remember watching it on television, not quite the same. but you knew, when dr. king started to speak, that history was being made. not only american history but rhetorical history. and inside, it was the first national speech by a very young
man who had helped organize the day. if you go back and watch the entire event on youtube, you will see young, handsome john lewis introducing the proceedings. in that unmistakable georgia pathway that he had, it's just fabulous. the same voice, the same, rich baritone voice that he had. >> to tim out of minnesota, good morning, your next. >> hi, john and chris. when i'm thinking about all this, it reminds me of three really good books i read. black like me, uncle tom's cabin and all gods children. that was by fox butterfield, you've had him on the show. if you want to read something about oppression and the
lasting effects of oppression, those are some of the greatest books i've ever read. black like me is a true story a better guy, i think in the 50s, i forget his name but he offers himself to look african american. got away with it and it went down differently. i think about it all because, you know how people say, you know, slavery was, you know, here and gone, blah blah blah. i just don't believe that the lasting effect of oppression disappear that easily. especially when there's so much an egg knowledge meant of what happened. >> mr. holzer, take us back to
1922 and some of those issues and how the nation was dealing with it at the dedication of the monument behind you. >> well, i would say, principally, the nation was not dealing with it. the wilson administration, which had preceded warren harding's administration, had a openly and unapologetically really segregated the federal bureaucracy. advances that were made and opening up federal jobs and agencies to employment and the right to rise in those jobs by african americans was just thwarted and reversed by woodrow wilson. something some people don't often remember about his administration. warren harding was actually better on civil rights but, again, if you don't allow your only black orator of the day to say what's in his heart and on his mind about lincoln's
unfinished work, about the need to live up to his aspirations for equal justice, then you're still operating in an area of hypocrisy as moten new in his gut. so, the nation was not yet ready to make strides, the jim crow era was still upon us. confederate monuments were still rising in the former confederacy. i think, looking back and in my own work on this memorial, i focused on the art, i focused on daniel chester french. because, as john said, i wrote a biography of french. but i think the memorial itself focused on an incomplete american story. yes, sectional reunion was crucial to making america strong in the post world war i era, leading up to the world war ii era. but making it strong for whom was a serious question that would remain unanswered until
dr. king raised it, forcefully, again. standing under that statue, saying the negro is still not free. 100 years after the promise was made. it was exactly 100 years after the emancipation. so, it's kind of a mixed emotion for me to think about 1922. they missed the lead, as we say in the journalism business. but they still created a magnificent work of art and a magnificent building for which we can still be grateful. >> one more historical note on that day, may the 30th, 1922. abraham lincoln's son attended the dedication ceremony. >> he did. he was one of those bearded old white men who is up there on the top of the top step, edward markham, the poet, robert lincoln and uncle joe cannon, the former speaker of the house who didn't want the building built there. they were all up there.
we all regret, lincoln students regret, that robert had nothing to say that they. he was 79 years old, wasn't well and he had his personal physician with him. so, i think he was worried about the effect of the day on his health. but he was there. that meant a lot, i think, in terms of the continuity of the lincoln family as such as it was. it would not last very long. >> peña is next, calling in from montana as well. cascade, montana. good morning. >> good morning, thank you for taking my call. i was fortunate enough to visit the lincoln memorial probably about ten years ago. the only other place in washington that affected me as deeply as the lincoln memorial did was arlington cemetery. they are both, for me, very
reverent. i was very just moved, so deeply, by the lincoln memorial. part of the reason was because i grew up in rural montana, i went to a country school where there were eight students. i remember very clearly, on the wall in our school, was a picture of president washington and a picture of president lincoln. we studied both of those presidents very deeply in our country school. i don't want to take anything away from the emancipation proclamation, the whole slavery issue, that was a pivotal point in american history. but one thing that affected my family deeply was the homestead act, which was also lincoln's stroke of a pen. because of that, my family now lives instead of ohio and missouri, we live in montana.
so, for me, it's very personal. i was just in thrall'd with those statues. he's huge, he's very real and i've never felt but so enthralled with the president in my life, so i just wanted to say that. >> tina, thanks for the. call mr. holzer? >> that was very moving. very on point. we all want presidents to be able to focus on all areas of policy at once. and while abraham lincoln was consumed with the civil war for every single day of his presidency after april, 1861, it is true that they had a domestic agenda other than the military. he signed the homestead act, as we mentioned, it gave land to people who are willing to brave uncharted territory, as his own
parents had by moving westward, to kentucky, and then indiana, and then eastern illinois. he signed the continental railroad act, linking both continents. he signed the land grant college act which gave so many higher learning opportunities for black and white americans. so it is not often talked about, but i'm glad you raised it. the homestead act, and the other legislative interventions i mentioned were crucial to having a better country to report -- returned once peace efforts have been restored. >> we talk about it being a focal point for change and movement. so, another one was on august, 2010, a radio tv personality, glen beck, the restoring honor rally at the lincoln memorial. here is 40 seconds to show you a seam from that day. >> he brings you the truth
every day. now he brings you an effort to restore honor in america. ladies and gentlemen, the glenn back. >> hello, america! we [applause] >> i have just gotten word from the media, that there is over 1000 people here today. >> and going back there, poking fun of the media a little bit, the official estimates from that they were around 100,000 or more people showing up at the lincoln memorial.
harold holzer, on that event, and these more recent events at the lincoln memorial. >> well, i guess part of me is still happy that he will find their inner lincoln, that they can rally around whatever part of lincoln inspires an appeal to them. i know that glen beck admires lincoln. he infamously borrowed the gettysburg address from the presidential library museum in springfield a few years ago, for a pop up museum. kind of got the museum into a heap of trouble. but behind that was an earnestness, a respect for lincoln. not my particular cup of tea. but i would not deny anyone the opportunity to rally here and to find in this statue, in this building, what makes america scene unique, appealing and
irreplaceable. >> just ten minutes left harold holzer this morning. he is the lincoln forum cheer joining me on a morning, in the west end of the national mall, right there on the steps of the lincoln memorial. for folks who do not know, what is the lincoln memorial? >> i'm glad you asked. the lincoln forum is a national organization which meets every november 16th to 18th in gettysburg, pennsylvania. you can find information about next november's forum on the lincoln forum dot org, which is our website. or getting in touch with me on my website, harold holzer at herald holzer.com. we have great speakers, panels, battlefield tours, dinners, lunches, breakfasts which are important. a great hotel we all meet at. and the ambiance of gettysburg to celebrate, and so in. we have been doing it for 27
consecutive year. one year, on zoom only during the lockdown. often reported -- recorded and broadcast by c-span. we are listening, getting in touch, thinking about our speakers, headed to gettysburg in november. >> and mr. holzer, i do not know if you had a chance before you showed up to this interview to go up into the memorial itself, but the park service put out a tweet this morning about having to close the memorial this morning, or at least the inside of the memorial. due to a local university graduation celebration, that left litter, broken bottles, and champagne covering the steps. saying we are trying to clean up and reopen as soon as it is possible. did you happen to see any of that this morning? >> we are set up in the midst of some broken whiskey bottles another country to switch as miraculously, and pretty
quietly been cleaned up while we broadcast from here. but when we got here, the crew, producer and i looked around and said, how did this happen? not because it was in our way, these guys can, you know, set up anywhere. but it was sort of embarrassing that it was left this way. but they have done a good job. i have to say, i did get to see the memorial yesterday, for the first time in a few years, i have not been down to d.c. since covid began. but yesterday, i met with students from purdue university who are affiliated with the c-span center for communications at purdue, in a tour led by none other than brian lamb, he will be angry for me mentioning his name. >> probably. >> probably, but whatever. >> we had a great tour that he let me lead with his terrific students. i hope some of them are watching. i learned a lot from them.
so we had a good look around three quarters of the building. and then, a news stand, ryan's and come over here, that is the vice president's motorcade crossing the memorial bridge. so we got to see a pretty exciting sight, just on the portico of the memoriam. i had a great visit. i will go up again today, tomorrow, i will be back at 10 am for the rededication ceremony. people might wonder why we are not doing it on memorial day. the park service does not allow public events on memorial day, for fear that it is disrespectful to veterans. this is peculiar, because the lincoln memorial was dedicated on memorial day. but so be it. we are happy to be here on may 22nd, and we will be here tomorrow morning. >> hopefully, it will be cooler tomorrow morning as well. time for a couple more phone calls for you. this is steve in black sprig, virginia. on the line for those who have
visited him overall. good morning. >> yes, i had the privilege of visiting the memorial when i was about five years old, i am now 63. my father took our family down. we basically went all around the mall, do you see the lincoln memorial. it is pretty impressive. >> what impressed you the most as a five-year-old, steven? >> well, the statue of lincoln himself. >> and howard holzer, on that statue itself, you talked about how that statue, renderings of that stat you have taken the place of uncle sam in some places in this country. i was going to show viewers one of those card tubes, the abraham lincoln with his hands covering his face. explain that a little bit.
>> that is bill walgreens cartoon of the memorial, weeping at news of president kennedy's death. that really started the idea of using a malleable version of the memorial to express the natural -- national mood. you know, lincoln had been portrayed on this mall as a car dune, as satan, during the civil war. here he is, returning as a national symbol. fist bumping barack obama. taking iphone pictures with biden, those kind of things. i worry i did not say enough about daniel chester french. he started this statue process with a 12 inch high model in clay. just out of the depths of his imagination. and he made very few changes as it expanded from a one foot model to a three foot model, two a seven foot enlargement,
and ultimately, carved by italian immigrants in the bronx, named the pitcher really brothers. the statue was created in new york city, in chester would, his beautiful studio in the brokers, which is open to the public, it opened this year early because of the centennial. a wonderful place to visit. you can see is, tools models, the norman rockwell museum nearby has a special exhibit on the lincoln memorial. but it did come out of one artist, one remarkable inspiration, that has french's hands, a combination of french's hands, lincoln's hands, the hands that we see gripping the chair, up at the top there. and you know, it is a remarkable work of art. still, the grandest marble statue in the united states. and worth visiting for those who love american art, and
those who love american history. >> we will try to a couple more phone calls. michael out of las vegas, good morning. >> good morning, gentlemen. mr. holzer i have been enjoying everything you have been saying. i was a resident of virginia, a military brat. and i to visited the memorial, first when i was nine years old. i enjoyed all of the reminiscent's. you know there is an overall idea over there, whether it is for young people or older people. there is something about visiting the memorial in the night time. you have the hubbub of the day and the traffic, it is nice to come and see. but when the commotion of the city quiets down, and now things are peaceful, there is that circle drive around the memorial, the planners and designers really created
something transcendent. you try to place it apart, you try to take those steps, and your group grows more and more quiet as you reach the top step. and there is the city, dark, with the highlights of the national mall. you turn, you go in and my goodness. somehow, some way by accident or design, it all came together for that structure. and i don't care what your persuasion, your creed is, there is a reference there. it truly is a temple. the trash, i was listening, i heard about that trash. you know, it even transcends that trash, and in my view, you will always have pigs. but doesn't that also say something, in a way? i don't know if i am making it clear. but wow, you talk about a place that is for all people.
i am so happy to have the centennial celebration, i cannot believe that. 1922? it's already been 100 years. >> thank you for that call. mr. holzer, i will give you the final minute here. >> well, stay tuned, if you can't get your for the actual event, c-span will be recording it. i'm sure it will be on american history tv at some point. technically, i agree with you about this, it's a lot quieter, cleaner now, i can be less aggrieved about the bottles and glass. but yes it is for everybody. and if people are celebrating their liberation from lockdown by having an outdoor graduation ceremony, having fun, maybe some misbehave -- but everybody or it would have been far worse. and they are doing so in the majestic shadow of this statue, that martin luther king junior described so beautifully, i think it is wonderful. i hope they got a chance to read the words, because we can
celebrate, everything great about america, which we do. but still, there are those two words inscribed in the gettysburg address next to the statue. unfinished work. i made it sound like three words, but it is to. we have more to do, miles to go. and doing it in the glow of this statue is perhaps the best way, it most inspiring way. >> harold holzer, lincoln forum chair, author of the book, may books, but in particular, monument man: the life and art of daniel chester french. thank you so much for joining us on such a warm morning, there at the lincoln memorial. >> thank you, john.