Lincoln Memorial and Social Activism Thesis

Pages: 8 (2525 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 7  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: American History

Lincoln Memorial and Social Activism

Mankind has created numerous impressive architectural structures which served as symbols and which people chose to use in order to express a certain state of mind. Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth American president, is remembered through history as one that succeeded in his fight against slavery. He campaigned so that all people would be equal, and that no man would ever enslave another. In addition to the fact that people admire him for his work, a memorial has been built in his honor in the American capital of Washington D.C.

Abraham Lincoln achieved what no other republican had ever achieved when he succeeded in becoming president over the United States. Matters had been bound to change all across the states, as most southerners did not look forward to the idea of serving a republican president. Moreover, the new president seemed to be committed to fight against slavery, which was one of the main methods used by the southerners to make money during the time. After several incidents which resulted in the breaking of several states from the Union, the American Civil War broke out.

The war lasted from the twelfth of April 1861 and until the ninth of April 1865, ending with the Union forces achieving victory over the Confederates. Lincoln did not have much time to celebrate his victory, as he was assassinated on the fifteenth of April by John Wilkes Booth, a Confederate spy.

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Ever since Lincoln's death, the American public felt that they should do something in order to pay tribute to the President that helped the most in abolishing slavery and in uniting the North and the South. No actual action had been taken until 1911 when two members of Congress, Shelby M, Cullom and Joseph G. Cannon issued a bill concerning the matter. President Taft accepted the bill and signed it on the first of February, 1911. At that precise time, the base has been laid to what was to be the Lincoln Memorial. The government allocated two million dollars to the building of the monument. Construction workers began their work at the memorial in 1914, but it was only in 1922 when the first visitors from the public had been allowed to enter the building.

Thesis on Lincoln Memorial and Social Activism Assignment

Daniel Chester French was assigned with sculpting the monument and it has been sculpted in four years by the Piccirilli brothers. Lincoln's sculpture is said to weigh 175 tons and the final cost for the monument had been three million dollars, as it exceeded the initial sum by far.

The building is immense, and it has two murals painted by Jules Guerin inside. Also, Lincoln's second inaugural speech is carved there, along with the Gettysburg Address. The builders have achieved much more than just building a national monument. They've managed to create a place where people could come and relate to problems regarding problems similar to that which Lincoln fought for.

The Abraham Lincoln Memorial stands as a symbol of democracy and freedom for all regardless of their ethnicity, gender, or skin color. The people that built the building are believed to have inspired their work from the Parthenon in Greece. Through the fact that it had been inspired from the ancient Greek architecture, one can consider that it had been constructed so that people would relate to the ancient Greeks that were the first of the modern people to put into practice a form of democracy. The Lincoln Memorial is not built only in Lincoln's memory, but it is also intended to be a Civil War Memorial, as it connects to the shocking conflicts that took place between the South and the North.

President Lincoln did not just managed to win a war, but, he had also managed to free thousands of people from slavery and to establish a country which was more unified than ever. The Memorial dedicated to Lincoln is considered to honor the U.S. As a country which has gone through numerous crisis situations in order to reach the level of unification that is has now.

As a remnant of the Civil War and of a man that succeeded in uniting two belligerent sides into one of the most powerful and open-minded nations in the world, the Lincoln Memorial has been used by many people that had wished to relate to such values. Some might regard such an act to be equivalent to a profanation of something that is meant to be a sacred resting place for a great man and for a great war. However, the truth is that the Lincoln Memorial has been mainly created for such activities, as its designers had wished it to inspire others into choosing the right path in life and to abstain from going to war against their own nations.

The Memorial was first considered to be a republican monument because it has been built with the help of republicans, in an era in which the Republican Party experienced a series of victories across the country. Moreover, the Memorial is believed to be built with the intention to express something different than the character of President Lincoln or that of the Civil War. The monument expresses perfection through its size and through the quality of the works inside. As Christopher a. Thomas claims, the Lincoln Memorial fails from presenting history as it is because it removes everything that might have seemed inadequate regarding to Lincoln's life or to his war.

The republicans mainly wanted the monuments found on the National Mall area to represent exactly what they wished for. However, they did not think about additional thoughts which might be raised in the hearts of those that saw the monuments. The Lincoln Memorial had been predicted to be more than what it seemed to be from the very few days which passed from the moment that it had its first official visitors.

The American public, and even the worldwide public, considered the National Mall area to be one filled with symbolism, and, one where people could gather and express their feelings regarding injustices that have been done. For decades, people used the National Mall as a place where they could organize convention where they would discuss civil rights-related problems contemporary to them.

Civil rights movements turned their attention to the Lincoln Memorial in the years following its construction. Because of the values that it was perceived to represent, Lincoln's Memorial was often associated with something that would help people in making their concepts public. The Lincoln Memorial is believed to be the most communicative building on the National Mall, as it surpasses the Washington Monument and the Washington Capitol when concerning their expressivity.

The Lincoln Memorial had been chosen by racial minority movements between the years of 1939 and 1963. "racial minorities wrested the memorial away from its official dedication to Lincoln as Savior of the Union and rededicated it to Lincoln as Emancipator." (Thomas, pp. xxv) People from racial minorities had transformed the methods used by white people to refer to their struggle to unite into a new movement that would concern racial minorities and the problems that they encounter in the U.S.

One of the first major civil rights campaigns took place at the Lincoln Memorial in 1939 on an Easter Sunday. It had been there that the famous African-American opera singer, Marian Anderson chose to perform in front of tens of thousands of people. Her choice came as a result of the fact that she had not been allowed to perform at the Constitution Hall because of her race. She had been turned down by the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), a group which had Eleanor Roosevelt within its ranks at the time. As a result of the decision which denied Marian Anderson the right to perform at the Constitutional Hall, Eleanor Roosevelt resigned from the DAR. Subsequent to her resignation, Eleanor Roosevelt struggled to get Marion Anderson the chance to perform at the Lincoln Memorial.

The African-American opera singer's performance at the Memorial dedicated to Lincoln and to the Civil War had been outstanding, as Anderson proved that her talent was comparable and even better than that of a white opera singer. Besides from enchanting the people present there with her voice, Anderson paved the path to a place where future civil rights supporters could come and hold speeches, changing the old concepts that people had concerning equality between all people.

The fact that Lincoln's Memorial is truly a Mecca-like place for civil rights promoters was proved when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. chose to hold a speech relating to the American Dream there. Dr. Martin Luther King believed that the site had been a perfect place for a civil rights meeting. He thrived in gathering nearly thirty thousand black leaders from all across the country at the Lincoln Memorial in 1957. During the respective meeting, he had been appointed leader of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Martin Luther King Jr. was not strange to the organizing of pro-African-American… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Lincoln Memorial and Social Activism" Thesis in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Lincoln Memorial and Social Activism.  (2009, April 17).  Retrieved June 5, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Lincoln Memorial and Social Activism."  17 April 2009.  Web.  5 June 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"Lincoln Memorial and Social Activism."  April 17, 2009.  Accessed June 5, 2020.