The Evolution of the Lincoln Memorial

By David J. Kent

Washington, D,C.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022



The recent Lincolnian newsletter featured many stories about the Lincoln Memorial, whose 100th anniversary the Lincoln Group is celebrating with a series of events this month. One of those stories was by Lincoln Group Board member Rod Ross, who provided his thoughts on "A Marble House Divided," an article written many years ago by historian Scott Sandage. Scott serves on the Abraham Lincoln Institute board with Rod and I, and he was featured in a program this past weekend on CBS Sunday Morning.


CBS correspondent Faith Salie interviewed Sandage as part of her excellent piece on the Lincoln Memorial. She also interviewed Mike Litterst of the National Park Service and Salamisha Tillet of Rutgers University. They discussed the original meaning of the Memorial - Unity - and its evolution into a symbol of civil rights, a topic that Edna Greene Medford will discuss in our May 22nd program.


Did you know why there are 87 steps leading up to the Lincoln Memorial? Hint - a score is 20, four score is 80, and Lincoln begins the Gettysburg Address with "Four score and seven years ago today..."


Did you know there is a plaque on the steps denoting where Martin Luther King stood in 1963, one hundred years after Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation.


Did you know that Marian Anderson tweaked the words to "My Country Tis of Thee" when she sang the song on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1939? The words as written were "Of Thee I Sing." Anderson intentionally sang "To Thee We Sing" to highlight the continuing discrimination of African Americans.


But much of the segment relies on Scott Sandage to examine the ideas that he had presented all those years before in "A Marble House Divided." After watching the video, jump back to the Lincolnian newsletter piece written by Rod Ross to get his take on this important paper.


And don't forget to join us on May 22nd on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial for our own centennial celebration organized by the Lincoln Group of DC and National Park Service and co-sponsored by the Lincoln Forum. And check out all the other events we have going on this month to commemorate the Memorial's 100th anniversary. [Click on the "Events" tab to see it all]


You can watch the video below.





[Photo by Bruce Guthrie. Video by CBS Sunday Morning.]