Happy 274th Birthday to the man, the myth, the legend, Mr. THOMAS JEFFERSON! In honor of TJ’s 2-7-4 we’re sharing three of our favorite facts about his memorial. The Jefferson Memorial is one of the highlights of our Monuments and Monuments at Nite tour…and the view from its steps is one of our favorite spots in all of Washington. Check out these fun facts below…and be sure to book your tour to find out even more about the Jefferson Memorial!
1.) FDR was a great admirer of Jefferson and felt a memorial honoring him was long overdue.
FDR visited Washington, DC in 1913, and he began to push for a memorial dedicated to Jefferson. He effectively persuaded Congress to approve the construction. When you’re standing at the steps of the memorial, you can look behind you at the clear line of site intentionally created between the Memorial and the White House. It allowed FDR a “back-porch” view to admire the Memorial he had such a hand in creating. As the memorial was being completed in 1943, WWII was still raging on and metals were being rationed by the government for wartime production of tanks, ships, bullets, etc. In keeping with the prevailing spirit of solidarity, the memorial planners decided to forego the use of bronze for the statue, choosing instead to have it composed of…plaster, painted to look bronze. In 1947, the current statue–made of bronze–was set in place. (Photo © The Smithsonian)
2.) Controversy arose before groundbreaking at the memorial.
A small forest of Japanese cherry trees stood on the designated site, and many Washingtonians were angered that they would have to be cut down to make way for the Memorial. As the stor
y goes, one very dedicated group of women chained themselves to the trees to prevent them from being removed. Legend has it that construction workers kept offering tea to the women which, eventually, required a trip to the bathroom—at which point the workers moved in on the trees.
3.) Jefferson, the Renaissance Man, is considered by many the brightest and most talented of American Presidents.
He was an architect, archaeologist, horticulturalist, inventor (the dumbwaiter), lawyer, philosopher, a superb writer, and even a semi-professional violinist. He was similarly adept and prolific as a statesman, serving as liaison to France, governor of Virginia, first Secretary of State under President Washington, second Vice President under Adams, and third U.S. President (credited with the Louisiana Purchase—largest land deal in world history at
that time). Upon composing his epitaph, Jefferson said he wanted to be remembered in death for his proudest gifts to the nation rather than by the positions he was appointed to by the people. Thus his gravestone at Monticello reads: Author, Declaration of Religious Freedoms for Virginia; Author, Declaration of American Independence; and Father of the University of Virginia.
To learn more about the Jefferson Memorial
(and all the other awesome monuments and memorials in DC), RESERVE A TOUR WITH US TODAY!