Jefferson Memorial

Jefferson Memorial
Virginia Union University
Image by dbking
Jefferson Memorial

•Third President of the United States (1801-1908)
•Second Vice President, serving with John Adams, although they were from different political parties (1797-1801)
•First Secretary of State
•Prolific writer
•Primary author of the Declaration of Independence
•Delegate to the Continental Congress
•Governor of Virginia (1779-1781)
•Founder of the University of Virginia (in Charlottesville)
•Experimental planter who started the wine industry in Virginia
•Architect who submitted designs anonymously for both the Capitol and the White House
•Inventor who invented wire coat hangers, swivel chairs and sliding doors

•Cornerstone laid in 1939

•Dedicated by Franklin Delano Roosevelt on April 13, 1943 — the 200th anniversary of Jefferson’s birth

•Original architect, John Russell Pope, envisioned a memorial twice this size; his partners scaled it down after taking over the project on Pope’s death

•Classical design, modelled after Jefferson’s design of the Rotunda of the University of Virginia, which Jefferson based on the Pantheon in Rome

•The 26 Ionic columns symbolize the 26 states in the Union at the end of Jefferson’s terms as president . The addition of the territory provided in the Louisiana Purchase gave rise to the 13 additional states.

•The carving on the tympanum (triangular section of the pediment over the entrance to the memorial) was designed by Adolph Alexander Weinman; it represents the five-man committee assigned by the Continental Congress to draft the Declaration of Independence; the figures from left to right are:
Benjamin Franklin
John Adams
Thomas Jefferson (standing)
Roger Sherman
Robert Livingston

•FDR asked that the memorial be placed so he could see it from the White House and gain inspiration; if you stand with your back to Jefferson, you can see the White House across the Tidal Basin through the trees

The Statue
•Designed by Rudolph Evans

•19 feet tall, made of bronze

•Jefferson is posed as if he were addressing the Continental Congress

•In his left hand he holds a copy of the Declaration of Independence

•He is wearing a coat given to him by Tadeusz Kosciuszko, Polish patriot who fought in the Revolutionary War

•The bronze statue was not installed when the Memorial was dedicated; a war-time limit on civilian use of bronze prohibited its casting; a full-size plaster statue was placed here which the bronze statue replaced in 1948

The Carved Texts
•The texts carved on the interior walls of the memorial are excerpts from various writings of Jefferson

•Behind the statue and to the right is an excerpt from the Declaration of Independence

•Immediately to your right as you enter the rotunda is an excerpt from the Act for Religious Freedom written by Jefferson and passed by the Virginia legislature — Jefferson considered this act to be one of his three most important accomplishments

•Immediately to your left as you enter the rotunda are six quotations from Jefferson’s letters and notes on slavery and education

•Behind the statue and to the left are quotations on government taken from a letter written to Samuel Kercheval in 1816

•The quotation encircling the base of the dome was taken from a letter written to Benjamin Rush in 1800


The Jefferson Memorial is a monument in Washington, DC to Thomas Jefferson. It combines a low neo-classical saucer dome with a portico.
By 1930, there were monuments in Washington commemorating great United States presidents such as Abraham Lincoln and George Washington. President Franklin Roosevelt thought that Thomas Jefferson also deserved a monument.
In 1934, following his initiative, Congress passed a resolution to create a monument commemorating Jefferson. The memorial was designed by John Russell Pope (1874 – 1937), the architect of the original (west) building of the National Gallery of Art. It reflects characteristics of buildings designed by Jefferson such as Monticello and the Rotunda, which were a result of his fascination with Roman architecture. It bears a close resemblance to the Pantheon of Rome. The cornerstone was laid in 1939 and the monument cost slightly more than million. It was officially dedicated in 1943, after Pope’s death. One of the last American public monuments in the Beaux-Arts tradition, it was severely criticized even as it was being built, by those who adhered to the modernist argument that dressing 20th-century buildings like Greek and Roman temples constituted a "tired architectural lie." More than 60 years ago, Pope responded with silence to critics who dismissed him as part of an enervated architectural elite practicing "styles that are safely dead".

The Thomas Jefferson Memorial, modeled after the Pantheon of Rome, is America’s foremost memorial to our third president. As an original adaptation of Neoclassical architecture, it is a key landmark in the monumental core of Washington, DC The circular, colonnaded structure in the classic style was introduced to this country by Thomas Jefferson. Architect John Russell Pope used Jefferson’s own architectural tastes in the design of the Memorial. His intention was to synthesize Jefferson’s contribution as a statesman, architect, President, drafter of the Declaration of Independence, adviser of the Constitution and founder of the University of Virginia. Architects Daniel P. Higgins and Otto R. Eggers took over construction upon the untimely death of Pope in August 1937. The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Commission was created to direct the erection of a memorial to Thomas Jefferson by an Act of Congress approved in June 1934. The present-day location at the Tidal Basin was selected in 1937. The site caused considerable public criticism because it resulted in the removal of Japanese flowering cherry trees from the Tidal Basin. Further controversy surrounded the selection of the design of the Memorial. The Commission of Fine Arts objected to the pantheon design because it would compete with the Lincoln Memorial. The Thomas Jefferson Commission took the design controversy to President Franklin D. Roosevelt who preferred the pantheon design and gave his permission to proceed. On November 15, 1939, a ceremony was held in which President Roosevelt laid the cornerstone of the Memorial.
In 1941, Rudolph Evans was commissioned to sculpt the statue of Thomas Jefferson. The statue of Jefferson looks out from the interior of the Memorial toward the White House. It was intended to represent the Age of Enlightenment and Jefferson as a philosopher and statesman. The bronze statue is 19 feet tall and weighs five tons. Adolph A. Weinman’s sculpture of the five members of the Declaration of Independence drafting committee submitting their report to Congress is featured on the triangular pediment. Also noteworthy, and adorning the interior of the Memorial, are five quotations taken from Jefferson’s writings that illustrate the principles to which he dedicated his life.

Few major changes have been made to the Memorial since its dedication in 1943. The most important change to note is the replacement of the plaster model statue of Thomas Jefferson by the bronze statue after the World War II restrictions on the use of metals were lifted. Each year the Jefferson Memorial plays host to various ceremonies, including annual Memorial exercises, Easter Sunrise Services and the ever-popular Cherry Blossom Festival. The Jefferson Memorial is administered and maintained by the National Park Service.

•Ground breaking: December 15, 1938.
•Architect: John Russell Pope.
•Cornerstone laid: November 15, 1939.
•Sculpture of Jefferson statue: Rudolph Evans.
•Sculpture of relief above entrance: A.A. Wineman.
•Total cost: ,192,312.
•Size of grounds: 2.5 acres (1.0117 hectare, 10117.1 square meters).
•Estimated Weight: 32,000 tons.
•Height from road to top of dome: 129 feet, 4 inches (39.42 meters).
•Height from floor to ceiling of dome: 91 feet, 8 inches (27.94 meters).
•Height from floor to top of dome – exterior: 95 feet, 8 inches (29.16 meters).
•Thickness of dome: 4 feet (1.22 meters).
•Weight of memorial: 32,000 tons (29029.9 metric tons).
•Piers to bedrock (maximum depth): 138 feet, 3 inches (42.14 meters).
•Ceiling: Indiana limestone.
•Exterior walls and columns: Danby Imperial Marble (Vermont).
•Interior floor: Tennessee pink marble.
•Interior wall panels: Georgian white marble.
•Pedestal: Missouri gray marble.

•Statue Height: 19 feet (5.79 meters).
•Height of pedestal: 6 feet (1.83 meters).
•Material: Bronze.
•Statue Weight: 10,000 pounds (4535.92 kilograms).

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