A shining beacon on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., the Thomas Jefferson Memorial stands in a straight line with the White House and honors one of America’s founding fathers.
Not only is Jefferson the 3rd President of the United States, but he was a revolutionary leader, legendary scholar, and renaissance man who was the primary author of the Declaration of Independence. He was also the first Secretary of State. Well-known for his eloquent writing and his inventive spirit, his love of country is what ultimately drove him to greatness.
The memorial in his name was created in neo-classical style as a 19-foot bronze sculpture, with excerpts from the Declaration of Independence. Among his many accolades and pursuits are scientist, horticulturist, inventor, political philosopher, diplomat, musician, architect, and book collector. Jefferson left to future generations not only novel ideas, but a great range of practical achievements.
The building surrounding his statue is a circular, open-air structure topped by a shallow dome and supported by 26 ionic columns. Constructed of white Imperial Danby marble from Vermont, it sits on granite and marble-stepped terraces. Visitors climb a flight of marble stairs flanked by granite buttresses that lead up from the Tidal Basin of the National Mall. Inside, the floor is made of pink Tennessee marble. The interior frieze features a massive Indiana limestone dome.
The statue of Jefferson was constructed by Rudulph Evans and stands on a black Minnesota granite pedestal, inscribed with the dates of his birth and death (1743-1826). It captures Jefferson as he looked in mid-life, holding the powerful Declaration of Independence in his left hand. Along with the statue, the interior features five quotations from Jefferson’s writings which are carved into the chamber walls.
A Bit of Founding Father Memorial History
Built by architect John Russell Pope and dedicated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on April 13, 1943, this memorial to Thomas Jefferson is visited by millions every year. Pope was heavily influenced by Jefferson’s penchant for classical architecture, and the pantheon-style memorial gives a proud nod to two buildings made famous by Jefferson – the University of Virginia Rotunda, and Monticello. Architects Daniel P. Higgins and Otto R. Eggers took over construction after the untimely death of Pope in 1937.
The memorial is situated on the south side of the Tidal Basin on reclaimed land that was created during the construction of Hains Point. Japanese cherry trees were planted on the site in 1912 when Tokyo’s mayor gifted 3,000 trees. Today, many visitors flock to the site in Spring when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom.
Jefferson’s strong beliefs in the rights of man and a government formed from the people made him a driving force in the governmental policies first set forth and continuing to this day. The freedom of religion, of separation of church and state, and education to all are the main principles he urged all throughout his political life.
Through it all, Jefferson’s own appraisal of his life is one of stark simplicity and is written on his tombstone. “Author of the Declaration of Independence, of the Statute of Virginia for religious freedom, and Father of the University of Virginia.”
Meet Rob Decker, Creator of National Park Posters
Photographer and graphic artist Rob Decker studied photography with Ansel Adams in Yosemite National Park during the summer of 1979 when he was just 19. It was an experience solidified his love of photography and our National Parks. Now he is on a journey to photograph and create iconic WPA-style posters of all our major national parks as we celebrate the next 100 years of the National Park Service.
"I feel it’s important to protect America’s special places, and to connect people with nature. And it’s up to all of us to pitch in. Perhaps more importantly, we need to inspire the next generation of park stewards. I’m trying to make a difference by giving back to the amazing organizations that support our National Parks. I donate 10% of annual profits, so when you buy one of these original works, you're helping these trusts, conservancies and associations, too."
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