Congressman Lincoln Attends Ceremony for the Washington Monument

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July 4,1848, U.S. Congressman #AbrahamLincoln attended the cornerstone-laying ceremony for the Washington Monument. It was a festive gathering, with an estimated 20,000 people participating at the ceremony and along the parade route. President James Polk laid the cornerstone with other dignitaries in the audience including Revolutionary-era icons Dolley Madison and Eliza Hamilton, ages 81 and 91 respectively, who were both involved in fundraising efforts for the monument to honor President #GeorgeWashington.
Construction on the Washington Monument stopped at the beginning of the Civil War as the nation’s priorities shifted. Described by Mark Twain as a “hollow, over-sized chimney”, the structure stood as a 180-foot stump for 15 years. Then the nation was moved by embarrassment to complete this memorial to its Founding Father, and construction resumed again in 1876 under the direction of President Ulysses S. Grant.
During the Civil War, the area around the Monument was used as a military encampment for Union soldiers. Food for the soldiers, in the form of various livestock, grazed on the open grounds. The soldiers were in and out of the unfinished structure and left their marks by creating “historic graffiti”, inscriptions that you can still see inside the building today.
What would Congressman Lincoln have thought on that special day in 1848, had he known that 67 years later there would be another large gathering, just west on the National Mall, to begin construction on a grand memorial to honor him?
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