Matthew B. Gilmore
PUBLISHED: JANUARY 11TH, 2016
BY: Matthew B. Gilmore
On May 30, 1922 a huge crowd of nearly 50,000 assembled for the dedication of the Lincoln Memorial at the far west end of the Mall. Congress recessed. President Harding and Chief Justice Taft addressed the assembled, as did Dr. Robert Moton of the Tuskegee Institute. It was a day of reconciliation for North and South. Few attending might have realized an ongoing struggle to restore Washington’s first memorial to President Lincoln was drawing to a close, nearly won.
2015 view of the Lincoln National Monument located in front of the DC Court of Appeals (originally, City Hall) on Indiana Ave. at 4th St., NW. photo–Lucas Bojarowski, imagesbylucas.com.
A budget appropriation in 1919 for the District of Columbia included various innocuous, routine street improvement projects and an unnoticed item for the removal of a monument. That monument, the Lincoln National Monument had stood, towering over the Old City Hall, since 1868. This removal sparked outrage, precipitating a struggle to return it, while the Lincoln memorial rose on the banks of the Potomac.
Just a few days after Lincoln’s murder, the council of the City of Washington ordered the formation of a committee to create a monument to the assassinated president. The committee formed April 28, 1865 and soon took the name the Lincoln National Monument Association. Mayor Richard Wallach was the president, Crosby S. Noyes of the Evening Star served as secretary, George W. Riggs was the treasurer. A panoply of Washington eminences served as trustees, including Zalmon Richards, S.J. Bowen, Benjamin B. French, John Semmes, S.P. Brown, Dr. C.H. Nichols, Henry Addison among others.