The Four Faces of Mount Rushmore

Perhaps the greatest monument to consider on President’s Day is Mount Rushmore. Here is the story of the “Big 4” who are on the famous mountain. 

Mount Rushmore is arguably the greatest monument to honor American presidents that there is. It is an iconic place that nearly any American can recognize. Sculptor Gutzon Borglum was given the assignment of creating the monument and was given a surprising amount of freedom in choosing what he wanted the structure to represent. He was highly meticulous in choosing the 4 presidents that he did. He believed Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln each told their own unique story that contributed to the overall meaning of the monument and even America in its entirety. 


George Washington is perhaps the most obvious choice to be on Mount Rushmore, and Gutzon Borglum certainly thought so as well. Borglum chose him because he represents the inception of the nation. He led the colonial powers to a win in the Revolutionary War and was the nation’s first president, assigned to set the action to the principles that America had been founded on. Borglum strategically placed Washington as the most noticeable face on the mountain given his significance to the country. 


While Washington represents the country’s birth, Jefferson represents both the many ideals that the country was founded on (as arguably the primary contributor to the Declaration of Independence), as well as a figure responsible for America becoming a legitimate world power. This is because Jefferson purchased a massive amount of land in the Louisiana Purchase, which paved the way for America to continue to grow in size and population. 


Arguably the most controversial addition to Mount Rushmore is Theodore Roosevelt. However, Borglum saw Roosevelt as a necessary addition to representing the country’s forward progress into the modern world. This is because Roosevelt perhaps made the most significant contributions to America’s economy in the world markets with his founding of the Panama Canal. In addition, Borglum saw his vision and admiration of the land of America as a pivotal piece to America itself, which was especially important in the spectacular natural location of Mount Rushmore within South Dakota. 


The Civil War was a time in which the nation could have easily collapsed, with the visions of the founding fathers 100 years ago completely crumbling. It also was a time in which the nation had to confront the fact that it could always be striving to become the beacon of morality that it set out to be, and confronted slavery. This confrontation of the evils of slavery as well as the ability to hold America together in desperate times is why Lincoln was chosen by Borglum to be on Mount Rushmore.