Black Hills Knowledge Netowork

February 26, 2018

IN HISTORY: Congress Approves Carving of Mount Rushmore

On March 3, 1925, Congress passed legislation which granted authorization of the carving of Mount Rushmore. A similar state bill was passed in the South Dakota Legislature and signed by Governor Gunderson just two days there after. The legislation, known as the Mount Harney National Memorial bill, had been twice defeated before its narrow passage.

Gutzon Borglum had selected the location in the Black Hills as he felt its dimensions suited the scope of his project. However, the original idea for such a monument came from Doane Robinson, then the State Historian for South Dakota. Robinson had preferred carvings of heroic figures of the west, including Lewis and Clark, Sacagawea, or Buffalo Bill Cody. When Robinson invited Borglum to South Dakota to explore the idea, Borglum instead insisted that the carvings should be a “national monument commemorating America’s founders and builders.”

Shortly after Congress authorized Mt. Rushmore’s carving, the Mount Harney Memorial Association was established to raise funds for the project. The association also selected the monument’s figures—George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln—as they best represented the expansion and preservation of the United States. Carving on the memorial would begin in 1927 alongside a formal dedication by President Coolidge on August 10 of that year.

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