Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore National Memorial is a sculpture carved into the granite face of Mount Rushmore near Keystone, South Dakota, in the United States. Sculpted by Gutzon Borglum and later by his son Lincoln Borglum, Mount Rushmore features 60-foot (18 m) sculptures of the heads of former United States presidents (in order from left to right) George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.

A model at the site depicting Mount Rushmore’s intended final design. Insufficient funding forced the carving to end in October 1941.

South Dakota historian Doane Robinson is credited with conceiving the idea of carving the likenesses of famous people into the Black Hills region of South Dakota in order to promote tourism in the region. Robinson’s initial idea was to sculpt the Needles; however, Gutzon Borglum rejected the Needles site and chose the larger Mount Rushmore. Borglum also decided the sculpture should have a more national focus, and chose the four presidents whose likenesses would be carved into the mountain. After securing federal funding, construction on the memorial began in 1927, and the presidents’ faces were completed between 1934 and 1939. Upon Gutzon Borglum’s death in March 1941, his son Lincoln Borglum took over construction. Though the initial concept called for each president to be depicted from head to waist, lack of funding forced construction to end in October 1941.

The U.S. National Park Service took control of the memorial in 1933, while it was still under construction, and manages the memorial to the present day. It attracts approximately two million people annually

via Mount Rushmorea.

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6 Responses to Mount Rushmore

  1. alfy says:

    The Black Hills of the Dakotas, (older readers will recall the song by Doris Day, “Take me back to the Black Hills…”) are sacred to the Dakotas and other Indian tribes. They regard the Rushmore carvings as a desecration, rather as if the Football League had painted a series of black and white polygonals over the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral.

    Who is the odd man out of the four Presidents? Teddy Roosevelt. The other three were distinguished occupants of the office. Teddy was not.

  2. Deskarati says:

    A why is it that you disparage this famous American so, Alfy? He was the first American ever to win a Nobel Prize a recipient of the Medal of Honour and according to Wikipedia he is ‘consistently been ranked by scholars as one of the greatest U.S. Presidents.’

    • alfy says:

      The reasons why I am no enthusiast for Theodore Roosevelt are set out below.

      American Presidents and the American people have always had a two-faced attitude to colonialism. Because their nation was born in a late-18 C revolution against British imperialism, Americans have fondly imagined themselves to be “freedom-loving anti-colonialists,” disapproving of the empires of Britain, France, Spain and Portugal etc.

      Look, however, at the record of the USA. What else but colonialism was the 19 C westward expansion of the nation into the native American-Indian territories. The main effect was to deprive them of their traditional lands and ways of life. The peoples of the Indian sub-continent suffered a good deal less at the hands of the British colonialists than did the native American-Indians under the domination of the USA. This is the context in which the Mount Rushmore carvings need to be seen.

      By the end of the 19 C the continent of North America was occupied coast to coast by the USA, including all the former Spanish colonies in the south-west. At this time, the USA began to expand into Central and South America. In the short-lived Spanish-American War of 1898, Theodore Roosevelt raised a troop of irregular cavalry, the “Roughriders” to promote American colonialist efforts, so that Cuba fell under the dominance of the USA for the next sixty years.

      Cuba endured decades of exploitation by American capitalism, principally by the great fruit corporations. In the final decades before the Communist uprising under Fidel Castro, the then Cuban dictator, Battista was in league with American gangsters. When the ordinary Cuban people threw off the yoke of oppression, thoughtful Americans might have reflected that this was what their ancestors did against a much milder British yoke.

      Instead, seeing their power broken, the USA reacted with sanctions and abortive attempts to re-establish colonialism by military force. (Kennedy’s Bay of Pigs debacle) Why are the Americans in Guantanamo Bay today? It is last vestige of their Cuban colony. I hold no brief for the communist dictatorship of Fidel Castro, but much of the blame for its extremism can be laid at the door of appalling American foreign policy for most of the 20 C.

      Roosevelt’s Foreign Policy
      Who had created this policy? In case I should be accused of bias, I quote from a reference book, “He (Theodore Roosevelt) campaigned against the great trusts (combinations that reduced competition) while carrying on a jingoistic foreign policy designed to enforce US supremacy over Latin America.” (The Wordsworth Dictionary of Biography)

      One of the effects of this American domination over South and Central America was the emergence of extreme left-wing and communist rebels aiming not just to reject American influence but to destroy capitalism and any form of liberal democracy. Roosevelt has a great deal to answer for.

      The Nobel Peace Prize
      “Roosevelt got his Nobel Peace Prize for his part in ending the Russo-Japanese War (1909)” Don’t be too impressed by these Peace Prizes. Barack Obama got one just for being elected President, before he was in a position to actually do anything.

  3. alfy says:

    I reproduce here the notes from wikipedia on the American Indian view of Mount Rushmore, I can’t vouch for its accuracy, but it does provide a useful corrective to the orthodox view.
    Mount Rushmore is controversial among Native Americans because the United States seized the area from the Lakota tribe after the Great Sioux War of 1876–77. The Treaty of Fort Laramie from 1868 had previously granted the Black Hills to the Lakota in perpetuity. Members of the American Indian Movement led an occupation of the monument in 1971, naming it “Mount Crazy Horse”. Among the participants were young activists, grandparents, children and Lakota holy man John Fire Lame Deer, who planted a prayer staff atop the mountain. Lame Deer said the staff formed a symbolic shroud over the presidents’ faces “which shall remain dirty until the treaties concerning the Black Hills are fulfilled.”[19]

    In 2004, the first Native American superintendent of the park was appointed. Gerard Baker has stated that he will open up more “avenues of interpretation”, and that the four presidents are “only one avenue and only one focus.”[20]

    The Crazy Horse Memorial is being constructed elsewhere in the Black Hills to commemorate a famous Native American leader and as a response to Mount Rushmore. It is intended to be larger than Mount Rushmore and has the support of Lakota chiefs; the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation has rejected offers of federal funds. However, this memorial is likewise the subject of controversy, even within the Native American community.[21]

    The Monument also provokes controversy because some allege that underlying it is the theme of racial superiority legitimized by the idea of Manifest Destiny. The mountains were carved with Borglum’s choice of four presidents active during the time of the acquisition of Native American land. Gutzon Borglum himself excites controversy because he was an active member of the white supremacist organization, the Ku Klux Klan”

  4. Daniel Robb says:

    Now thats an answer!

  5. Deskarati says:

    I knew I should have kept my mouth shut, I’ll never learn!

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