Lincoln Memorial Education Series: Tale of Two Ceremonies

Scene at the dedication of the Lincoln Memorial exercises.
Scene at the dedication of the Lincoln Memorial exercises.

Library of Congress

Grade Level:

Middle School: Seventh Grade thru Eighth Grade, High School: Ninth Grade thru Twelfth Grade


Students will examine various aspects of the Lincoln Memorial to determine its meaning. Students will compare newspaper articles and decide whether bias existed in the coverage of the dedication. Students will discuss why newspapers chose to cover the dedication the way they did.

Guiding Questions:

Compare the two articles about the Lincoln Memorial Dedication.

How does each article describe the dedication?
What are the main differences?
What do the descriptions have in common?

Do the articles make you think differently about the Lincoln Memorial?

Newspaper Clipping from The Chicago Whip
Newspaper Clipping from The Chicago Whip

Library of Congress


“Distinguished Guests” Find Themselves Roped Off in Pen, Many Leave In Disgust WASHINGTON, D. C., June 10.—As more than 100,000 persons gathered to witness the dedication of the $3,000,000 Lincoln Memorial here on May 30, twenty-one descendants of the slaves liberated by the Great Emancipator found themselves roped off in a small enclosure away from the rest of the audience. When shown into the enclosure they were accosted by a white marine acting as guard and told to "sit down, and that damn quick.” Complaint to the commander of the guard failed to result in his removal. All those seated in the “Jim-crowed” section had been given tickets marked "Section S, Platform.” After several protests they were denied seats elsewhere. They then left the enclosure in disgust. Among those who suffered the outrage were Dr. and Mrs. Emmet Scott and Atty. and Mrs. Perry Howard.

Moton Speaks
Dr. R.R. Moton, principal of Tuskegee Institute, spoke as representative of the race freed by Lincoln.His remarks were loudly applauded. Dr. Moton noticed the commotion when the disgusted party left the grounds, and sending the cause, made reference to it in his address. He took the platform shortly after they had withdrawn. President Harding formally accepted the memorial in behalf of the nation, and emphasized the fact that the emancipation of the slaves was merely an incident in Lincoln's prosecution of the Civil War, and that if he could have avoided the war, he never would have freed the slaves.

Newspaper clipping from  the Washington Herald
Newspaper clipping from the Washington Herald

Library of Congress


100,00 Cheer As "Masterly Monument" Is Given to Government
The great soul of Abraham Lincoln yesterday looked down on a vast concourse of people and realized that "these dead have not died In vain" for he saw America united gathered at the shrine raised to him by a grateful nation and pour forth, in inspired phrases, a paean to the immortal who welded the broken destinies of homeland.
White, black, yellow, red and brown people of every civilized land on earth, and representatives from every State in the Union he preserved, gathered to honor the "master martyr" in the dedication of the "lone white temple" which has been ten years in the building.
Statesmen Gather:
The President of the republic; its Chief Justice, himself once a President and inceptor of the pile which will stand against the ages; diplomats of foreign nations to which the ideals for which he stood have spread; Cabinet officers; Senators and Representatives of Congress; those who fought in the war under his banner and those who fought against it;sprightly soldiers of the present day, who have just emerged from the greatest conflict known to man; members of the race he freed-all gathered to hear of tribute in memory of the once unlettered boy of the West.Those words from Chief Justice Taft, who presented the memorial to the nation, "Had he lived, the consequences of the (civil ) war would not have been as hard for them (of the South) to bear, the wounds would have been more easily healed" brought a thunder of applause from the thousands that filled the vast spaces before the memorial.
President Speaks
This touch from President Harding, as he departed from his speech, started anew the cheers that live in the American heart for the Great Emancipator: "If Abraham Lincoln could be here today and see the picture that is stretched before me, I know he would see his dreams of a united nation realized. Before me I see the men in blue who answered his clarion call to battle for Old Glory, and flanking them on the right are those valiant boys in grey, both united under one flag standing together for the glory of country." Dr. Robert R Moton president of the noted school in Tuskegee, Ala struck a responsive chord when he said that the negro of American justified in the world war the confidence Lincoln imposed in them through his Proclamation of Emancipation. Dr. Moton pointed out that the 12,000 convicted under violations of the espionage act during the war, not one was a negro. The face of the colored man was lighted with the glory of reverence as he poured forth his soul in glad gratitude that such a man should have lived and that he should by the privilege do him honor.

Part of a series of articles titled What Does the Lincoln Memorial Mean to Me?.

Lincoln Memorial, National Mall and Memorial Parks

Last updated: September 17, 2021