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Lincoln Memorial Education Series: The Dedication

Wide shot of the Lincoln Memorial on the day of dedication with a large crowd in front
Lincoln Memorial Dedication, May 30, 1922

Library of Congress

Grade Level:

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

Guiding Questions:

There were three main speakers at the dedication of the Lincoln Memorial on May 30, 1922: Chief Justice William Howard Taft, President Warren Harding and Dr. Robert Moton. Both Taft and Harding remarked on the memorial’s emphasis towards national unity, insisting that emancipation was of secondary importance and a byproduct of war. Dr. Moton, on the other hand, used the occasion to plea for racial justice and claimed the “greatness for Abraham Lincoln lies in this, that amid doubt and distrust, against the counsel of chosen advisers, in the hour of the nation’s utter peril, he put his trust in God and spoke the word that gave freedom to a race.” Analyze and compare the three speeches.

Which speech do you think best reflects the legacy of Abraham Lincoln?
Which speech do you think best reflects the meaning of the memorial?
Which one best reflects your opinion of Abraham Lincoln and the memorial?

Vocabulary:

Unity: the state of being united or joined as a whole
Emancipation: to free from restraint, control, or the power of another especially to free from bondage

Photo of Lincoln Memorial dedication looking up at men standing in the memorial, crowds gathered in foreground
Dedication of the Lincoln Memorial, 5/30/22

National Photo Company Collection, Library of Congress

Speeches:

Follow the links to read the three speeches.

Chief Justice William Howard Taft (Internet Archive)

Dr. Robert Moton’s Draft and Speech (Library of Congress American Memory Collection)

President Warren G. Harding (The American Presidency Project at University of California, Santa Barbara)

Additional resources:

People - Lincoln Memorial (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov)

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

Lincoln Memorial , National Mall and Memorial Parks

Last updated: October 29, 2021