Why These Four Presidents?

Gutzon Borglum selected these four presidents because from his perspective, they represented the most important events in the history of the United States. Would another artist at that time, or perhaps a modern artist choose differently? As you read more about Borglum's choices, think about what you might have done if the decision was up to you.

 
Photo of George Washington on Mount Rushmore.

George Washington, First President of the United States

Born 1732, died 1799. Washington led the colonists in the American Revolutionary War to win independence from Great Britain. He was the father of the new country and laid the foundation of American democracy. Because of his importance, Borglum chose Washington to be the most prominent figure on the mountain and represent the birth of the United States.

"The preservation of the sacred fire of Liberty, and the destiny of the Republican model of Government, are justly considered as deeply, perhaps as finally staked, on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people." George Washington

Other places to learn more about George Washington:

George Washington Birthplace National Monument
The White House - Presidents - George Washington

 
Photo of Thomas Jefferson on Mount Rushmore.

Thomas Jefferson, Third President of the United States

Born 1743, died 1826. Jefferson was the primary author of the Declaration of Independence, a document which inspires democracies around the world. He also purchased the Louisiana Territory from France in 1803 which doubled the size of our country, adding all or part of fifteen present-day states. Gutzon Borglum chose Jefferson to represent the growth of the United States.

"We act not for ourselves but for the whole human race. The event of our experiment is to show whether man can be trusted with self - government." Thomas Jefferson

Other places to learn more about Thomas Jefferson:

Thomas Jefferson Memorial National Memorial
Jefferson National Expansion Memorial National Memorial
The White House - Presidents - Thomas Jefferson

 
Photograph of Theodore Roosevelt on Mount Rushmore.

Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States

Born 1858, died 1919. Roosevelt provided leadership when America experienced rapid economic growth as it entered the 20th Century. He was instrumental in negotiating the construction of the Panama Canal, linking the east and the west. He was known as the "trust buster" for his work to end large corporate monopolies and ensure the rights of the common working man. Borglum chose Roosevelt to represent the development of the United States.

"The first requisite of a good citizen in this Republic of ours is that he shall be able and willing to pull his weight - that he shall not be a mere passenger." Theodore Roosevelt

Other places to learn more about Theodore Roosevelt:

Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site
Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site
Sagamore Hill National Historic Site
Theodore Roosevelt National Park
The White House - Presidents - Theodore Roosevelt

 
Photo of Abraham Lincoln on Mount Rushmore.

Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States

Born 1809, died 1865. Lincoln held the nation together during its greatest trial, the Civil War. Lincoln believed his most sacred duty was the preservation of the union. It was his firm conviction that slavery must be abolished. Gutzon Borglum chose Lincoln to represent the preservation of the United States.

"I leave you hoping that the lamp of liberty will burn in your bosoms until there shall no longer be a doubt that all men are created free and equal." Abraham Lincoln

Other places to learn more about Abraham Lincoln:

Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park
Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial
Lincoln Home National Historic Site
Lincoln Memorial National Memorial
The White House - Presidents - Abraham Lincoln

 

To learn more about these four presidents and all the others follow this link to the White House.

 

List of United States Presidents with their years in office and party affiliation:

1. George Washington 1789 - 1797
2. John Adams 1797 - 1801 Federalist
3. Thomas Jefferson 1801 - 1809 Democratic - Republican
4. James Madison 1809 - 1817 Democratic - Republican
5. James Monroe 1817 - 1825 Democratic - Republican
6. John Quincy Adams 1825 - 1829 Democratic - Republican
7. Andrew Jackson 1829 - 1837 Democrat
8. Martin Van Buren 1837 - 1841 Democrat
9. William Henry Harrison 1841 Whig
10. John Tyler 1841 - 1845 Whig
11. James K. Polk 1845 - 1849 Democrat
12. Zachary Taylor 1849 - 1850 Whig
13. Millard Fillmore 1850 - 1853 Whig
14. Franklin Pierce 1853 - 1857 Democrat
15. James Buchanan 1857 - 1861 Democrat
16. Abraham Lincoln 1861 - 1865 Republican
17. Andrew Johnson 1865 - 1869 Democrat
18. Ulysses S. Grant 1869 - 1877 Republican
19. Rutherford B. Hayes 1877 - 1881 Republican
20. James A. Garfield 1881 Republican
21. Chester A. Arthur 1881 - 1885 Republican
22. Grover Cleveland 1885 - 1889 Democrat
23. Benjamin Harrison 1889 - 1893 Republican
24. Grover Cleveland 1893 - 1897 Democrat
25. William McKinley 1897 - 1901 Republican
26. Theodore Roosevelt 1901 - 1909 Republican
27. William H. Taft 1909 - 1913 Republican
28. Woodrow Wilson 1913 - 1921 Democrat
29. Warren G. Harding 1921 - 1923 Republican
30. Calvin Coolidge 1923 - 1929 Republican
31. Herbert C. Hoover 1929 - 1933 Republican
32. Franklin D. Roosevelt 1933 - 1945 Democrat
33. Harry S. Truman 1945 - 1953 Democrat
34. Dwight D. Eisenhower 1953 - 1961 Republican
35. John F. Kennedy 1961 - 1963 Democrat
36. Lyndon B. Johnson 1963 - 1969 Democrat
37. Richard M. Nixon 1969 - 1974 Republican
38. Gerald R. Ford 1974 - 1977 Republican
39. Jimmy Carter 1977 - 1981 Democrat
40. Ronald Reagan 1981 - 1989 Republican
41. George H. W. Bush 1989 - 1993 Republican
42. William J. Clinton 1993 - 2001 Democrat
43. George W. Bush 2001 - 2009 Republican
44. Barack H. Obama 2009 - 2017 Democrat
45. Donald J. Trump 2017 - Republican

Last updated: June 22, 2018

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Mailing Address:

13000 Highway 244
Building 31, Suite 1

Keystone, SD 57751

Phone:

(605) 574-2523
Park information. Phones are answered 7 days a week. Hours are 8:00 - 5:00 October through May, 8:00 - 10:00 June through mid-August and 8:00 - 9:00 mid-August through September. All times are Mountain Time.

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