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.
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
Last updated: January 20, 2021