In Lincoln Memorial
This 1922 National Archives photo show the Georgian marble statue inside the Lincoln Memorial being assembled. It was made by Daniel Chester French, who incorporated the American Sign Language symbols, ‘A’ and ‘L’ to the President’s hands out of gratitude for the late president’s founding of Gallaudet University for the Deaf–something French’s hearing impaired daughter greatly benefited from.
Although a monument to honor the nation’s murdered (and martyred) president was granted by the United States Congress in 1867, a site was not chosen until 1902 in a campaign spearheaded by Teddy Roosevelt. The site, directly facing the Washington Monument, was originally a swampland. Surprisingly, it was an extremely divisive project–too many Confederate soldiers, and their families opposed the idea of a tribute to emancipation.
The dedication ceremony on May 30th 1922, led by Former President and Chief Justice William Howard Taft and attended by Lincoln’s only surviving child, Robert Todd Lincoln, proved to be equally divisive. Although the blacks were emancipated, Washington D.C. was still officially segregated. Black attendees were shoved to the back and to add insult to injury, their cause was demeaned on the podium where President Harding noted emancipation was sought only as a means to “union and nationality.”