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The Faces of Mount Rushmore

The Faces of Mount Rushmore

The four presidents carved on Mount Rushmore National Memorial represent the founding (Washington), growth (Jefferson), preservation (Lincoln) and development (Roosevelt) of the United States of America.

They symbolize freedom, liberty and the power of a dream. For over 70 years, they’ve stood high above the Black Hills, inspiring generations of families and visitors from all over the world. 

FOUNDING

George Washington, 1st President of the United States (1789-1797)

George Washington was elected president in 1789, but took the position reluctantly. He knew the challenges the new nation faced, and he feared he wasn’t the right man for the job. Despite being a member of the Federalist Party, Washington was unanimously elected by the 69 electors to lead the new United States of America.

The face of George Washington was the first to be carved on Mount Rushmore. It was officially dedicated on July 4, 1930. For the dedication, a 39ft by 67ft American flag was hand-sewn by a group of Rapid City women and Mrs. Gutzon Borglum. The flag was later used to dedicate all of the presidents on Mount Rushmore.

George Washington

GROWTH

Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of the United States (1801-1809)

Thomas Jefferson, our nation’s third president and one of the authors of the Declaration of Independence, is credited with the expansion of the country to the west. In 1803, Jefferson purchased the Louisiana Territory from France for $15 million, and sent Lewis and Clark to explore the new territory. After their return, settlers started moving west into the new land.

Thomas Jefferson’s face on Mount Rushmore was originally started on the opposite side of George Washington, but 18 months into the carving, the carvers realized the granite was not suitable. His face was dynamited off and carved on the other side. President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated the face of Jefferson on August 30, 1936.

Thomas Jefferson

DEVELOPMENT

Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States (1901-1909)

Theodore Roosevelt was a fiery individualist who embodied American culture of the early 1900s. His conservationism and willingness to take on big business are examples of why he is considered to be one of our great presidents. His progressive policies set the stage for important reforms of the 20th century. He is also the father or our National Park System, which protects valuable natural resources so generations of Americans can enjoy them.

The face of Roosevelt was the last to be carved on Mount Rushmore. It was dedicated on July 2, 1939.

Theodore Roosevelt

PRESERVATION

Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States (1861-1865)

Abraham Lincoln is considered by many scholars to be one of our nation’s greatest presidents. He is credited with holding the country together during the Civil War and was instrumental in the abolishment of slavery. On April 14, 1865, Lincoln was shot while attending a play at Ford's Theater in Washington, D.C. He died on April 15th.

The face of Abraham Lincoln on Mount Rushmore was officially dedicated on September 17, 1937.

Abraham Lincoln