Micheal Liddell

The Monument: Symbol or Tribute

After the Revolutionary War, the United States gained its independence, which was gained through the individual colonies coming to together to face a common enemy, but after many years of trial and error, the country still faced many separations. The country was divided between the North and the South and the southern customs were enveloped in slavery, a custom the North had high opposition toward. This opposition came up most times the north and the south wanted to compromise on important bills that were passed in Congress, bills that were passed through the constitutionality of slavery. Washington, a slave owner himself, even knew that the strong differences on the issue of slavery would prove fatal to the country and when he was chosen to have executive order over the creation of the nation’s capital, his persistence alone would bring forth the succession of the capital. Being a secular god in the eyes of everyone in the nation, Washington’s memorial was supposed to be a symbol that would assemble every state into a unified populace. Even though the Washington monument was supposed to be the central symbol of a great nation, it actually memorialized the history of a great man, whose insane vision made a magnificent city reality.
George Washington was the man who brought down the British and made true the secession that we had proposed in the Declaration of Independence. Since he was the only man in the nation to do this, he was a revered symbol in the eyes of the American people and there wasn’t anyone who didn’t believe in him. Congress wanted to make a capital, a place that would symbolize what the country stood for. There was much debate on the location of the capital and just like many debates in Congress, opposition on both sides were threatening to tear the young country apart, which was not what George Washington wanted for a country that had fought so hard for its freedom. Congress did agree on a site though, the Potomac, and they put the project in the hands of Washington. “Failure was simply unacceptable” for Washington and since he knew how “politically fragile the whole project was,” “no man would expend more energy on the capital than he did, ” a feat that would prove the greatness of Washington.
Opposition in Congress, those who didn’t want the capital at the Potomac, never expected this plan to work because the place Washington was planning on creating the capital was swampy and nearly inhabitable. But Washington’s vision looked past the surface and envisioned “an entirely new kind of American city that embodied in bricks, mortar and ashlar the soaring hopes, the latent power, and the still tenuous unity of the embryonic nation.” Washington got his associates, those who were speculators like himself, to invest money into the capital so that the vision he had could come true. Through speculation, buying land in hopes that its value will grow overtime, Washington planned to finance one of the magnificent capitals the world has ever seen. With the help of Andrew Ellicott and Benjamin Banneker, Washington made his vision a reality before his death almost a decade after the capital had been built.
The monuments that were supposed to be enclosed in the capital city were supposed to be great works. The Capitol was even a work of architectural genius with its master outside framework to its artistic design in the main chamber, but the Washington monument wasn’t, in comparison to all the other monuments, a great work. The original design of the Washington monument was a great work that could be used to bring cohesion to the nation already broken by slavery. Washington never wanted the issue of slavery to break up this nation and in fact, “in the last decade of his life Washington grasped some truth about slavery that was eluding everyone around him… for all it superficial benevolence, the slave regime cloaked crimes that Washington could no longer stomach. ” Washington’s morality was aiming away from slavery and his monument would be built in a time where slavery had nearly destroyed a nation torn.
Congress decided to start making his memorial after his death because they the American people were looking for ways they could memorialized a fallen leader. About a third of the monument was built but construction was stopped on the monument because of the civil war that occurred, which almost destroyed an already young nation. With the help of Abraham Lincoln and the Union army, the Confederate army was brought back into the USA through a very bloody battle that killed nearly half a million Americans. At first, Washington’s monument was supposed to outlook the north and the south bringing cohesion to this great nation, but after the civil war people sought to memorialize a man who never wanted war to happen. After the other two-thirds of the monument were created, the American people had found a symbol of a nation that symbolized a great man’s vision.
Yet still, the Washington monument, in comparison to other memorials inside the capital, was unsatisfactory. His monument in theory was supposed to be the most important monument in the country. The Jefferson monument shows an enormous statue of Jefferson with al of his words of wisdom around him and the Lincoln Memorial shows a great man sitting on a throne of sorts with his words around him. When you go the Washington monument you see an obelisk, almost trying to reach the sky, which overlooks the entire city. This symbolizes Washington and his vision because he was the one who overlooked the creation of Washington, DC and there is nothing in the city that should higher in importance than his monument. The height of his monument is a tribute to the greatness Washington achieved during his life and the status he will always have even with death.
In conclusion, The Washington monument is a symbol that was meant to bring to together a great nation but in fact is a dedication to the memory of a great leader, whose vision got us to where we are now. Washington wanted nothing more than to see this nation prosper, and his monument overlooks the country to make sure that everything is as he planned it to be. His monument reflects the hardship he faced with Congress by its construction being halted during the Civil War and it shows the growth that the nation has overcome. In many ways, the Washington monument is the symbol of this nation but we shall not forget that Washington is America. Since Washington is the symbol of our nation, his monument is only the dedication of his memory.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License