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Mount Rushmore

On the 4th of July, in 1776, the thirteen colonies declared independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain. This momentous event was the first step on a long and perilous journey of creating a nation where everybody has an equal chance, equal rights, equal freedom of speech, equal justice under the law; a long journey to become the epitome of democracy. That journey included wars, famine, migration, a blending of many different cultures, religions, languages and customs. That journey made us what we are today.

Of course this journey isn’t over yet, nor will it ever will be, as we must strive to continue to improve. During the 20th century, however, the idea of commemorating the journey we’ve already traveled came to life. It was decided that the faces of four of our presidents should be carved into granite to represent “an accomplishment born, planned, and created in the minds and by the hands of Americans for Americans”. 

The four presidents chosen for the grand project were:

George Washington, the first president of the United States. Our first president led a war for our independence from Great Britain. He became the father of our great nation. Because of his important role in our history, Washington’s face was chosen to be the most prominent of the four. His figure represents the birth of the United States of America.
Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States, penned the Declaration of Independence in 1803, but also bought Louisiana Territory from France, doubling the size of our country. He was aptly chosen to represent the growth of the United States.
Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th president of the United States, was in office at the dawn of the new century, when our economy was booming. He negotiated the construction of the Panama canal, and worked hard to end the monopolies of large corporations, thus giving smaller businesses and working men the chance to prosper. His likeness was chosen to represent the development of the United states.
Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States. Deep in his heart, Lincoln believed, and fought for the abolition of slavery, and for  the preservation of the union. He believed that holding the nation together was the highest ideal, especially in troublesome times. He was chosen to represent the preservation of the United States.

The construction of this colossal sculpture began in 1927, and lasted until 1941. It was undertaken by sculptor Gutzam Borglum, an Idahoan of Danish descent, his son Lincoln Borglum, and 400 brave workers. The astonishing sculptures were 60 feet high upon completion. The chosen location was the Black Hills of South Dakota. The sculpture doesn’t quite match Borglum’s ideas, since he wanted to make the busts of the presidents from the waist up, and include carvings of the Declaration of Independence, the Louisiana purchase, the US constitution, and several other documents, but the construction had to end due to a lack of funding. Today, more than two million tourists visit the shrine of democracy each year. It is South Dakota's top tourist attraction, in a state where tourism is the second largest industry. 


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