Presidential History Blog

Our iconic Washington Monument

The Washington Monument took more than 40 years to build.

Planning the Monument

As one might expect, circa 1832 Congress planned to commemorate the man whose name became the nation’s capital. Dozens of ideas were proposed and debated. The arguments went on for weeks.

What our second and third generation of statesmen had in mind was a simple monument. Nothing to focus on a great general or a wise statesman. George Washington’s reputation was singular, and should stand alone.

Getting the monument started was easy enough. Finishing it took decades.

When the idea of a great obelisk was proposed, popularized by Napoleon’s conquest of Egypt in the early part of the 19th Century, there was agreement. Plain, simple, imposing and towering over the city at 555 feet. 

Funding the Monument

Congress, of course, needs the means to pay for the items/programs it commissions. This is…

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