Today In History – February 12

On February 12, 1914, the first stone of the Lincoln Memorial was laid in Washington, D.C.. M. F. Comer, Senator Joseph C. S. Blackburn, and Henry Bacon led the groundbreaking ceremony. February 12 was Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. 1914 marked what would have been his ninety-first birthday.

The Lincoln Memorial was allocated three hundred thousand dollars for its building. In the following months, the memorial steadily began to be built. Along the way, a few changes were made. Lincoln’s statue was initially supposed to be ten feet but was enlarged to nineteen feet to prevent it from appearing too small in the large chamber.

When the project finished in 1922, it was dedicated by former President and current Chief Justice of the Supreme Court William Howard Taft, President Warren G. Harding, and Robert Todd Lincoln.

Prominent African American figures were invited to the dedication to represent Lincoln’s living legacy. However, upon their arrival, they discovered they were assigned a segregated section guarded by U.S. Marines.

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