"In this temple, as in the hearts of the people for whom he saved the Union, the memory of Abraham Lincoln is enshrined forever."
Beneath these words, the 16th President of the United States—the Great Emancipator and preserver of the nation during the Civil War—sits immortalized in marble. Since its dedication on Memorial Day, 1922, the Lincoln Memorial has become the site of some of the nation’s most important social demonstrations, perhaps most notably Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
Lincoln is surrounded by 36 Doric columns, one for each state at the time of his death. By the time construction was finished, 12 more states had joined the Union, so the names of all 48 states are carved around the top of the 99 foot tall structure. A plaque for Alaska and Hawaii was added later. The Southern and Northern interior walls of the memorial are inscribed with the full text of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and 2nd Inaugural Address, respectively. Construction was completed in May, 1922 and the Lincoln Memorial was dedicated on Memorial Day, May 30, 1922.