Everyone knows about Mount Rushmore, especially if they have seen Cary Grant and Eve Marie Saint clambering all over it in the climax of North by Northwest.
Located in South Dakota, it is a monument carved out of a granite mountain honouring the first 150 years of US history. It features 18 metre high busts of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. Carving started in 1927 and concluded in 1941.
(Click on photos to enlarge).
Although the back of Mount Rushmore is rarely seen, it is not true that this is an accurate photo of it:
Less well known than Mount Rushmore is a bas-relief sculpture at Stone Mountain, Georgia, the largest bas-relief in the world. The sculpture features three figures of the Confederate States of America: Stonewall Jackson, Robert E Lee and Thomas Jefferson.
Officially known as the Confederate Memorial Carving, it depicts the Confederate President Jefferson, and the Generals Lee and Jackson, astride their favourite horses Blackjack, Traveller and Old Sorrel respectively.
The carving is 120m above the ground, covers an area of 12,000 sq m and at the deepest point is recessed 13m into the mountain face.
In 1912, the carving existed only in the imagination of Mrs. C. Helen Plane, charter member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC). The Venable family, owners of the mountain, deeded the north face of the mountain to the UDC in 1916. The UDC was given 12 years to complete a sizable Civil War monument. Gutzon Borglum was commissioned to do the carving, and he with the Stone Mountain project. Borglum abandoned the project in 1923 (and later went on to complete Mount Rushmore). American sculptor Augustus Lukeman continued until 1928, when further work stopped for thirty years. In 1958, at the urging of Governor Marvin Griffin, the Georgia legislature approved a measure to purchase Stone Mountain for $1,125,000. In 1963, Walker Hancock was selected to complete the carving, and work began in 1964. The carving was completed by Roy Faulkner, who later operated a museum (now closed) on nearby Memorial Drive commemorating the carving's history. The carving was considered complete on March 3, 1972.
Stone Mountain is not, however, without controversy.
Readers who have seen Forrest Gump may recall Forrest describing the background to his name:
"Now, when I was a baby, Momma named me after the great Civil War hero, General Nathan Bedford Forrest. She said we was related to him in some way. And what he did was, he started up this club called the Ku Klux Klan. They'd all dress up in their robes and their bedsheets and act like a bunch of ghosts or spooks or something. They'd even put bedsheets on their horses and ride around. And anyway, that's how I got my name, Forrest Gump. Momma said that the Forrest part was to remind me that sometimes we all do things that, well, just don't make no sense."
What does that have to do with the Stone Mounatin carving?
Also from Wikipedia:
Stone Mountain is where the second KKK was formed in 1915. It has also been used as a site for Klan rallies throughout the years.
Kul Klux Klan activities at Stone Mountain are deep-rooted, although the original conception of the memorial pre-dates the 1915 revival of the Klan. The revival of the Ku Klux Klan was emboldened by the release of D W Griffith’s Klan-glorifying film The Birth of a Nation and by the lunching of Leo Frank, who was convicted in the murder of Mary Phagan. On November 25, 1915, a group of robed and hooded men met at Stone Mountain to create a new incarnation of the Klan. They were led by William J Simons, and they included a group calling itself the Knights of Mary Phagan. A cross was lit, and the oath was administered by Nathan Bedford Forrest II, the grandson of the original Imperial Grand Wizard, Gen Nathan B FGorrest, and was witnessed by the owner of Stone Mountain, Samuel Venable.
Fundraising for the monument resumed in 1923, and in October of that year, Venable granted the Klan easement with perpetual right to hold celebrations as they desired. Because of their deep involvement with the early fund-raising and their increasing political clout in Georgia, the Klan, along with the United Daughters of the Confederacy, were able to influence the ideology of the carving, and they strongly supported an explicitly Confederate memorial. Of the $250,000 raised, part came directly from the Ku Klux Klan but part came from the federal government, which in 1924 issued special fifty cent coins with Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson on them.