On this day 150 years ago, the U.S. Congress commissioned the Lincoln Memorial statue. Originally it was conceived as a monument to Union victory and the abolition of slavery–and would have placed Lincoln atop a tower made up of grateful freedmen as well as abolitionists, and Union generals. But, when Congress approved a memorial in 1911, an entirely different set of values dictated the project. Lincoln represented union–not victory. Its frieze would feature the names of every state, north and south. (1867)
The winning architect Charles McKim, argued that every effort should be made to make the man transcend his worldly origins – thus the Greek temple design. (Photo by Jason-OX4 – CC)
MORE Good News on this Date:
- The Republic of Switzerland was established (1798)
- The Knights of Columbus was founded by a Catholic priest to encourage benevolence and racial tolerance among its members (1882)
- Eric Idle, member of the groundbreaking Monty Python comedy troupe and author of the hit Broadway musical Spamalot, was born (1943)
- Turkey (a nation of Muslims) officially recognized Israel (1949)
- Residents of Washington, D.C. were finally given the right to vote in United States presidential elections, with the adoption of the Twenty-third Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (1961)
- Vietnam began celebrating Veterans’ Day (1973)
- Beatles records officially went on sale in the Soviet Union (1986)
- Serbs & Croats signed a cease-fire to end the war in Croatia (1994)
- 35 countries and over 370 cities shut off lights during Earth Hour for the first time (2008)
- Marriage became legal for gay couples in England and Wales (2014)
Also on this day, in 1795, German pianist Ludwig van Beethoven debuted at the age 24 in Vienna. He surpassed his pianist father to become a virtuoso and one of the most influential composers of all time. He started going deaf several years later and by his mid-40s could hear almost nothing, yet still composed some of his greatest works. He had not performed for 13 years, until he conducted the premiere of his Ninth Symphony. They had to turn him around to see the tumultuous applause of the audience because he could hear neither it nor the orchestra.
The masterpiece Ninth Symphony, his final one, also became known as “the Choral Symphony,” because it was the first to use voices– singing the verses of a poem, “Ode to Joy” by Friedrich Schiller, with additions by Beethoven. Three years after the premiere, he died at the age of 56 in Vienna. Franz Schubert, who died the following year and was buried next to Beethoven, was one of the torchbearers.