DC Tours Thomas Jefferson Memorial
Updated: Apr 14
DC Tours Thomas Jefferson Memorial
Dedicated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on Thomas Jefferson’s 200th birthday, the Thomas Jefferson Memorial is a must-see national monument. At DC Tours, we make sure you get the chance to visit our capital’s best attractions. Travel in comfort while our experienced guides let you in on history and hidden secrets of Washington DC’s most treasured sites. Book your tour today.
Thomas Jefferson Memorial Facts and Initial Building
In 1934, FDR Roosevelt personally requested a monument honoring Thomas Jefferson. FDR had always been an admirer of the third president, and was determined to construct a memorial to commemorate the iconic American figure. Along with New York Congressman John J. Boylan, FDR convinced Congress to set aside $3 million for the Thomas Jefferson monument.
The project faced problems from the beginning. Constructing a building in the proposed location, the Tidal Basin, directly contradicted architect Pierre L’Enfant’s original DC layout. The Commission of Fine Arts was especially opposed to this plan and published a pamphlet railing against it. Local DC activists also protested the monument’s site, which would endanger a famous cherry tree grove. The “Cherry Tree Rebellion” took place in 1938, when several women chained themselves to trees to halt construction. The onset of US involvement in World War II in 1941 also limited available building materials. Due to wartime restrictions on metal, the first statue of Jefferson for the monument was made of plaster.
The Jefferson memorial was fully built and dedicated in 1943.
Inside the Jefferson Memorial
Inside the circular open-air structure stands a 19-foot tall bronze statue of Thomas Jefferson, holding a copy of the Declaration of Independence in his left hand. Surrounding the statue are ionic columns and quotes engraved into white Georgia marble. The Thomas Jefferson memorial quotes are taken from his letters, the Declaration of Independence, and various publications throughout his life. The quote “I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man” runs along the interior of the building.
Jefferson Memorial Fun Facts
· There was initially doubts around whether or not Jefferson would even want a monument. On his list of accomplishments on his tombstone, the Founding Father neglected to mention that he had even served as President.
· The initial plaster statue was painted to look bronze for the 1943 dedication ceremony. It was replaced with the current bronze statue four years later.
· Some people (including members of the National Park Service) say that Jefferson isn’t looking out at the White House, standing watch over the nation he helped found. Instead, he’s glaring a little to the east – right at the US Treasury Building’s statue of Alexander Hamilton.
· The neoclassical style wasn’t chosen randomly. The building is modeled off the architecture of Monticello and the University of Virginia rotunda, which Jefferson designed himself.
· Because the monument is built on what is essentially swampland, the columns and steps shift and dip as the building settles. The front plaza, which is not supported by subterranean pilings, had sunk as much as three feet by the 1960s. At one point, the steps were moving so often the National Park Service was forced to keep a special tool on-site to constantly realign them.
At DC Tours, we focus on providing an experience that is fun, educational, and enjoyable for the whole family. Our riders are given plenty of time to disembark, explore the Thomas Jefferson memorial, take pictures, and learn Jefferson Memorial facts from our knowledgeable guides. Visit this beautiful monument during our daily bus tours, or while its illuminated after dark with our new DC by Moonlight Tour. Contact us today to book your trip.