Washington Monument Completed

Washington Monument Completed

The Feb. 21, 1885, issue of The National Republican. (Newseum collection)

On Dec. 6, 1884, after 36 years of delays and interruptions caused by politics, a lack of funds and the Civil War, the Washington Monument in the nation’s capital was finally completed.

The idea for a monument dedicated to George Washington began with a congressional resolution in 1783 to honor the nation’s first president with an equestrian statue.  The Feb. 21, 1885, issue of The National Republican announced the dedication of the monument and recalled its long, complicated history, which at one point included the burial of Washington’s body under the proposed marble monument.

“The inception of the Washington monument dates from a resolution adopted Aug. 7, 1783, just after the ending of the war of the revolution. This resolution provided ‘that an equestrian statue of Gen. Washington be erected at the place where the residence of congress shall be established in honor of Gen. Washington, the illustrious commander-in-chief of the armies of the United States of America during the war which vindicated and secured their liberty, sovereignty, and independence.’ … As the years went by Washington, on the 14th of December, 1799, then the lieutenant general of the army of the United States, died at Mount Vernon, and the nation again awoke to a sense of its neglect.”

In 2011, the Washington Monument suffered structural damage during an earthquake in nearby Virginia. It closed for 32 months for repairs and reopened in 2014.

The original copy of The National Republican can be viewed in the Newseum’s News Corporation News History Gallery.

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