The first public memorial to Abraham Lincoln in Washington D.C. was a statue by Lot Flannery erected in front of the District of Columbia City Hall in 1868, three years after Lincoln's assassination. Demands for a fitting national memorial had been voiced since the time of Lincoln's death. In 1867, the Congress passed the first of many bills incorporating a commission to erect a monument for the sixteenth president. An American sculptor, Clark Mills, was chosen to design the monument. His plans reflected the nationalistic spirit of the time, and called for a 70-foot (21 m) structure adorned with six equestrian and 31 pedestrian statues of colossal proportions, crowned by a 12-foot (3.7 m) statue of Abraham Lincoln. Subscriptions for the project were insufficient.
The matter lay dormant until the start of the 20th century, when, under the leadership of Senator Shelby M. Cullom of Illinois, six separate bills were introduced in Congress for the incorporation of a new memorial commission. The first five bills, proposed in the years 1901, 1902, and 1908, met with defeat because of opposition from Speaker Joe Cannon. The sixth bill (Senate Bill 9449), introduced on December 13, 1910, passed. The Lincoln Memorial Commission had its first meeting the following year and formerU.S. President William H. Taft was chosen as the commission's president. Progress continued at a steady pace and by 1913 Congress had approved of the Commission's choice of design and location.
The Lincoln Memorial construction took place between 1914 and 1922. Work crews had completed most of the memorial architectural elements by April 1917 when the United States entered into the First World War, but work slowed as a result. Steady progress nonetheless was maintained on the interior decorations, granite terrace, approach plaza, and grounds landscaping.
From the chamber of the memorial, one can appreciate the different stones used in its construction. The terrace walls and lower steps comprise granite blocks from Massachusetts - the upper steps, outside façade, and columns contain marble blocks from Colorado - the interior walls and columns are Indiana limestone - the floor is pink Tennessee marble - the ceiling tiles are Alabama marble – and the Lincoln statue comprises 28 pieces of Georgia marble. These building materials may seem random, but Henry Bacon specifically chose each one to tell a very specific story. A country torn apart by war can come together, not only to build something beautiful, but also explain the reunification of the states.
With the completion of the Lincoln Memorial in 1922, the east/west vista of the National Mall nearly was complete. The Reflecting Pool would be finished shortly thereafter and the visual connection between the Father of the Country and the Savior of the Country would be fulfilled.