Margaret Franson, Heath Carter
Christ College Honors Thesis
The Mount Rushmore National Memorial stands in the Black Hills of South Dakota as a symbol of American greatness. However, the public perceptions of the greatness represented in this memorial do not take into consideration the ideals held by the three main contributors to the development of the mountain, Doane Robinson, Peter Norbeck, and Gutzon Borglum. An exploration into the lives and beliefs of these three men reveals that they possessed a specific definition of America greatness exemplified in the white male farmer of the American West. The four former presidents selected for carving symbolize a general American greatness, but more importantly they epitomize the specific version of greatness championed by the planners of the memorial. Yet, from the earliest perceptions of Mt. Rushmore, the public saw only the representation of a general American greatness that included all members of the nation and eventually the entire world. Visitors to Mount Rushmore do not see the specific ideas of American greatness intended by the planners of the memorial and these ideas of American greatness are now dead.
Rollins, Caleb, "Mount Rushmore: A Tomb for Dead Ideas of American Greatness" (2015). Symposium on Undergraduate Research and Creative Expression (SOURCE). 426.