Still Cold: Winter does not begin until December 21 but you’d never know it by the last
4weeks. This weekend will be more of the same. We stay cold with mid to upper 30’s on Saturday and low 30’s on Sunday. We’re in the teens and low 20’s through Monday morning then we move to the 40’s for Monday through Wednesday. There may be a little snow on Saturday with some minor accumulation possible though air temperatures may be a few degrees above freezing. As usual, the GFS is more bullish on snow than the NAM but, even the GFS doesn’t put out much.
On This Date in History: You know that you are a pretty big dog when plans for a monument to your life are
begun while you are still alive. This was true of General George Washington. Even before he was the first president, A proposal was made by Congress in 1783 that a memorial be erected. However, the obleisk may even better signify Congressional ineptitude that has been the hallmark of the institution almost since its inception.
General Washington was quite pleased with the original design, which featured the avid horseman on the back of his favorite horse. Money was short though and Congress quibbled about the best way to pay tribute to the father of the country and so the project remained dormant for a time. In 1833, patience had grown short with the upper and lower chambers and so a group of citizens decided to take charge and form the Washington National Monument Society with a mission of raising the appropriate funds and oversee construction. But, even the wheels of the citizen bandwagon turn slow sometimes and a cornerstone was not laid until July 4, 1848. The ceremony was probably the best advertising that the effort had ever received as contributions poured in from banks, organizations and individuals as well as various states. Alabama came up with a commemorative plaque for the interior. Firemen, Indian tribes, social clubs and foreign countries including the Vatican joined in the effort.
Pope Pius IX himself donated a plaque that on March 6, 1854 was stolen from the contruction grounds, allegedly by the American Party, who gained fame as the “Know-Nothings.” Americans who considered themselves as “native” Americans because they were born in the New World, had a not-so-secret oath to vote for only American-born protestants and to oppose the Catholic Church. They held disdain for the waves of immigrants moving in largely from Irish and Germany. These groups of people were mainly Roman Catholic. If they were ever asked about their politics, a member would answer like Sargeant Schultz and say “I know nothing.” In 1855, these Know-Nothings gained control of the monument society and Congress promptly cut the planned $200,000 earmarked for the project. That caused public support to dry up quickly. For the next 3 years, only 4 feet of marble was added and it was such poor quality, those four feet would have to be removed. Work stopped completely during the Civil War and the stub of marble remained as an eyesore in the middle of town.
Advance to the national centennial of 1776 and Congress authorized funds for the completion of the project. But, the
US Army Corps of Engineers took a look and decided that there was no way on God’s Green Earth that the earth would support the weight of the monument. So, it took time and money to dig out nearly 3/4 of the dirt under the project so that concrete foundation footings could be poured. The proposed height of the obelisk was reduced from 600 feet to 555 feet 5 1/8 inches. Work was resumed in 1880 and the project was completed on this date in 1884 and was open to the public in 1888. Due to difficulties in delivering marble and the previous stops and starts, 3 different types of marble was used in construction of the monument, each with different colors and quality, resulting in a distinctively different look as one looks from top to bottom.
Inside, visitors can see 190 commemorative plaques along the staircase, including one from the Vatican. The original was never recovered….they say it rests somewhere in the Potomac River and a replacement took longer to get across the pond than it did to build the monument. The replacement Vatican Plaque took its place among the rest in 1982, 128 years after the Know-Nothings almost brought the entire project to a halt. If they had just followed the desire of General Washington, then it may have been completed long before. He just wanted a horse.