The Thomas Jefferson Memorial is a presidential memorial in Washington, D.C. dedicated to Thomas Jefferson, an American Founding Father and the third President of the United States. The neoclassical building was designed by the architect John Russell Pope and built by the Philadelphia contractor John McShain. Construction of the building began in 1939 and was completed in 1943. The bronze statue of Jefferson was added in 1947.
The Jefferson Memorial is managed by the National Park Service under its National Mall and Memorial Parks division.
Composed of circular marble steps, a portico, a circular colonnade of Ionic order columns, and a shallow dome, the building is open to the elements. Pope made references to the Roman Pantheon and Jefferson’s own design for the Rotunda at the University of Virginia. It is situated in West Potomac Park, on the shore of the Tidal Basin of the Potomac River. The Jefferson Memorial, and the White House located directly north, form one of the main anchor points in the area of the National Mall in D.C. The Washington Monument, just east of the axis on the national Mall, was intended to be located at the intersection of the White House and the site for the Jefferson Memorial to the south, but soft swampy ground which defied 19th century engineering required it be sited to the east.
The pedimental sculpture group is titled Drafting the Declaration of Independence, and was carved by Adolph Alexander Weinman.
The interior of the memorial has a 19-foot (5.8 m) tall, 10,000 lb (4336 kg) bronze statue of Jefferson by sculptor Rudulph Evans showing Jefferson looking out toward the White House, where he once lived. This statue was added four years after the dedication. Most prominent are the words which are inscribed in a frieze below the dome: "I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man." This sentence is taken from a September 23, 1800, letter by Jefferson to Dr. Benjamin Rush.
On the panel of the southwest interior wall are excerpts from the Declaration of Independence, written in 1776.
On the panel of the northwest interior wall is an excerpt from "A Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom, 1777", except for the last sentence, which is taken from a letter of August 28, 1789, to James Madison.
The quotes from the panel of the northeast interior wall are from multiple sources. The first sentence, beginning "God who gave…", is from "A Summary View of the Rights of British America". The second, third and fourth sentences are from Notes on the State of Virginia. The fifth sentence, beginning "Nothing is more…", is from Jefferson’s autobiography. The sixth sentence, beginning "Establish the law…", is from an August 13, 1790, letter to George Wythe. The final sentence is from a letter of January 4, 1786, to George Washington.
The inscription on the panel of the southeast interior wall is redacted and excerpted from a letter July 12, 1816, to Samuel Kercheval.