The Grant Monument, popularly known today as Grant's Tomb, was comparable in sheer size and costliness to only two other memorials erected in 19th-century America-the Washington Monument and the Statue of Liberty. When General Grant died in the summer of 1885 it was anticipated that a shaft of some kind would be built over his grave. This had been the usual choice for the nation's major memorials in the post-Civil War period. The issue was widely debated and other suggestions were advanced. In an official competition for the monument in 1888/1889 a shaft was selected. The results of the competition were subsequently set aside and John Hemenway Duncan's very different proposal for a classical mausoleum was chosen in a second, decisive competition in 1890 (Fig. 1). The Grant Monument thus became the most significant of a growing number of memorials to be modeled after classical sources, indicating in part the development of more sophisticated architectural tastes, as well as the rising sense of nationalism in the last decades of the 19th century. Within this framework, classical monuments, with their aura of ancient glory, seemed to express forcefully and didactically the importance of the nation's heroes and the grandeur of its history.
- Copyright 1982 The Society of Architectural Historians