Editorial by Hon. John Temple Graves, Editor of the New York American

Published in the Atlanta Georgian, 14 June 1914.

Graves' compelling essay played a central role in building support for the carving after Plane had introduced the idea casually 1909 and before she took the first official step (asking Gutzon Borglum to serve as chief sculptor) in 1915. Like the present Park managers, Graves praises the mountain's natural beauty. Unlike the present managers, however, who emphasize the Park's natural beauty at the expense of the carving (e.g., the official motto, "Preserving and Enhancing a Natural Legacy"), Graves subordinates his awe for the natural beauty to his devotion to the Confederate cause. He is determined to use Stone Mountain's natural beauty to honor the Confederate dead, not to compete with them for the public's attention.
To the veterans of the dead Confederacy, to the daughters and sons, and to all who revere the memories of that historic and immortal struggle, I bring today the suggestion of a great memorial, perfectly simple, perfectly feasible, and which if realized will give to the Confederate soldier and his memories the most majestic monument, set in the most magnificent frame in all the world. Just now, while the loyal devotion of this great people of the South is considering a general and enduring monument to the great cause 'fought without shame and lost without dishonor,' it seems to me that nature and Providence have set the immortal shrine right at our doors.

I will not build up the proposition. I will state it briefly--bluntly--directly. It will speak for itself--more eloquently than words can speak.

Stone Mountain is distinctly one of the wonders of the world. Its glories have never been fully appreciated or utilized by the people who see it every day. It is a mountain of solid granite one mile from its summit to its base. Much of Atlanta has been builded from it, and there is enough left to build ten more Atlantas without touching the lofty spot that is nearest to the sun.

On the steep side of Stone Mountain, facing northward, there is a sheer declivity that rises or falls from 900 to 1, 000 feet.

Here, then, is Nature's matchless plan for a memorial. On this steep side let those who love the Southern dead combine to have the engineers cut a projection 30 feet wide and 100 feet deep. Into this projection and as high as it may be made, let us ask Lorado Taft, the republic's great sculptor, to chisel an heroic statue, 70 feet high, of the Confederate soldier in the nearest possible resemblance to Robert E. Lee. Let him chisel also the insignia of the Confederate uniform, of which the gray stone is the natural base.

And there--twelve hundred feet above the plain, let us place the old gray granite hat upon that noble head, with its grand eyes turned toward Atlanta--Phoebus and Phoenix--holocaust and miracle of the Civil War--and from this godlike eminence let our Confederate hero calmly look history and the future in the face!

Shut your eyes and think of it. It will grow upon you until the glow and glory of the idea will keep you awake at night, as it did with Forrest Adair and General Andrew West, to whom I first confided it.

There will be no monument in all the world like this, our monument to the Confederate dead. None so majestic, none so magnificently framed, and none that will more powerfully attract the interest and admiration of those who have a soul.

The Lion of Lucerne, carved upon the mountain rock, commemorating the courage of the Swiss Guard and attracting the attention of visitors all over the world, lies couchant five hundred feet lower than our Confederate soldier's feet. Every traveler to Egypt from Herodotus through the Roman Caesar, the French Napoleon and the English Gladstone to the American Roosevelt has stood in awe beside the silent Sphinx--massive and solemn--cut from stone, and now remaining as a monument to a departed civilization. In far away India, a thousand miles northeastward from Bombay and as far westward from Calcutta, thousands go yearly to the little city of Agra to gaze upon the Taj Mahal, the world's masterpiece of architecture. Rome is famous for the Coliseum, Milan for its great Cathedral, Versailles for the Palace, Cairo for the Pyramids, Delhi for its Kutab-Minar, Rangood for its Pagoda, and Kamakura for the bronze statue of the Buddha.

And so, with this heroic statue to Robert Lee, the flower and incarnation of the Southern soldier, and all for which he stood, chiseled by an American architect into the towering crest of the most remarkable mountain of solid granite in the world, the little town of Stone Mountain, nestling modestly upon the outer garments of the Capital of Georgia, will hold henceforth an object of artistic, romantic and sentimental interest unique among the wonders of the age.




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