Spotlight on History: Coin helps fund Confederate memorial
Saturday, August 11, 2012
By DAVID HUDGINS
Special to the Daily Light
EDITOR’S NOTE: In commemoration of the sesquicentennial of the American Civil War, Waxahachie resident and amateur historian David Hudgins has written a series of columns of historical facts relating to the War Between the States.
Stone Mountain is located just outside of Atlanta, Ga., near the small town named Stone Mountain. The mountain is one solid rock about a mile across. Due to its size and visibility, it can be seen from a great distance.
Soapstone bowls and dishes have been made from the mountain for more than 10,000 years.
On the north side of the mountain/park is a Confederate memorial carving that depicts three Southern heroes – President Jefferson Davis and Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson – whose figures measure 90 feet by 190 feet and is recessed into the mountain.
Work began on the carving in 1915, but it was not completed until 1972.
In 1909, C. Helen Plane of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, a widow whose husband had been killed in the war, had the idea to have a memorial to General Lee and the Confederacy and the men that fought for the South.
Gutzon Borglum was hired as the sculptor in 1915. He is best known for his work on Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. Work did not start until 1923 due to funding and World War I. He was given $250,000 and a three-year time limit to complete the project.
The head of General Lee was unveiled on Jan. 19, 1924, for his birthday. A funding dispute with the association in 1925 caused Borglum to abandon the project.
Augustus Lukeman was hired to complete the project.
Also in 1925, the Confederate half dollar, which is a legal U.S. coin, was minted and sold for $1 with 50 cents going to help fund the project.
The front of the coin depicts Generals Lee and Jackson on their horses and 13 stars above their heads. 1925 is stamped on the face of the coin. The back of the coin shows a large eagle. And the coin is still legal to use and can be purchased at most coin companies. The price depends on the condition of the coin but can range from $30-$200.
In 1928, the lease for the side of the mountain ran out and the owner refused to extend the lease. Lukeman passed away in 1935 and then with World War II the project was put on hold.
In 1958 the state of Georgia purchased the mountain, but it was not until 1963 that Walter Hancock was selected to complete the carving.
Work again started on the memorial in 1964 and a park plan was put into action with campgrounds, parking lots, parking lots, gristmill complex and other facilities.
Vice President Spiro Agnew dedicated the carving on May 9, 1970 and finishing touches were completed in 1972.
In 2004 the Confederate Hall Historical and Environmental Education Center was renovated to house more exhibits and classrooms.
There is now a skylift that goes to the top of the mountain, gift shops and restaurants.
I have purchased several of the Confederate coins and have them to show and tell people, “Yes, there are Confederate Coins.”