Contribute to the Washington National Monument Society

By 1854 the Washington Monument was about a third complete when the Washington National Monument Society ran out of funds and had to halt construction. John Carroll Brent called upon Americans to support the effort with a donation of funds and appealed to their patriotism with the upcoming Fourth of July celebrations.

The leaflet below was distributed in an attempt to solicit enough money to complete the project.

Leaflet calling for funds to help complete the Washington Monument by John Carroll Brent in 1854 (Library of Congress)
Leaflet calling for funds to help complete the Washington Monument by John Carroll Brent in 1854 (Library of Congress)

They were unsuccessful in their attempt to raise enough money to finish the monument. It would be twenty-five more years until the U.S. Government would take over and fund the remaining two-thirds of the monument. For a quarter of a century, the monument looked like the photo below, a stub of the planned monument.

Washington Monument under construction
Washington Monument under construction

When you look at the monument today, you’ll see that the color of the bottom third is slightly different from the top. When they started construction again, they had to use stone from a different quarry and couldn’t quite match the color.

About Tom

Tom founded Ghosts of DC on January 4th, 2012 as a blog to uncover the lost and untold history of Washington, D.C. He has lived in the city for over a decade and loves exploring every corner of the District.

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  • William Brown

    J. Carroll Brent was one of the Association of Oldest Inhabitants original 31 founders. A group of 31 prominent Washingtonians bet in late November 1865 and on Dec., 7, 1865 at City Hall (now the DC Court of Appeals) established the AOI of DC.

  • Audrey Burtrum-Stanley

    When on a trip to the nation’s capitol, we all wanted to go up the Washington Monument. In 1968, it cost a dime to ride the elevator. The top of the structure swayed in a breeze – ever so slight, but I could feel it. When we decided to leave, instead of the elevator, we took the stairs. It was the perfect choice. As we slowly climbed downward, you could read allllllllllllllll the names of organizations and cities that had donated the funds to sponsor that single stone in the construction. Dozens and dozens of the backside or interior portions of these stones told of the great affection people had for Washington. They contributed various amounts and got the job done!
    Decades have past now and I’ve never returned to the monument. I still recall ‘The Baltimore Fire Department’ had an outstanding, beautiful relief carving design as well as their group’s name as recognition of their contribution.
    There is also a story that the stone for the monument came from a quarry on the First President’s own property; However, they were unable to secure more once they returned to the task of finishing the structure.