In 1934, Gutzon Borglum schemed that a nationwide contest would be a good way to draw attention to his work at Rushmore. With Hearst newspapers, he announced a contest: entrants were asked to write an inscription to be carved in stone on Mount Rushmore, explaining the monument by summarizing the history of the United States in 500 words. Though the inscription never made it onto the mountain, the contest generated plenty of publicity for Borglum's project -- and produced a few lucky winners.
This submission, by John Edward Bradley, won the overall prize, and was printed in the Chicago Examiner on February 22, 1935.
Forging of a Nation
May this mountain be forever inscribed with history of the people of the great nation reaching from ocean to ocean, from Great Lakes to Gulf and founded on the principle that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is the right of all mankind. It had its beginning in thirteen original states on the East Coast in 1776 when the people by the Declaration of Independence written by Thomas Jefferson freed themselves from all allegiance to the tyranny of the British crown.
Electing for their first president George Washington, the beloved leader in their struggle for freedom, these liberated people adopted in 1789 a constitution to perpetuate the fundamental principles of liberty in their government. The lasting happiness and industry of the people and the enduring stability of the Union bore witness to the wisdom of this Constitution.
In 1803 these United States under President Thomas Jefferson, having grown westward to the Mississippi River, purchased from France the Louisiana territory which proved rich in the natural resources and farming lands so essential to the welfare of humanity and justified the bargain many times over. The young republic now occupied all the land drained by the great river and extending to the Rocky Mountains.
The Peninsula of Florida was bought from Spain in 1819, thus settling the boundary disputes in the Southeast. Florida added beautiful semitropical lands to the Union.
The people of the Republic of Texas, the region reaching southwest to the Rio Grande River, had won their freedom from Mexico in 1836, but being Angle-Americans and in sympathy with the ideals of the United States government, were in 1845 granted the wish that they be admitted to the union.
The disputed boundary of the Oregon territory of the Northwest was placed at the forty-ninth parallel by agreement in 1846 with Great Britain. Oregon belonged to the Union by exploration and settlement.
California, with her lofty mountains and broad sunlit valleys, became a territory of the nation in 1818 by treaty with Mexico. When was found there, California became with Oregon the goal of pioneer settlers from all over the country. First the covered wagons of the pioneers and soon the railroad carried the spirit of liberty westward to the Pacific Ocean.
The Union had withstood the acid test of its strength and permanence when it was threatened with destruction by internal strife in 1861-1865. Abraham Lincoln rose from among the people and led them through the crisis.
Alaska, that wide Northwest peninsula so rich in gold and furs, was purchased from Russia in 1867, bringing to the Union another great store of natural resources.
Under the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt in 1904 the United States began work on a canal across the isthmus of Panama. This gigantic engineering feat reached completion in 1914, realizing a dream of four hundred years in the connecting of the oceans. No longer were the maritime nations of the world forced to take the hazardous voyage around the Horn.
The opening of the Panama Canal found these United States: Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Virginia, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Vermont, Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, Louisiana, Indiana, Mississippi, Illinois, Alabama, Maine, Missouri, Arkansas, Michigan, Florida, Texas Iowa, Wisconsin, California, Minnesota, Oregon, Kansas, West Virginia, Nevada, Nebraska, Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona and the Territory of Alaska, blessed by natural advantages, great in commerce, agriculture and industry, marching onward to the glorious promise of the years to come.
The journey of Prince Maximilian, German naturalist, and artist Karl Bodmer, who explored the Mississippi River area from 1832-1834.
A personal story of one family's dramatic effort to hold onto their family farm in Iowa as massive foreclosures sweep the nation in the 1990s.
In 1927, the Mississippi River flooded from New Orleans to Illinois, leaving a million people homeless and leading to a major black migration to the North.
John Wesley Powell's epic journey into the unknown Grand Canyon was filled with adventure as his team mapped the Colorado River for the first time.
The contradictory history of a dam that became a statement of American power and prestige.
The American effort to relieve starvation in Soviet Russia in 1921 during the worst natural disaster in Europe in 500 years.
The story of the farmers who dreamed of prosperity and lived through ten years of drought, dust, disease and death.
In 1934, American polar explorer Richard Byrd became the first to experience winter in Antarctica's interior.