Great White Fathers
By John Taliaferro
MW 9:00 a.m.
The main idea of the book was obsession. It was an obsession that spanned many lives
and many decades, and wore many names. In South Dakota, it was Doane Robinson, an
historian and avid promoter of the state’s many virtues, along with Peter Norbeck, a native of the
state who rose through the ranks of state government to the United States Senate, who wanted to
bring the bountiful fruits of the tourism industry home. Then, there was the general obsession by
the American people, or at least the wealthy and influential ones, to memorialize every great
person or important event in American history. Finally, there was ...view middle of the document...
Lee in the South. Washington D.C. had been left largely unfinished and now it was
time to finish it as the originators had intended. Many great works were commissioned, with
architecture and sculpture being predominant. Monuments were made to George Washington,
Thomas Jefferson, Lincoln and many others.
reminiscent of ancient Greek structures.
Federal buildings were ornate and often
Cities across America wanted to memorialize
something; battles, important historical figures, even contemporary heroes who still lived.
Thousands upon thousands of dollars were appropriated by the government or spent by wealthy
patrons every year to make these memorials possible, many of which Borglum was a part of.
Now we must look at Borglum himself. He was obsessed with greatness, particularly the
greatness of art. Borglum never let little things like money (or a lack thereof), friendship,
propriety, or common sense get in the way of his art. He often spent his own money on his
projects and actually lost money on some of his best work. He constantly railed against (and
ultimately alienated) the art establishment as being inferior. Borglum was also obsessed...