Who Is on Mount Rushmore? Behind the Faces of 4 Presidents

Housed in the Black Hills of Keystone, South Dakota, you can find a monument to four U.S. presidents on Mount Rushmore. These presidents were chosen specifically by the sculptor for their contributions to the country. Learn about who is on Mount Rushmore and the controversy surrounding this national monument.

Mount Rushmore monument South Dakota Mount Rushmore monument South Dakota

What Presidents Are on Mount Rushmore?

Have you ever wondered, “Who is on Mount Rushmore?” The answer is pretty simple. The presidents on Mount Rushmore from left to right include George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. At the time, these were the presidents that artist and creator Gutzon Borglum saw as exemplifying the United States. Why? Because these presidents had made some great contributions during their tenure.

George Washington

President George Washington was the first president of the United States and a top commander of the army who helped win the American Revolution. He not only helped in the creation of the country, but he kept the budding government out of the French Revolution. Therefore, Borglum chose Washington to be on the monument because he was one of the country's founders.

Thomas Jefferson

In addition to being the third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson did many things during his lifetime. He wrote the Declaration of Independence and drafted a document for religious freedom. Additionally, he established the West Point military academy and the University of Virginia. As president, Jefferson also created several acts, such as abolishing the international slave trade, to help better the country. However, it was his work to expand the country, which doubled in size during his presidency, that landed his face on Mount Rushmore.

Theodore Roosevelt

Another president to grace Mount Rushmore is the 26th president, Theodore Roosevelt. Known for more than just his trendy monocle, Theodore Roosevelt won a Nobel Prize for Peace and started creating the Panama Canal. He also worked to knock out large corporations from dominating the market. Given his monumental efforts to conserve the country, Roosevelt made the cut.


Abraham Lincoln

The final face masterly sculpted in the granite rocks of Mount Rushmore is that of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president. Abraham Lincoln is most known for his role in helping to abolish slavery in the United States. His most famous legislation was the Emancipation Proclamation. And this is exactly why he was added to the monument. He exemplified a leader that was trying to unify all the people within the country.

The Artist Behind Mount Rushmore

The creator of Mount Rushmore was Danish-American Gutzon Borglum. He established himself in New York as a sculptor before taking on the monumental task of crafting Mount Rushmore. According to the National Park Service (NPS), he was commissioned for the enormous sculpture by the South Dakota government in 1924. Borglum had to invent new sculpting techniques to accomplish the colossal feat of creating faces on the side of a mountain. So, work did not begin on Mount Rushmore until 1927. Borglum continued to work on the carvings until he died in 1941.

What’s Not Finished on Mount Rushmore?

While Mount Rushmore currently showcases the heads of the four famous presidents, they were supposed to have bodies as well. However, Borglum was only able to finish the heads before his death in 1941. In fact, the final details of the sculpture were completed by his son, Lincoln, according to NPS.

Who Is the Fifth Face on Mount Rushmore?

There isn’t actually a fifth face on Mount Rushmore. However, the monument itself is wrapped in controversy because it lies on sacred Sioux land that the United States had given to them during the Treaty of Fort Laramie. However, when gold was discovered in the Black Hills, the government took the land back, causing tensions between the U.S. government and Sioux. Given its controversial history, Mount Rushmore is typically a place for Native American protests. Additionally, a Sioux leader would pose in pictures in front of Mount Rushmore in ceremonial garb for several years.

However, this might also be a reference to Susan B. Anthony. A bill was introduced to Congress in 1936 for Susan B. Anthony’s face to be added to the monument. It was later rejected, according to the National Parks Conservation Association.


Mount Rushmore Facts

It wouldn’t be possible to talk about a national monument without discussing a few facts. Explore some fun facts about the build of Mount Rushmore and its location.

  • A historian created the concept of Mount Rushmore as a way to bring tourists to the state.

  • The name Mount Rushmore came from a New York lawyer, Charles E. Rushmore, in 1884.

  • Over 400 men carved on the monument from 1927-1941.

  • Gold miners, not sculptors, worked on the monument, given their knowledge of dynamite.

  • Jefferson’s face was supposed to be on Washington's right, but the rock was unsuitable, and the partially finished face was demolished.

Who’s on Mount Rushmore?

On the national monument Mount Rushmore, you can find the faces of four well-known presidents. These presidents were famous for founding, expanding, conserving, and unifying the United States. Now that you know a bit about Mount Rushmore, you might want to check out the biography of the Native American warrior Crazy Horse.