The story behind a plaque at Mount Rushmore explaining the history of the United States of America with quite a Christian flavor would probably surprise many people.
President Calvin Coolidge met the artist Gutzon Borglum who prompted him to dedicate the site for a carving of four president’s busts in the 1920’s. Coolidge helped to raise funds and was even present as the cornerstone was laid and said, “We have come here to dedicate a cornerstone laid by the hand of the Almighty. …The union of these four presidents carved on the face of the everlasting Black Hills of South Dakota … will be distinctly American in its conception, in its magnitude, in its meaning.”
Borglum, in turn, asked that Coolidge himself write the inscription that would accompany the portraits on Rushmore. You see he didn’t want a group of heads in a mountain without an explanation. He feared that without an “entablature,” generations in the future wouldn’t understand their importance, much like Stonehenge or the rock faces of Easter Island. The words were supposed to appear writ large right next to the presidents’ heads.
A law was passed partly funding the project and stating that Coolidge would write the inscription that would “endure for 5,000 centuries.”