While constructing monuments to Washington in the 18th and 19th centuries, hundreds of designs were proposed. Most designs were outlandish and unrealistic. For example, one proposed design for the Virginia Washington Monument was "An obelisk ornamented with regularly spaced statues of the all the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Atop this was to be a statue of Washington, his back to Great Britain, a sword in his hand, and an American eagle on his head" (Dimmick, 1991, p. 6). Another potential design for the same monument was "A stack of three pyramids, each seventy feet tall, divided wedding cake-style by Corinthian columns. A bronze statue of Washington, sporting a Phyrgian cap, was to crown the pile...The uppermost chamber was to contain a genius of Liberty...while a lion, mouth wide open, rushed ominously toward her. Between them was to stand the Father of Our Country, beating back the lion while endeavoring to keep the genius from leaving." In addition to the bizarre quality of these designs, they were often incredibly expensive (some up to 5 million dollars adjusted for inflation) and would have taken over a hundred years to build.
In addition to the many ridiculous designs submitted for monuments across the country, debate raged over how to portray Washington. Should a gothic style be used? Should Washington be riding or horse or be in a different position? Architects protested designs and debates went on for years in various states.
It is crucial to look at these designs and the fanfare surrounding them because it demonstrates how passionate these people were about memorializing Washington; essentially their 'monument mania.' Even before his death, memorializing Washington was a key priority of the new country and in 1782 congress even passed a resolution calling for "a bronze equestrian statue of the general 'to be erected at the place where Congress shall be established.'"
In addition, these designs demonstrate the importance of monuments. As demonstrated by the fanfare surrounding all of these designs, monuments were, and continue to be, an important way of remembering someone and their legacy. It was, and still is, a way to glorify our heroes. In the case of George Washington, the clear objective of these monuments was to preserve the legacy of Washington in a positive way. As a result of this, the narratives of many other people were left out of these monuments, particularly the people that Washington owned.