Monuments to JMC

Series Description

INTRODUCTION

JMC

STATESMAN, HUMANITARIAN, HERO OF THE REPUBLIC

The life of JMC fully substantiates the truth of the popular aphorism “bad times make great men.”  That the times were bad is signified by the wars, economic dislocations, social turbulence, and natural disasters that plagued  the era; that JMC qualifies as a great man is evidenced by his  many accomplishments, all the more remarkable for one of such  humble and obscure origins.

Fortunately, historians today have the benefits of a wealth of detail regarding JMC’s background and early life:  for example, of his birth in a log cabin; of his inability, even as a young man, to tell a lie; of his diligent application to a rigorous physical regimen to strengthen a congenitally weak body; of his scrupulous honesty as suggested by his walking miles to repay a patron the few cents he had mistakenly overcharged her.  

Every evidence suggests that he intended these MONUMENTS TO JMC to outshine those of antiquity.  As far as can be determined from the sketchy historical record (itself encrusted and encumbered with overlays of myth, misstatement, exaggeration, and omission), no Monuments to JMC were initiated after JMC’s death — no doubt because he commissioned them all himself. 

JMC continually denied that vanity motivated his interest in these MONUMENTS TO JMC, insisting, on the one hand, on his own enduring humility and claiming, on the other, that his actions were calculated only to inspire and motivate the public.  Indeed, he maintained that the people unequivocally supported his program of public appropriations for this series of structures.  However, no systematic attempt was made to measure public opinion; in fact, there is some evidence that such efforts were discouraged.

Stylistic evidence suggests that all MONUMENTS TO JMC were the design of a single architect, though that individual’s identity remains unknown.  Since virtually nothing else of JMC’s legacy has survived into the present era, there is no little irony in the fact that his legend lives on primarily through the efforts of the anonymous artist who served him so well.

The present exhibit grows out of the charge to the Bureau of Archaeology to undertake a comprehensive survey of all known MONUMENTS TO JMC. Documentation for the project is centered on photographs of all extant edifices, those both fully preserved and those in varying states of decay.  Photography was selected over other evidentiary media in view of its complete veracity and fidelity to the original structure, for, as is well known, the camera never lies.

Two numbers are given for each MONUMENT TO JMC pictured in this exhibit.  The first is taken from JMC’s personal file; gaps in the sequence are explained by the failure to locate many MONUMENTS TO JMC, despite exhaustive research by Bureau archaeologists.  The second figure is the Archaeological Designation (AD) number assigned by the Bureau in cataloguing these as well as all other structures under its jurisdiction.              

 

R. Wayne Parsons

Exhibition Curator