Q. David Bowers
The following is excerpted from an undated letter to a Mr. Johnson from Gutzon Borglum. Borglum noted that since leaving Stone Mountain he had been traveling around the country. Further: "I have seen that the Stone Mountain Executive Committee's act of February 25, 1925 is settling like a new wrong upon the soul of the South and will leave an indelible wound. In the history of the world of art there is no crime against creative effort comparable to the committee's vandalism. After leaving Atlanta I remained in the South near the Memorial to prevent and if necessary help correct misunderstanding and protect permanent work that might be endangered and make here the complete designs and models of the Confederate Memorial"
Borglum went on to say that the committee had violated the intent of law and usurped and exceeded its authority. In addition, without warning, the committee violated all covenants, customs, and justice-and had seized his personal effects, private papers, and work tools. All of the sculptor's personal correspondence was rifled by the committee or its agents. The committee prevented Borglum from entry to his property and his studio, access to his machinery, and to the work to which he had given much of his life. Its agents hounded him with the mob they had organized, "hunting me and my superintendents through several states with warrants and manacles, calling me a 'fugitive from justice.' I was going where I could get justice-I have never fled from it."
Borglum charged that the committee had defaulted in payments, had broken the contract, and then had taken the extraordinary step of appropriating $25,000 to establish a press bureau for its own publicity, to invent slander and libel with the avowed purpose of wrecking his character. "About these venomous and unjust charges I have just felt as did Scipio, when brought before the Roman Senate. He said in part, 'To those who have not measured the value of a life of disinterested public service without remuneration, I have no interest to those who have, I need not explain.' The committee's purpose in making these false and slanderous statements explains why the offers of nine different civic organizations about the country, who tendered their good offices to analyze the differences (and which were all promptly accepted by us) were refused. A disinterested jury must be allowed to examine the records in connection with the charges. I should say here that there is no foundation of fact for a single one of the charges they have made in their tons of printed slander .... "
In 1925 Robert M. Falkenau, industrial and financial counselor, 30 East 42nd Street, New York, published a 31-page booklet titled Audit of Accounts of Gutzon Borglum, Sculptor, U.S.A., with Stone Mountain Confederate Monumental Association, Atlanta, Georgia, November 22,1924. A foreword by Borglum stated that he had ordered the following audit at great personal expense. The figures showed that Borglum had contracted to do the Central Group for $250,000, divided into $80,000 for designs and models, $30,000 for machinery, equipment and supplies, $110,000 for roughing out, and $30,000 for finish carving. By November 21, 1924, designs and models were 90% complete, making $ 72,000 due under this part of the contract. Other calculations showed that the total amount due Borglum as of November 1, 1924 amounted to $124,500, but very little had actually been paid to him. In fact, up to February 25, 1925, when the work was stopped, the amount actually paid the sculptor was stated as being only $34,674.00.
Augustus H. Lukeman's work on the Stone Mountain Memorial progressed well for a short period, after which several major problems arose. First and foremost, an audit of the accounts of the Stone Mountain Confederate Monumental Association revealed that its president, Hollins N. Randolph, had indeed converted large sums of public donations and coin sales proceeds to his personal use. The Atlanta chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy published a brochure, circa 1927, titled Atlanta Chapter U.D. C. States its Position on Stone Mountain, which according to the introduction was "intended to reveal some of the false premises on which the great Stone Mountain project in its original form was destroyed, causing the waste of from a quarter to half million dollars. There is no space in the pamphlet to refute all of the pernicious untruths with which the country was flooded on the dismissal of the former sculptor. We have, however, investigated all of the charges made at that time."
The introduction went on to note that sworn affidavits, copies of correspondence, etc., were submitted as proof which "will be sufficient to prove to the public that the Stone Mountain debacle was the result of vandalism pure and simple. It is no longer necessary to defend Gutzon Borglum-time and the course of events have vindicated him."
Itemized commentaries were made concerning the charges against Borglum, with a refutation of each. The brochure noted that, while Borglum had been accused by his detractors for turning the work over to his subordinates after carving the head of General Lee, it was stated that "immediatelyupon delivery of his models, Lukeman turned over the work to his subordinates .... From April 1925, the date of his employment, to December 1926 (18 months), Lukeman remained away from Stone Mountain almost continuously."
The UDC went on to charge that Hollins N. Randolph was using Stone Mountain as a vehicle of personal exploitation, a direct violation of the original intention that the money received from the Stone Mountain coins "should be used exclusively in carving the mountain." Randolph had defied the will' of those who had given donations to the project and who had planned the orderly sale of the coins. "Mr. Randolph has sold the coins wherever he pleased, when he pleased, to whomever he pleased, at what price he pleased .... The monument he is building is smaller and entirely different from the one endorsed and subscribed to by the people of the United States, whose funds he has squandered and misspent."
Borglum's Work vs. Lukeman's
An undated, unattributed newspaper clipping of the era stated that in Borglum's plans Robert E. Lee "was the supremely commanding figure" in the Stone Mountain Memorial group, but under Lukeman's concept the sculpted figure of Lee had been subordinated by that of Jefferson Davis and, further, "the figure of Stonewall Jackson in the new version is thoroughly unsatisfactory."
An article in the New York Herald Tribune, October 1, 1928, reported that Samuel H. Venable stated that the Stone Mountain Memorial had "developed into the most colossal failure in history." Venable reviewed the history of the Association and compared the work of Borglum, the discharged sculptor, with the present sculptor, Lukeman, and noted: "After collecting and spending the stupendous sum of $1,195,845.18 the Association is today in debt in the sum of more than $525,000. The $189,000 given for the $1,000 tablets and the $35,019.91 contributed for the Children's Founders Roll have been spent for overhead expenses and carving. So completely is the Association without funds it was unable to pay the Stone Mountain Granite Corporation for the last carving done by it .... "
Further: "Mr. Lukeman in 40 months has completed his model and cut the bust of General Lee at a cost of $1,421,665 to the Association. Mr. Borglum's head of General Lee everyone recognized. Mr. Lukeman's head of General Lee is unrecognizable. The nose is crooked, the left arm looks withered and paralyzed, the hilt of his sword is gone, and the stirrup of the saddle is broken off. The money is all gone, and Lukeman's carving of General Lee is a mutilated imperfection that cannot be rectified.