The Lieutenant Colonel of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that oversaw the completion of the Washington Monument was born today in 1831. Now WE know em


Thomas Lincoln Casey was born May 10, 1831 in Sackets Harbor, New York.

Casey graduated first in his class from West Point in 1852 and was assigned to the Corps of Engineers.

He taught engineering at West Point from 1854 to 1859.

During the American Civil War he oversaw construction and improvements to coastal fortifications in Maine, completing the massive Fort Knox on the Penobscot River as well as work on Fort Preble, Fort Scammel and Fort Gorges near Portland.

In 1877, Casey was promoted to head the Office of Public Buildings and Grounds, District of Columbia.

He had design responsibility for the State, War, and Navy Building, which is now the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

Washington Monument

Construction of the Washington Monument began in 1848, but was halted in 1854.

The hiatus in construction happened due to resistance from the Know Nothing party, a lack of funds, and the intervention of the American Civil War.


After the Civil War both the Washington National Monument Society and Congress held discussions about how the monument should be finished as Congress ordered work on the obelisk to continue.

Construction resumed in 1879 under the direction of Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Lincoln Casey of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Casey redesigned the foundation, strengthening it so it could support a structure that ultimately weighed more than 40,000 tons.

He then followed the society’s orders and figured out what to do with the commemorative stones that had accumulated. Though many people ridiculed them, Casey managed to install most of the stones in the interior walls — one stone was found at the bottom of the elevator shaft in 1951.

One difficulty that is visible to this day is that the builders were unable to find the same quarry stone used in the initial construction, and as a result, the bottom third of the monument is a slightly lighter shade than the rest of the construction.

The building of the monument proceeded quickly under Casey and was completed four years later.

The 100 ounce aluminum apex/lightning-rod was put in place on December 6, 1884.

The apex was the largest single piece of aluminum cast at the time, when aluminum commanded a price comparable to silver.


Workers set the capstone on top of the Washington Monument, Dec. 6, 1884. Engineer Gen. Thomas L. Casey, in derby hat, oversees the work. (AP Photo)

Workers set the capstone on top of the Washington Monument, Dec. 6, 1884. Engineer Gen. Thomas L. Casey, in derby hat, oversees the work. (AP Photo)

The Washington Monument was dedicated on February 21, 1885. Over 800 people attended to hear speeches by Ohio Senator John Sherman, William Wilson Corcoran (of the Washington National Monument Society), U.S. President Chester Arthur and Thomas Lincoln Casey.

After Casey’s speech, General William Tecumseh Sherman led a procession, which included the dignitaries and the crowd, to the east main entrance of the Capitol building, where President Arthur received passing troops.

Then, in the House Chamber, the president, his Cabinet, diplomats and others listened to Representative John Davis Long read a speech given 37 years earlier at the laying of the cornerstone.

At the time of its completion, it was the tallest building in the world, and it remains the tallest stone structure in the world.


Then on July 6, 1888, Casey was promoted to brigadier general serving as Chief of Engineers for the United States Corps of Engineers with responsibility for all military engineers, equipment, and fortifications.

The Washington Monument opened to the public on October 9, 1888.

Casey retired from the Army on May 10, 1895 having reached the mandatory retirement age of 64.

He then worked on the design of the Thomas Jefferson Building, which houses the Library of Congress; it was nearly completed when he died suddenly on March 25, 1896. Upon his death, responsibility for the project passed to his son, architect Edward Pearce Casey.

Thomas Lincoln Casey was buried with his father and other family members at the Casey Farm in Rhode Island.

Now WE know em





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