Mount Rushmore National Memorial

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Updated: Mar 28, 2022
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The heads of Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln are forever sculpted in stone at the Mount Rushmore National Memorial. The likeness of each former president was sculpted by Gutzon Borglum. Borglum chose each man to represent a different facet of U.S. culture. (National Park Service [NPS], 2018). Washington is best known as the First President of the United States. For this reason, it seems fitting that he is included on this memorial. Washington was also instrumental in winning the revolutionary war and helping to provide framework for the new country.

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Borglum chose Washington for the memorial to signify the birth of the U.S. (NPS, 2018) Jefferson is likely the least well known of the presidents on the monument. Jefferson was the Third President of the United States. In addition to this Jefferson wrote much of the declaration of independence, and enormously expanded the size of the U.S. via the Louisiana Purchase. Borglum picked Jefferson to represent U.S. growth. (NPS, 2018) Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States is known for his military service, leading the Rough Riders, during the Spanish-American War. During his time as president, the U.S. saw a major economic boom with the beginning of the 20th century. During his tenure as president, Roosevelt is remembered for his work in eliminating corporate monopolies as well as for making the deal to build the Panama Canal which greatly aided commerce. Borglum intended Roosevelt to signify U.S. development. (NPS, 2018) The last of the presidents featured on the monument is Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln is best known for seeing the United States through the Civil War, and ending the idea of Southern cessation.

Through the darkest time in U.S. history, Lincoln clung to American values to ensure that the country would pull through and recover. Borglum uses Lincoln to signify preservation of the U.S. (NPS, 2018) The men featured on Mount Rushmore are undoubtedly great contributors to the culture, politics, way of life, and policy of the united states. Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln effected public sector change that shaped the landscape of the United States. But what about the private sector? What about the enterprising individuals and business innovators who have also made great contributions that have shaped the U.S. If a monument were to be constructed of United States business figures to mirror Mount Rushmore who would fill the role of each president? Could a business figure be chosen to represent each the birth, growth, development, and preservation in their contributions to commerce, culture, and the American way of life? A business figure that represents birth in the U.S. is Sam Walton. Frustrated by a franchising agreement and executives that wouldn’t listen to his ideas, Walton founded Wal-Mart in 1962. Walton’s idea was to situate his stores in small towns that offered discounted merchandise (Entrepreneur, 2019). Walton does not represent the “original birth” of the discount store, but rather the “rebirth”. Walton changed the concept of discount stores by placing them in small towns rather that in big cities like other chains did. To facilitate operating stores in small towns, Walton would place stores around a Wal-Mart distribution center. Each store was near enough to the distribution center that merchandise could be trucked between them in one day. This strategy allowed Wal-Mart to buy products in large quantities from manufacturers and offer it at low prices to consumers (Entrpreneur, 2019).

This strategy and Wal-Mart’s subsequent takeover of the discount retail market represent the “rebirth” of the discount store. In his lifetime, Sam Walton saw Wal-Mart grow to over 1,700 stores with over 350,000 employees (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2019). Walton’s contributions to business and his reinvention of the discount store make him worthy of high accolades. In 1992 Walton received the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his contributions to entrepreneurship (Entrepreneur, 2019). Because of his impressive accomplishments, and his responsibility for the rebirth of the discount store, Sam Walton should be included on the Mount Rushmore of business figures. A close runner up for the figure to represent birth was Henry Ford, who changed the automotive industry by pioneering the assembly line. However, Walton was a better choice for this category because more people have direct interaction with the rebirth Walton is responsible for. After birth comes growth, and a business figure that represents growth in the United States is John Deere. The name is known worldwide today and is quickly associated with yellow and green farm equipment, but he was a real person. John Deere was a blacksmith working in Grand Detour, IL. Deere learns of farmers struggling with plows that are not suited for the soil of the Midwest. In 1937 he builds a steel plow that excels at cutting tough Midwest soil (Deere & Company, 2019). At this point Deere begins building and selling plows, in 1839 he builds 10, and by 1842 he is up to 100 plows per year (Deere & Company, 2019).

Throughout the next three decades, John Deere continues to manufacture agricultural equipment as either a sole proprietor or partnership type business, all the while increasing production and sales volumes. In 1868 Deere & Company is formed as a corporation and the rest is history. Deere & Company continues to grow and sales continue to increase; by 1889 there are 5 branches spanning the U.S. (Deere & Company, 2019). By 1883 Deere & Company is selling many different agricultural products including walking plows which sell 224,062 units (Deere & Company, 2019), this is substantial growth from 10 plows in 1839. John Deere died in 1886, and while he was not the sole manager or decision maker at Deere & Company for his entire life, he always had some hand in controlling the company and its growth. Deere is deserving of being on the business figure version of Mount Rushmore because of the growth he created in his company. In Deere’s lifetime alone, the company went from sole proprietor blacksmith to nationwide company selling hundreds of thousands of units. What is more important than the growth alone, and what truly makes John Deere deserving of being on the business version of Mount Rushmore is his commitment to quality that still exists within the company today. Deere once Said: “I will never put my name on a product that does not have int it the best that is in me.” (Deere & Company, 2019) John Deere is deserving of this accolade because he was able to create huge growth in his company and industry while never sacrificing quality. John Deere’s successors have continued to uphold his legacy of quality and growth. Deere & Company is now a worldwide power in the agriculture, construction, and forestry equipment markets. Deere & Company has continued to grow and innovate developing solutions to important problems surrounding those “linked to the land”. Deere’s innovation made him a strong candidate for the figure to represent development, but there is a man who has gone even further to develop and innovate within his industry.

After growth comes development, and a business figure that represents development in the U.S. is Walt Disney. Disney is deserving of being included on the Mount Rushmore of Business because he continually developed his business to improve it. Disney was never satisfied with good enough, and that spirit has turned the Disney Company into what it is today. Disney started in the film industry with Ub Iwerks as his partner in 1922. They created advertisments for movie theaters and began working on cartoon films. However, the business failed in 1923 and Disney filed bankruptcy (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2019). Disney and his brother Roy moved to Hollywood, CA and began working on animated films with moderate success. In 1927 they created the now infamous character Mickey Mouse, and were pioneers of using sound animated films (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2019). Disney experienced success with his Mickey Mouse shorts, and developed his company into one that produced feature length films. Between 1937 and 1942 Walt Disney Animation Studios produced five feature length films including Bambi, Dumbo, and Pinocchio (Biography, 2019). In 1955 Disney developed his company once again, with the opening of Disneyland in Anaheim, CA. Disney was now running a full-blown entertainment company, including parks, television, and film. It is also important to note that Disney was a pioneer in using television for entertainment (Biography, 2019). Another consideration for the business figure to represent development on the Mount Rushmore of business was Richard Branson. Branson developed his company, Virgin Records, to include subsidiaries Virgin Airlines, and Virgin mobile. These companies represent the air transportation and telecommunications industries. Branson would also be an excellent choice to signify development on the Mount Rushmore of business, but Disney was chosen because his legacy has a more far reaching impact on the world. What makes Walt Disney truly worthy of a place on the Mount Rushmore of business figures is his legacy. Walt Disney died of lung cancer in 1966 (Biography, 2019), but his impact on the world was far from over. Disney’s company has continued to develop to suit the needs and desires of a fast-changing entertainment industry. Walt Disney Company now owns many subsidiaries, including ABC and continues to develop and define the entertainment industry.

Walt Disney earns his place on the Mount Rushmore of business because of his legacy. Disney chose to develop his company to continually make it better, and inspired his successors to do the same. Walt Disney has truly changed the world through the development of the entertainment industry. After development, preservation must occur so that the benefits of an idea, object, or institution can be realized for decades to come. A business figure that represents preservation in the U.S. is Steve Jobs. In 1997 Jobs saved Apple from collapse, thus preserving Apple Inc’s place in the computer market. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple Computer in 1976. These men developed and sold personal computers, and the company saw early success (Biography, 2019). After losing ground to competitors, Apple struggled to regain market share. Disagreements with Apple executives meant Jobs slowly had less and less influence within the organization. In 1985, Jobs left Apple (Biography, 2019). Fast forward to the late 1990s, Apple still exists but is quickly losing ground to Microsoft. With Apple on the cusp of collapse, Jobs returned as CEO. Jobs quickly made an investment deal with Microsoft that secured $150 million investment in Apple (Entrepreneur, 2019). Next, Jobs set out to fix the internal issues at Apple, this included reducing product offerings and focusing on product quality (Entrpreneur, 2019). Apple went from over $1 billion in losses to over $300 million in profits in one year under Jobs’ direction (Entrpreneur, 2019) After his return to Apple, Jobs also re-instilled one of Apple’s core values that had been lost over the past decade, innovation.

With Jobs at the helm Apple developed and brought to market many innovative new products that changed the electronics industry. 2001 saw the iPod, 2003 saw iTunes, 2007 the iPhone, and 2010 the iPad (Entrepreneur, 2019). Jobs hard work returned Apple to a major power in the electronics industry, and by 2007 Apple’s stock was demanding record breaking prices, while the company posted $1.58 billion in profits. Steve Jobs is the perfect person to represent preservation on the Mount Rushmore of business figures because he stopped at nothing to save the company he founded and preserve its place in the electronics industry. While Steve Jobs died in 2011, Apple is still a major player in the electronics industry and a great deal of its success can be attributed to Jobs and his efforts to preserve Apple so that it could continue to innovate. The Mount Rushmore of business: Sam Walton represents the rebirth of the discount store, John Deere represents growth, Walt Disney represents development, and Steve Jobs represents preservation. Just like Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln, these men have made tremendous contributions to the United States. The figures on the Mount Rushmore of business may not have helped the United States through its conception. They may not have increased the size of the country, or developed infrastructure, and they may not have publicly preserved American values. But Walton, Deere, Disney, and Jobs have greatly contributed to the American way of life, and certainly to the economy. These men can in no way replace Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln or their accomplishments, but in their own domain they have exhibited the some of the qualities and values for which the four presidents on Mount Rushmore are admired.

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Mount Rushmore National Memorial. (2021, Mar 20). Retrieved from