In the 18th century, the United States was a new country, having just fought for and winning its independence. Benjamin Franklin wanted the design to reflect the spirit of the United States and was inspired by his tenure as America’s first ambassador in Paris before he went home in 1785. America’s new ambassador to France was Thomas Jefferson, another man who was influenced by French design and the Philhellenic spirit consuming the French capital city.
When Jefferson returned to the United States he knew that American colonists were not much different to the English in terms of language religion and temperament, however, he wanted to take the country into a new direction so that they could think of themselves as Americans. He made the new American architecture his artistic declaration of independence and what better way to show freedom than by stepping back in time to the spirit of Ancient Greece.
He was inspired by the mathematical precision of Ancient Greece with its symmetry and clean lines. Jefferson commissioned a new kind of American architecture that is known as Jeffersonian architecture. It’s aesthetic taste, classical structures of antiquity and inspiration however, represent the Greek spirit.
The Jefferson memorial
Saint Louis Gateway Arch (originally Jefferson National Expansion Memorial), Saint Louis, Missouri
Library of Congress, Thomas Jefferson Building.
Mural depicting muse Melpomene, Library of Congress
Great Hall in Thomas Jefferson Building
Library of Congress