In approximately 1800, Mills left his native Charleston, South Carolina, to work under the architect James Hoban (c. 1758&ndash;1831) on the President’s House in the city of Washington. There, Mills became acquainted with [[Thomas Jefferson]], who lent him European books on architecture and in 1803 recommended him for a place in the office of [[Benjamin Henry Latrobe]], who was then designing a [[canal]] in the vicinity of the future [[National Mall]] while also overseeing work at the President’s House and the U.S. Capitol.<ref>John M. Bryan, ed. ''Robert Mills, Architect'' (Washington, DC: American Institute of Architects Press, 1989), 1&ndash;8, [https://www.zotero.org/groups/54737/items/itemKey/NQCC9937 view on Zotero]; John M. Bryan, ''Robert Mills: America’s First Architect'' (Princeton, NJ: Princeton Architectural Press, 2001), 6&ndash;35, [https://www.zotero.org/groups/54737/items/itemKey/P55UM5XC view on Zotero]; Rhodri Windsor Liscombe, ''Altogether American : Robert Mills, Architect and Engineer, 1781&ndash;1855'' (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994), 3&ndash;30, [https://www.zotero.org/groups/54737/items/itemKey/NGNZ65WN view on Zotero].</ref> Both [[Benjamin Henry Latrobe|Latrobe's]] civil engineering work and his modern interpretation of ancient Greek and Roman architecture had lasting effects on Mills’s career.
In 1814 Mills won an important competition to design the [[Washington Monument (Baltimore)|Washington Monument]] in Baltimore, Maryland, which was to be the first public monument dedicated to the memory of George Washington. <span id="Mills_birth_cite"></span>In advancing his candidacy, Mills had emphasized his American birth and education, noting that his architectural training had been “altogether American and unmixed with European habits" ([[#Mills_birth|view citationtext]]).<ref>William D. Hoyt Jr., “Robert Mills and the Washington Monument in Baltimore [Part One],” '' Maryland Historical Magazine'' 34 (1939): 153, [https://www.zotero.org/groups/54737/items/itemKey/DC2JN4I5 view on Zotero]; J. Jefferson Miller, “The Designs for the Washington Monument in Baltimore, ''Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians'' 23, no. 1 (March 1964): 23, [https://www.zotero.org/groups/54737/items/itemKey/5VX37FEW view on Zotero]; Bryan 2001, 112, [https://www.zotero.org/groups/54737/items/itemKey/P55UM5XC view on Zotero].</ref> Mills’s knowledge of ancient and modern European art and architecture was actually quite extensive, and he drew freely on Old World prototypes in designing his landmark American monument, which ultimately took the form of a colossal Doric [[column]] on a cubic base surmounted by a [[statue]] of Washington [Fig. 1].<ref>Pamela Scott, “Robert Mills and American Monuments,” in ''Robert Mills, Architect,'' ed. John M. Bryan (Washington, DC: American Institute of Architects Press, 1989), 146&ndash;54, [https://www.zotero.org/groups/54737/items/itemKey/P55UM5XC view on Zotero].</ref>
The Baltimore commission created opportunities to work on a number of smaller monuments. Mills designed an Egyptian Revival [[obelisk]] for the Aquilla Randall Monument (1816&ndash;17) in Baltimore and he repeated the [[obelisk]] form in subsequent commemorative projects, including the De Kalb (1824&ndash;27) and Maxcy Monuments (1824&ndash;27) in South Carolina,<ref>Scott 1989, 153&ndash;54, [https://www.zotero.org/groups/54737/items/itemKey/P55UM5XC view on Zotero]; Bryan 2001, 139&ndash;42, 201&ndash;2, [https://www.zotero.org/groups/54737/items/itemKey/P55UM5XC view on Zotero].</ref> as well as a drawing he submitted in 1825 for the competition to design the [[Bunker Hill Monument]] in Charleston, Massachusetts. Mills’s series of memorial monuments culminated in the most ambitious public monument to honor of Washington, the [[Washington Monument (Washington, DC)|Washington Monument]] on the [[National Mall]] in Washington, DC. Mills had proposed a variety of architectural projects in the President’s memory following his move to Washington in 1830, but it was not until 1845 that he secured the commission, and the monument was not completed until 30 years after his death.<ref>Bryan 2001, 220, [https://www.zotero.org/groups/54737/items/itemKey/P55UM5XC view on Zotero]; Scott 1989, 157&ndash;158 [https://www.zotero.org/groups/54737/items/itemKey/E2TP47UJ view on Zotero].</ref>
Image:2187.jpg|Jesse H. Whitehurst, Robert and Eliza Barnwell Smith Mills, c. 1851
Image:2293.jpg|“Robert Mills,” in Louise Pecquet du Bellet, ''Some Prominent Virginia Families'', vol. 4 (1907), p. 134.
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