Carving officially began on June 23, 1923, with Borglum making the first cut. At Stone Mountain he developed sympathetic connections with the reorganized Ku Klux Klan, who were major financial backers for the monument. Lee's head was unveiled on Lee's birthday January 19, 1924, to a large crowd, but soon thereafter Borglum was increasingly at odds with the officials of the organization...
Borglum was an active member of the Ancient Free and Accepted Masons (the Freemasons), raised in Howard Lodge #35, New York City, on June 10, 1904, and serving as its Worshipful Master 1910-11. In 1915, he was appointed Grand Representative of the Grand Lodge of Denmark near the Grand Lodge of New York. He received his Scottish Rite Degrees in the New York City Consistory on October 25, 1907. Borglum was a member of the Ku Klux Klan. He sat on the Imperial Koncilium in 1923, which transferred leadership of The Ku Klux Klan from Imperial Wizard Colonel Simmons to Imperial Wizard Hiram Evans. Later, he stated, "I am not a member of the Kloncilium, nor a knight of the KKK", but Shaff and Shaff add, "that was for public consumption."  The museum at Mount Rushmore displays a letter to Borglum from D. C. Stephenson, the infamous Klan Grand Dragon who was later convicted of the rape and murder of Madge Oberholtzer.
"...I didn't realize just how unfinished it was until I saw the scale model of the original plan. Turns out that, behind the little unfinished details, there are a lot of larger, *really* unfinished details. At the park there's a scale model of what Mount Rushmore was intended to look like -- and all the presidents have hands and bodies and clothes. .."