History of The Statue of Liberty

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Édouard René de Laboulaye commented one day he would like to give the United States a gift on behalf of France.  This gift was for the recent achievements in democracy.

His words inspired his friend Frédéric Bartholdi, a noted sculptor. On a trip to New York in 1871, Bartholdi began to consider a spot for the desired gift, he hoped to present for the centennial celebration in 1876.

Liberty, the goddess of freedom in ancient Rome, was a popular symbol in early American history {along with Columbia}. Bartholdi was inspired by her and began to sketch out his design.

Édouard René de Laboulaye

The crown on her head resembles the seven rays which evoke the sun, the seven seas and the seven continents as Liberty enlightens the world. The tablet she holds in her right hand are the year 1776 {date of the Declaration of Independence} in Roman numerals.

At the 1875 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia he announced she would be known as Liberty Enlightening the World.

Funds were raised in France for the statue and in America for the pedestal. 

Gustave Eiffel
Frédéric Bartholdi

Gustave Eiffel helped to design and build the interior structure, one of the first of its kind.

Crates holding liberty arrived in June 1885. Another year passed before her pedestal was ready and she was dedicated on October 28, 1886.

Emma Lazarus wrote the poem “The New Colossus” which is engraved on the inside of her pedestal.

Emma Lazarus

The Statue of Liberty has become a symbol of freedom for many who have come to the United States, particularly for immigrants as they arrive.

The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
MOTHER OF EXILES. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

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