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Statue of Liberty

Emily Esneault, Writer

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The Statue of Liberty is a colossal sculpture on Liberty Island in New York Harbor, in the United States. This copper statue was a gift from the people of France given to the people of the United States. It was designed by French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and built by Gustave Eiffel. The statue was dedicated on October 28, 1886.

 

The Statue of Liberty is a robed female figure representing a Roman goddess, Libertas. She holds a torch over her head, and in her left arm carries a tabula ansata inscribed “July 4, 1776.” This was the day the U.S. Declaration of Independence was signed. A broken chain lies at her feet. The Statue of Liberty became an icon for freedom. It was also a welcoming sight to immigrants arriving from abroad.

 

According to the National Park Service, the idea for the Statue of Liberty was first proposed by Édouard René de Laboulaye the president of the French Anti-Slavery Society and a prominent political thinker of his time. This project is traced to a mid-1865 conversation between  Édouard René de Laboulaye, a abolitionist and Frédéric Bartholdi, a sculptor. In after-dinner conversation at his home near Versailles, Laboulaye, an ardent supporter of the Union in the American Civil War, is supposed to have said, “If a monument should rise in the United States, as a memorial of their independence, I should think it natural if it were built by united effort – common work of both our nations.” The National Park Service, however, deemed this a legend.

 

A ceremony dedication was held on the afternoon of October 28, 1886. President Grover Cleveland, the former New York governor, presided over the event. On the morning of the dedication, a parade was held in New York City; estimates of the number of people who watched it ranged from several hundred thousand to a million. Shortly after the dedication, The Cleveland Gazette, an African American newspaper, suggested that the statue’s torch not be lit until the United States became a free nation “in reality”:

“Liberty enlightening the world,” indeed! The expression makes us sick. This government is a howling farce. It can not or rather does not protect its citizens within its own borders. Shove the Bartholdi statue, torch and all, into the ocean until the “liberty” of this country is such as to make it possible for an inoffensive and industrious colored man to earn a respectable living for himself and his family, without being klu-kluxed, perhaps murdered, his daughter and wife outraged, and his property destroyed. The idea of “liberty” of this country “enlightening the world”, or even Patagonia, is ridiculous in the extreme.”

 

The Statue of Liberty stands in Upper New York Bay, a universal symbol of freedom. Originally conceived as an emblem of the friendship between the people of France and the U.S. and a sign for their mutual desire for liberty, over the years the Statue has become so much more.

 

Sources

Wikipedia

The Statue of Liberty: The Meaning and Use of a National Symbol

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Statue of Liberty