The Statue of Liberty
The Statue of LibertyAudrey Ammon
France and America are Sisters? America probably could not have won its freedom from the British during the American Revolution without the help of the French. France provided arms, ships, money and men to the American colonies. It was an alliance of respect and friendship that the French would not forget.
Almost 100 years later, in 1865, after the end of the American Civil War, several French intellectuals discussed their admiration for America's success in establishing a democratic government and abolishing slavery at the end of the civil war. The dinner was hosted by Edouard Rene Lefebvre de Laboulaye.
Their talk turned to the close historic ties and love of liberty the two nations shared. Laboulaye noted that there was "a genuine flow of sympathy" between the two nations and he called France and America, "the two sisters!
Due to Being Kin "Wouldn't it be wonderful if people in France gave the United States a great monument as a lasting memorial to independence and thereby showed that the French government was also dedicated to the idea of human liberty? -Laboulaye
Laboulaye's question struck a responsive chord in one of his guests, Frdric-Auguste Bartholdi, a successful, 31-year-old sculptor from Colmar, a town in the eastern province of Alsace, France.
So was sown the seed of inspiration that would become the Statue of Liberty.
Why New York? New York Harbor was the perfect locale, he added, since it was "where people get their first view of the New World." Continuing, he said, "I've found an admirable spot. It is Bedloe's Island(Ellis Island), in the middle of the bay... The island belongs to the government; it's on national territory, belonging to all the states, just opposite the Narrows, which are, so to speak, the gateway to America.
How to Afford This? France wanted to give the America a gift, a very large expensive gift showing liberty in their countries. How were they going to come up with the money for this? (It was to be very large, 46 meters or 151 feet and 225 tons in fact!)
A Lottery! A Lottery paid off the statue!
The prizes were highly coveted and valuable, including two works by Bartholdi himself. And $750,000 was raised.
The Unveiling It took several months of reconstruction and "final touches," but the statue was finally unveiled on October 28, 1886, to the satisfaction and relief of people on both sides of the Atlantic. Both nations had hoped to unveil the statue in New York harbor in 1876, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. Delays in construction and funds pushed the celebration back 10 years. This poem was read at the unveiling:
The New Colossus Emma Laza
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,with conquering limbs astride from land to land;Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall standa mighty woman with a torch, whose flameis the imprisoned lightning, and her nameMother of Exiles. From her beacon-handGlows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes commandThe air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame,"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries shewith 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!"
Our Statue of Liberty!