The French Connection: Why The Statue of Liberty is Among the Most Prized Gifts for America
The Statue of Liberty at the Liberty Island has been a constant tourist attraction in New York. (Credit: REUTERS)
The statue of Liberty has been synonymous with the USA and along with the Washington Monument, White House and US Capitol building, Chrysler Building among other structures of a modern America, thereby manifesting its importance as a socio-cultural symbol.
- Last Updated: October 28, 2020, 13:31 IST
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Over a century after its dedication to the people of America, the Statue of Liberty continues to stand tall and is among the most famous global symbols of freedom and opportunity. The huge neoclassical sculpture, a gift to America from the people of France was earlier called Liberty Enlightening the World and is a representation of Libertas, a robed Roman goddess.
On this day, 134 years ago, the statue was gifted to the people of America by France. Towering over everything near it, the structure measures 305 feet in the air when its concrete pedestal and foundation are included, but rises at 151 feet from its base to the tip of the torch, which it holds in its right hand. A tablet inscribed July 4, 1776, in Roman numerals is held in its left. A broken shackle and chain lie at its feet, signaling freedom.
The statue has been synonymous with the USA and along with the Washington Monument, White House and US Capitol building, Chrysler Building among other structures of a modern America, thereby manifesting its importance as a socio-cultural symbol.
October 28, 1886, was a big day in New York City. President Grover Cleveland was present to dedicate the Statue of Liberty. The 151-foot-tall copper statue was a gift from the people of France, erected on a 154-foot base on an island in New York Harbor.— Joe (@HistorianJoe) October 28, 2020
Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, the French sculptor designed the mammoth structure while the metal framework was provided by engineer Gustave Eiffel, who is known for the masterpiece Eiffel Tower. The structure was a collaborative effort of the US and France.
A gift from France to US
So why did France gift the Statue of Liberty to America? The gift from the French people that marked the alliance of France and the US during the American Revolution meant a lot more to those who proposed the gift. Edouard de Laboulaye, who was a French political thinker, US Constitution expert proposed the gift to promote freedom and democracy in US as an honour for late President Abraham Lincoln. He also had wished that the same could also help France in being inspired to break free from the clutches of a repressive monarchy.
The statue saw a lot of roadblocks before its completion and the project was stalled over lack of funding. Bartholdi had created the head and the torch-bearing arm earlier and the parts were exhibited at international arenas to get financial help. The pedestal which was built in US, also had to be built only after several fundraising events.
After completion, the parts were packed into crates and taken by ships and finally assembled on the completed pedestal on what is now known as Liberty Island.
The statue has constantly been a huge attraction for tourists and has been a silent spectator to the prosperity and growth that the US has seen since the revolution.