Little Bits of History

Statue of Liberty

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 17, 2014
Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty

June 17, 1885: The Statue of Liberty arrives in New York Harbor. Frederic Auguste Bartholdi was a French sculptor best known for this particular work of art. Liberty Enlightening the World was a gift from the French Third Republic created to represent the fraternal feeling between the two republics – France and the US. The actual originator of the idea is under debate, but Bartholdi claimed that a 1865 comment from Edouard Rene de Laboulaye served as inspiration which had to wait until the regime of Napoleon III ended. Also, the artist was busy with some of his other over-sized and impressive projects.

By 1875, it was announced that a combined French and American project would take place if funds could be secured. It was at that time the name Liberty Enlightening the World was chosen for work. The French would supply the statue if America would supply the pedestal. This proposal met with general approval in France, but some Frenchmen were disenchanted with the US for not coming to their aid in their war with Prussia. Plans were not even finalized before Bartholdi began to work on this creation. In 1876, he came to America as the French delegate for the Centennial Exhibition and had a huge painting of the statue shown in New York City. The statue would be built in pieces and several were displayed in various places. The arm lifting the torch came to Philadelphia in August 1876 and was displayed as part of the Exhibition, but due to its late arrival was not listed in the catalog.

In 1878, Lady Liberty’s head was displayed at the Paris World’s Fair. Fundraising continued throughout the process. Gustave Eiffel and his structural engineer, Maurice Koechlin, helped with the design. For construction, 200,000 pounds of copper was needed and over half of it was donated by French industrialist Eugene Secretan. Other copper merchants donated more of the copper. With Eiffel’s help, a framework was built to support the statue’s great weight as well as keep the skin from cracking. The statue had to survive winds and temperature shifts without falling to pieces. Galvanic corrosion between the copper skin and the iron support system was forestalled by insulating with asbestos.

Fundraising in the US was problematic as well. The Panic of 1873 led to a decrease in available funds for this project as well as the Washington Monument. Many Americans were upset that a “gift” from France was costing so much from Americans. Despite these arguments the pedestal was built using sketches from Eiffel to assure the pedestal could actually support the statue it was meant to display. On this day, the French steamer Isere, reached New York Harbor. The unloading of the crates was witnessed by 200,000 people on shore and in boats in the harbor. The pedestal was not completed until April 1886 and the assembly of the statue could then begin. After the framework was erected, the skin could be attached in sections. Instead of torchlights around the base which was disapproved by the Army Corps of Engineers, Bartholdi cut holes in the raised torch and put the lights there. The Statue of Liberty was officially dedicated in a ceremony held on October 28, 1886.

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-tossed, to me: / I lift my lamp beside the golden door. – Emma Lazarus

Its magnificence was indescribable, and its magnitude was inconceivable. She felt overwhelmed in the presence of its greatness. – Mona Rodriguez

I recommend that the Statue of Liberty be supplemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the west coast. – Viktor E. Frankl

I’ve always had a strong feeling for the Statue of Liberty, because it became the statue of my personal liberty. – David Antin

Also on this day: Indian Princess – In 1631, Arjumand Banu Begum dies while giving birth to her fourteenth child.
Nicole and Ron – In 1994, OJ Simpson was arrested.
Smoot-Hawley Act – In 1930, this tariff act was signed into law.
Breed’s Hill? – In 1775, the Battle of Bunker Hill was fought.

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One Response

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  1. hairballexpress said, on June 17, 2014 at 6:32 pm

    Another pawsome, and infurmative post! Love it!! Thanks human! *(purrs)*


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