The Statue of Liberty and How It Began

The Statue of Liberty and How It Began

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            It was said to have come to being inspired by a comment from French law professor and politician Édouard René de Laboulaye sometime in 1865 who stated that "If a monument should rise in the United States, as a memorial to their independence, I should think it only natural if it were built by united effort—a common work of both our nations" in an after dinner talk at his home in Versailles. The comment became a driving force that inspired Frédéric Bartholdi, a young sculptor who happen to attend the event. 

            The early 1870s marked the start of work on the statue in France on the condition that France will shoulder the cost of materials and construction while the United States will provide the funding for the construction of the pedestal on which that statue will be mounted. In May 1876 Bartholdi left for the US as part of the French delegation to the Centennial Exhibition. By August of same year the completed arm bearing the torch arrived and became part of the exhibit (it was moved to New York after the event and remained in Madison Square Park for years before being returned to France). Bartholdi focused on the head structure in 1877 when he returned to France and it was placed on exhibition when completed a year after at Paris World’s Fair. In 1880, Bartholdi sought the assistance of Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel on the work at the statue and the latter added the services of his structural engineer Maurice Koechlin.

            The Statue of Liberty was completed to the waist in 1882 but Laboulaye died in 1883 before even seeing the whole structure completed. Ferdinand de Lesseps (Suez Canal builder) replaced him as chairman of the French Committee. The completion of the statue on 4 July 1884 prompted its presentation to US Ambassador to France Levi P. Morton in Paris where de Lesseps confirmed that the French government agreed to pay for the cost of transport of the statue. The planned transport of the dismantled parts of the statue to the US was delayed however until the completion of the pedestal in the US was confirmed in January 1885. 

            Formally inaugurated with a ceremony of dedication on the afternoon of 28 October 1886 by then United States President Grover Cleveland, the standing and fully completed Statue of Liberty at Bedloe's Island (now Liberty Island) is an iconic symbol of freedom and of the United States of America. It was a gift of France to the US representing the robed image of the Roman goddess of freedom Libertas. A torch and a tablet where inscribed the date of the American Declaration of Independence brings the message of progress guided by the torch of freedom. The statue’s dramatic harbour location was expected to enable passengers on ships entering New York Bay to gain the vantage point to the statue in changing angles as they proceed toward Manhattan. Frédéric Bartholdi was lucky enough to be alive and see his creation to be admired by the whole world. He died on 4 October 1904.

Reference:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statue_of_Liberty

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