The Statue of Liberty is a longstanding symbol of freedom and friendship in the United States. Created by the French to commemorate America's independence from Great Britain, it is a source of inspiration, admiration and intrigue.
The Statue of Liberty was a gift from the people of France to the United States, "in recognition of the friendship established during the American Revolution." Sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi was commissioned to sculpt the statue for completion in 1876, in recognition of the 100-year anniversary of the America's independence from England. America was responsible for creating the pedestal, while France was charged with creating and assembling the statue. However money issues plagued both countries, and were solved through a variety of fund-raising endeavors. The statue was completed in France in July 1884. It arrived in New York Harbor in June of 1885 on the French frigate Isere, which transported the Statue of Liberty from France to the United States.
New York or New Jersey?
There is a dispute about whether the Statue of Liberty is in New York or New Jersey. Close scrutiny would indicate that the statue is within the boundaries of New Jersey. According to a story in the New York Times in 1987, "Representative Frank J. Guarini, a Democrat, and Gerald McCann, who was Mayor of Jersey City, sued New York, contending New York lacked sovereignty over the islands because they are in the New Jersey half of the Hudson River. The federally owned islands are 2,000 feet off Jersey City and two miles from New York City." The Supreme Court refused to hear the case, leaving the statue in the dominion of New York.
Was the Original Model a Black Woman?
According to a study funded by the National Park Service, "most versions of the Black Statue of Liberty rumor refer to a cast (c. 1870) of a no longer extant maquette owned by the Museum of the City of New York as proof that 'the original model' for the Statue of Liberty was a black woman." While many believe that the concept of the statue came from earlier designs of a colossal monument in Egypt, and that the women who posed for that were black Egyptian models, the study claims that there is no evidence that the designers intended to depict Liberty as a black woman.
Is the Statue a Tribute to Slaves?
The statue's creator, Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, had strong anti-slavery views. However, as the study states: "The Statue of Liberty would never have been conceived or built if its principal French and American advocates had not been active abolitionists who understood slavery as the cause of the Civil War and its end as the realization of the promise of liberty for all as codified in the Declaration of Independence. But the Statue of Liberty was not intended entirely as a monument to the end of slavery." Still, the presence of shackles at the foot of the monument combined with the implication of a black model does make for an interesting debate.
Is this the second Statue of Liberty, and did the first one sink? Short answer: No. Is her name actually the Statue of Liberty? The official name of the statue is Liberty Enlightening the World.
- New York Public Library, Davidography