“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.”
Édouard René de Laboulaye, French Law Professor and Politician
On June 17, 1885, the French ship, “Isere” arrived in New York City bearing the colossal neoclassical sculpture, “The Statue of Liberty.” Designed by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, the Lady of Liberty was a gift to the United States from the people of France. The friendship between the two nations was forged during the struggle for America’s independence.
The statue represents Libertas, the Roman goddess of freedom. In one hand she bears a torch and in the other a tabular ansata, a tablet evoking the law, which bears the date, July 4, 1776, honouring the American Declaration of Independence. At her feet lies a broken chain, the symbol of freedom.
Over the years, the Statue of Liberty has welcomed many immigrants who entered through New York City. “The New Colossus,” a poem written by Emma Lazarus in 1883, is engraved on a bronze plaque and mounted inside the lower level of the pedestal.
The New Colossus
By Emma Lazarus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With 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!”