This note accompanies the follow episode(s):
The Writer’s Almanac for July 4, 2017: Song of the Shattering Vessels

July 4, 2017: on this day: France present the U.S. with the Statue of Liberty

The French presented the United States with the Statue of Liberty on this date in 1884. The statue owes its origins to a comment made by the president of the French Anti-Slavery Society, a man named Édouard René de Laboulaye, in 1865. The American Civil War was in its last stages, and Laboulaye, who was hosting a dinner, suggested that a monument be built to honor America’s commitment to democracy. Sculptor Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi was at that dinner, and he began to think about what form a monument like that might take. Inspired by the legendary Colossus of Rhodes, he envisioned a robed woman holding a torch aloft to lead people to freedom. It took 21 years to bring Bartholdi’s vision to fruition. Engineer Gustave Eiffel, of Eiffel Tower fame, built the statue’s metal scaffold. Three hundred sheets of thin copper were hammered into shape and attached to the scaffold in France for the statue’s presentation to the United States, and then it was dismantled and transported to New York’s Bedloe Island by boat, where the statue could greet immigrants on their way to Ellis Island. The American poet Emma Lazarus wrote a sonnet, “The New Colossus,” to raise funds for construction of the statue’s pedestal; the sonnet was inscribed on a plaque and displayed inside the pedestal in 1903.