Black History – Little Known Facts Everyone Needs To Know
The Statue of Liberty was unveiled in 1886, 6yrs before Ellis Island opened. Its original design was to celebrate the end of slavery, not the arrival of Europeans. The iconic American monument was designed by Édouard-Rene'Lefèbvre de Laboulaye and Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi. The French scholar of legal and political institutions admired America's commitment to liberty and was an expert on The Constitution of the United States.
As noted by History Professor at New York University and author, Edward Berenson, in the book “Enlightening the World: The Creation of the Statue of Liberty.” Berenson confirmed, "One of the first meanings [of the statue] had to do with abolition, but it’s a meaning that didn’t stick.” Regardless, the facts are facts. By the time the American Civil War ended in 1865, Laboulaye was president of the French Emancipation Committee. This was an initiative founded to provide financial aid to the newly freed slaves.
A steadfast supporter of the Union and their anti-slavery cause, his love for America only grew stronger when slavery was abolished. He was so inspired that he organized a meeting with fellow French abolitionists to discuss how they could symbolize the ideas of freedom and Democracy, shared by both America and France, on a monumental scale. Shortly thereafter, French sculptor Fe'derucevelopment of Lady Liberty would soon get underway.
In the early stages, Labothere and Bartholdi experimented with several molds and designs, before ultimately settling with the 305-foot monument standing in New York Harbor today.
In 1867 according to a correspondent for the New York Times, Laboulaye was a zealous abolitionist. The Professor of American Democracy would often give passionate speeches that were “feasts of liberty which move the souls of men to their deepest depths.” The Statue of Liberty Museum on Liberty Island opened on May 16, 2019, and acknowledges the long-forgotten anti-slavery history of Lady Liberty along with various other treasures such as the original torch (replaced in the 80s,) a copper unoxidized replica of Lady Liberty's face, recordings of European immigrants describing how they felt when they saw the monument for the first time and more.
To the millions of European immigrants who passed through Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty served as a beacon of freedom and hope. This truth was embodied in The New Colossus, by Emma Lazarus. A plaque of the famous poem would be added almost 7-yrs after the statue was unveiled in 1903.