Friday, September 23All That Matters

Arm and torch of the Statue of Liberty stored in Madison Square Park circa 1876 (post inspired by the novel “Time & Again” by Jack Finney)

Arm and torch of the Statue of Liberty stored in Madison Square Park circa 1876 (post inspired by the novel “Time & Again” by Jack Finney)



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  • wjbc

    The Long Depression (known at the time as the Great Depression) that started in 1873 made fund raising for the pedestal (the French were paying for the statue) difficult. Joseph Pulitzer, publisher of the *New York World*, saved the campaign by pledging to print the name of every contributor in his newspaper, no matter how small the contribution. He then highlighted especially touching notes he received from contributors, young and old, capturing the imagination of New Yorkers.

    When a French steamer arrived with the crates holding the disassembled statue, two hundred thousand people lined the docks and hundreds of boats put to sea to welcome the ship. Shortly thereafter the fundraising goal for the pedestal was reached, although it still took many months to construct the pedestal and then many more months to assemble the statue.

    Why did the French make such a gift? Mostly it was a matter of French politics. For many years France had argued and fought about republican ideas. Many people associated those ideas with the horrors of the French Revolution and feared them. Others, though, pointed to the example of the United States, which France had supported, as proof that France did not need monarchy. So the French politicians and elites who supported the Statue of Liberty project also wanted to encourage the French people to embrace republican ideals and reject monarchy.

    In addition, there were wealthy Frenchmen who had financial interests in the Americas and wanted to create a bond with the United States. One of the biggest ongoing projects was the Panama Canal, and although it wasn’t being built in the United States, it was being built in an area where U.S. influence was strong. Indeed, after the French reluctantly abandoned the project, the U.S. finished it.

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