As most of you know I compete in the National Christian Forensics and Communications Association (NCFCA). This year I qualified for a Regional Invitational tournament, and competed in Illustrated Oratory (IO) and Open Interpretation. (Open) In Open I was able to advance to semi-finals, but I didn’t advance in IO. Since it wouldn’t really work to post the script of my Open (you wouldn’t be able to see my acting), I’m posting the script of my IO, of course you won’t be able to see any of my visual aids, but at least you’ll get the general picture:
“We shall not forget that Liberty has here made her home: nor shall her chosen alter be neglected….[Her] stream of light shall pierce the darkness of ignorance and man’s oppression until liberty enlightens the world.”
These words were delivered by Grover Cleveland at the unveiling of the “Statue of Liberty.” But this unveiling was not easily achieved; it took a dedicated and united undertaking of two nations before this symbol of freedom was complete. The process of creating the Statue of Liberty began with the idea of two individuals, continued with a functional design and united effort in France, and was concluded by a deliberate and collective struggle in the United States.
The idea of the Statue of Liberty was a passing thought of a distinguished French law professor and historian, Édouard de Laboulaye. Laboulaye was an admirer of the American form of government, and spoke adamantly in favor of a republic, even though Napoleon III ruled France as a dictator at the time. In 1865, while Laboulaye was holding a dinner party, a conversation arose about the relations between France and America, in it he stated, “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.” This idea was planted in the head of a young man who was present at the party named Frѐdѐric Auguste Bartholdi, a well known sculptor. He thought that a monument made jointly by two peoples, French and American, was a wonderful idea, and began formulating different designs immediately. Bartholdi thought the theme displayed through the statue should be liberty or liberty enlightening the world. Sadly Napoleon III’s dictatorship would not approve of such a statue. But in 1871 Prussia overtook France and allowed the French to create a new republic government in which Laboulaye held an elected position. Unfortunately there were still many people in this government that opposed Laboulaye’s ideas of a democracy. In Jonathan Harris’s A Statue for America he states that Bartholdi thought that during this time it would be good for “a nationwide campaign on behalf of such a memorial [to] help … promote republican sentiments among the French.” It wasn’t until 1875 that Laboulaye and his followers in the French government were able to construct a new democratic constitution. Now a statue made as a “memorial to their independence … [with a] united effort” could become a reality. Laboulaye began a fundraising campaign in France while Bartholdi traveled to the United States. In America Bartholdi would try to establish favor for a statue such as this. As he arrived in New York harbor, he saw a relatively small piece of land and later stated that: “The statue was born for this place which inspired its conception.” The name of the area was “Bedloe’s Island.” Throughout his visiting of the United States he met with many important figures, including President Ulysses S. Grant. Bartholdi specified that the French would pay for the statue. However the remaining funds needed for the pedestal would be raised by the Americans. Most people said they liked the idea, but none of them took any action, due to the absence of a united effort. Despite the Americans lack of active participation in the project, Bartholdi continued to pursue his dream.
When Bartholdi returned to France he worked on his final design for liberty. A common design for a statue at this time was a majestic woman with her hand aloft holding a symbolic object. These qualities were very similar to what Bartholdi came up with: A young female holding up a torch of light and striding on broken chains illustrating the victory of freedom over slavery. She would wear a crown of seven rays. Jonathan Harris explained that: “Bartholdi intended the seven rays of his statue to signify the influence of liberty radiating out over the seven seas and seven continents.” The statue also held a tablet with the date July 4th 1776 on it, to establish its American heritage. While Bartholdi was perfecting his design, Laboulaye started the French-American Union that would be mainly committed to the fundraising of the statue. The first estimation for the cost of the monument was 240,000 francs or about $60,000, but by the time construction finished the final cost was over six times this amount. Donations accumulated from school children to businessmen and from everyday citizens to investors. After the first year of fundraising Bartholdi had enough money to commence work in the large workshop of Gaget Gauthier & CO in Paris. This company specialized in making large metal sculptures, and provided Bartholdi with many of their craftsmen. By this time Bartholdi had decided to make the monument out of copper, which is a relatively soft metal and would be easy to shape at hot temperatures. Over time when the copper is in damp places it will develop a green film, called patina. This film would protect the copper parts of the statue from being corroded further. However, copper was soft and it could not stand on its own, so Bartholdi had Gustave Eiffel design an iron skeleton that would support the statue especially during the strong winds of New York Harbor. Bartholdi made many plaster miniatures, before he made the full scale plaster statue that would consist of 11 sections. Once a section of the final plaster model was finished, his workers made wood molds out of the section; they used these molds to hammer each copper sheet into its proper form. After a sheet was finished, the workers would bring it outside and attach it to the iron skeleton. In January 1884 the statue was completed. It wasn’t until the 4th of July that the French officially presented the fully assembled statue in Paris to the American people.
Although the statue was completed in France, the Americans still had not realized their part of the deal. Prior to the beginning of the French-American Union there was little enthusiasm for the statue, but once this union formed the statue received the attention of newspapers, which stirred public interest. In 1876 Bartholdi sent the finished torch to be displayed at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, which further increased American’s enthusiasm. One year later William M. Evarts, a politician, started a group called the “American Committee” to raise funds for the pedestal. Finally, in 1883 the construction began, but just a few months after the French presented the statue to America, construction ceased on the pedestal, because of insufficient funds. Just when everything seemed to be at a loss, Joseph Pulitzer, publisher of the New York World, printed an article titled “The National Disgrace.” In this article he displayed disgust that the American people were “too unpatriotic to contribute a dollar towards a pedestal….” In another article he made a couple days later he announced that The New York World was about to start a campaign, in which they would raise the remaining $100,000 needed to finish the pedestal. Today this sum is equal to more than 2 million dollars. To encourage donations he said that “We will…publish the name of every giver, however small the sum given.” After the first week of fundraising The New York World had raised $2,000. Donations received from men, woman, and children of all positions were piling up. Some children taking French lessons said: “we don’t like [taking French], but we love the good French people for giving us this beautiful Statue we send you $1, the money we have saved to go to the circus…” During this fundraising, the statue was disassembled and sent to Bedloe’s Island on the ship Isѐre. When it arrived, The New York World’s headline was “WELCOME, LIBERTY!” A few months later its headline was a triumphant “ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS!” Remarkably, over 80% of the donations were less than a dollar. The Americans had finally made a whole hearted effort. The following spring the pedestal was completed, and the statue was assembled. On October 28th 1886 Bartholdi unveiled the Statue of Liberty on Bedloe’s Island. Over 100,000 people came to see this 151 foot colossus revealed. Unfortunately, Laboulaye, the initiator of the statue’s existence, did not live to see this day.
Since that time more than 150 million people have visited the statue. Even though a complete restoration was done in the 1980s, she still appears just as Bartholdi created her. The Statue of Liberty’s development came about by two individuals, was carried forth with a solid design and a deliberate effort in France, and was completed with a dedicated endeavor of the Americans. The making of the Statue of Liberty was an enduring and united effort.
Harris, Jonathan. A Statue for America. 1985.
Shapiro, Marry. How They Built the Statue of Liberty. 1985.
Wilson, James and Fiske, John. Appletons’ Cyclopædia of American biography. 1887
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