1886: The Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty

What is the tallest gift received by the United States? Located in New York Harbor, the 152-foot Statue of Liberty was a gift of international friendship from the people of France to the people of the United States. An inspiration to millions of immigrants, this statue is a universal symbol of freedom, democracy, and diplomacy.

What is the Freedom Timeline?
The American Response to Terrorism is being fought in many ways. You may be hearing new words on television and at school such as intelligence, diplomacy and humanitarian relief. These words have served as markers on America's timeline of freedom over many years, and these stories show the courage and strength of Americans who made a contribution in the quest for freedom.

The relationship between the United States and France began during America's quest for independence from Great Britain in 1776. Benjamin Franklin was among those who served on the diplomatic front during the Revolutionary War. By living in Paris as the American ambassador, Benjamin cultivated a relationship with the French government and the French people. As a result, French soldiers fought alongside the American colonists. Paris was the site for peace negotiations between the United States and Great Britain at the end of the war.

Statue of Liberty

In 1865, Edourd de Laboulaye of France developed the idea of creating a giant statue to honor the friendship and the commitment to liberty between France and the United States. He formed the French-American Union to raise money for this project. Joseph Pulitzer used the editorial pages of his newspaper to raise support in the United States for the fund. French sculptor Auguste Bartholdi and structural engineer Gustave Eiffel finished the project in Paris, and the French people presented it to the people of America on July 4, 1884. The statue was then shipped across the Atlantic in 214 crates broken into 350 individual separate pieces. The Statue of Liberty was dedicated on October 28, 1886, and President Grover Cleveland accepted the statue on behalf of the American people.

Ellis Island, which was the arrival point for European immigrants, is part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument. Between 1892 and 1924, more than 22 million passengers saw the Statue of Liberty as they passed through Ellis Island and the Port of New York. This landmark of freedom became a National Monument in 1924 and a major tourist attraction in the 20th Century.

Nearly a century after her dedication, Lady Liberty began to deteriorate. In the early 1980's, President Ronald Reagan created the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Commission to restore the statue to her original beauty. More than $230 million was needed to restore the statute. The statue was closed for two years and reopened on July 4, 1986 with a centennial celebration.

The base of the statue contains a passage written by Emma Lazarus, "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."

Freedom Timeline: Historical Stories of Freedom
1777-Intelligence An Unlikely Spy
1831-liberty Underground Railroad
Statue of Liberty
March of Dimes
Berlin Airlift: Candy Bomber
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