In 1865, United States had just won the Civil War. The noted French political expert Edouard de Laboulaye proposed the idea that France should gift United States a statue. He proposed that the statue should symbolize the ideals of liberty and democracy, ideals which were common between France and United States.
Frederic Auguste Bartholdi was a French sculptor who was interested in colossal works of art. Bartholdi was inspired by the proposal of Laboulaye and started creating basic sketches for the proposed statue. He was eventually selected as the sculptor for the statue.
By 1878, Bartholdi was completed the head and upper portion of the colossal Statue of Liberty. These were then displayed at the Paris Universal Exposition where they inspired quite a sensation.
In praise of the ideals embodied in the Statue of Liberty, poet Emma Lazarus penned the poem ‘The New Colossus’. The poem became a sensation and became synonymous with the statue itself. It also proved instrumental in raising funds for the statue.
By 1885, the statue had been completed in France. However, funds were required to build a pedestal and erect the statue in the United States. To this end, a fundraising campaign was launched. The campaign was able to raise more than $100,000 in a period of six months. Most of this amount came in as tiny contributions from a large number of Americans.
After being completed, the Statue of Liberty was disassembled and dispatched from Paris. It was placed on board the French ship Isere and reached New York in June. It was met with an exceptionally grand welcome as a huge number of Americans turned out to receive it.
Although the Statue of Liberty arrived in the United States in 1885, it could not be erected immediately. This was because a pedestal first had to be created for the statue. This pedestal was finally completed in 1886. As soon as it was completed, the monumental task of reassembling and erecting the statue began.
In October, 1886, the unveiling ceremony of the statue took place. President of the United States addressed the public at the occasion and Bartholdi, the chief sculptor of the statue, was also present. Nearly a million people at New York turned out to attend the unveiling ceremony.
In 1903, the famous poem by Emma Lazarus titled ‘The New Colossus’ was inscribed on a plaque and added to the pedestal of the statue.
As a tribute to the Statue of Liberty which was mounted on the Bedloe Island, the island was renamed to Liberty Island. This was accomplished through a joint resolution passed by the Congress.
In 1984, extensive renovation work on the Statue of Liberty began. The work continued for two years and was completed in 1986.