Statue of Liberty

Enlightening the World: The Creation of the Statue of Liberty begins at Gettysburg in 1863. With a brief yet stirring three-minute address President Abraham Lincoln defined the nature and consequence of the American Civil War. This great civil war, President Lincoln declared, is testing whether a nation “conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal” can endure.

Less than a century after the nation’s founding, the future of America’s system of representative government remained unclear. Would it be able to withstand this grave threat to its existence while honoring the nation’s founding principles?

Enlightening the World: The Creation of the Statue of Liberty

It was in the months following the end of the war that an ardent “friend of America,” Édouard-René Lefebvre de Laboulaye, conceived of a monument to liberty for America. Drawing on the tradition of friendship established between the French and American people during the American Revolutionary War, Laboulaye proposed that the two peoples join together in crafting this monument.

Little did he anticipate that his idea would lead to the creation of a record-setting, 151-foot-tall statue – the eighth wonder of the world, as some would call it.

Enlightening the World follows the statue’s twenty-one-year journey from conception to unveiling, exploring the historical period in which the statue was built, the details and symbolism of the design, and the people central to the story of the statue: Édouard Laboulaye, whose influence and enthusiasm won public support for the project in France; Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, the French sculptor who transformed Laboulaye’s idea into a work of art and construction; Richard Morris Hunt, the highly respected American architect who designed the statue’s monumental pedestal; and Gustave Eiffel, a leading figure in large-scale metal construction who designed the Eiffel Tower only a few years after completing the internal support structure for the Statue of Liberty. Others who figure in the story include Senators Charles Sumner and Carl Schurz, artist John La Farge, poet Emma Lazarus, who captured the spirit of the statue in her sonnet “The New Colossus,” and newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer.

The statue was initially named “Liberty Enlightening the World”; thus the title for the book. Enlightening the World: The Creation of the Statue of Liberty is published by Cornell University Press. It is available in print, ebook, and audio formats.

Enlightening the World: The Creation of the Statue of Liberty
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