Why Did the French Give America the Statue of Liberty?

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In 1886, the French government gave the United States the Statue of Liberty as a present to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the American Declaration of Independence. However, the gift served another purpose. During the 1880s, the French Third Republic was experiencing political difficulties, with many citizens wishing to return to a more authoritarian form of government. The gift of the statue was meant to highlight the virtues of republicanism and be a symbol for the French Republic’s ideals.

1 Initial Statue

In 1870, French sculptor and artist Frederic Bartholdi was given the task of designing the statue. He first created a small-scale version that was placed in the Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris.

2 Second Statue

A second small-scale version of the Statue of Liberty was also created in 1870 and sent to Maceio, Brazil.

3 Original Design

Bartholdi’s vision for the Statue of Liberty was a slight reworking of a statue he proposed to the Egyptian leader for placement at the mouth of the Suez Canal in 1867. This proposal included a huge figure of the Roman goddess Libertas serving as a lighthouse. The proposal was not accepted because of financial issues in Egypt.

4 Design Agreement

The French and Americans reached an agreement where the Americans would build the statue’s base and the French would build and assemble the statue.

5 Funding

To pay for the gift, the French government collected public donations and held charity lotteries.

Nacie Carson is a professional development speaker and author who focuses on career evolution, entrepreneurship and the Millennial work experience. Carson's writing has been featured in "Entrepreneur," "Fast Company," "Monster" and "Chicken Soup for the Soul." Her book on adapting your career to the changing job market, "The Finch Effect," was published with Jossey-Bass in May 2012.