here to see it.)
In the country that boasts of freedom for everyone "equality and justice for all" D. Trump has now banned the resettlement of refugees, children and sick people. "There are tears running down the cheeks of the Statue of Liberty tonight" said Chuck Schumer, the US senator from New York. He is right, and the Statue of Liberty does not represent America anymore - an America of days gone by, maybe, but bigotry and fear have taken over now. She might as well be fired by President Trump, as a resident alien from France. Nowadays Europe is taking in seven times as many refugees as the United States does, so shouldn't she rather be in Europe? Earlier I had seen ironic tweets from France such as this "tu peux nous renvoyer la Statue de la Liberté par post stp ? Merci. "(Can you return the Statue of Liberty by post, please? Thanks.) Here is a new one: "y'a moyen que la France récupère sa Statue de la Liberté? Elle leur sert pas à grand chose là." (Is it possible for France to recover her Statue of Liberty? She does not seem to be of much use over there.) Initially, it was a gift to the USA by the French people as a symbol of freedom for all.
There is a small replica of the Statue of Liberty in Paris on the border of the Seine River. Not long ago someone placed a black veil on her head and wrote at her base "freedom in mourning." The Paris Police and a Paris Fire Brigade had to come to remove the shroud.
All these executive actions have been quite negative. But, on the flip side, it has proven great material for comedians. D. Trump said in his inaugural address: "From this day forward, it's going to be only America first. America first." This has appealed to comedians everywhere. After the "America First" speech, the Dutch TV made a satirical show asking that the Netherlands be "second" (click here) then Denmark (click here) then Belgium (click here) then Luxembourg (click here) then Kazakhstan (click here) then Portugal, Lithuania, Finland, Italy, Bosnia, Morocco and more are coming up (I can't keep up.) Croatia is asking to be third (click here) Below is the message from Switzerland:
Well, that is where we currently stand in the former country of freedom for all. As D. Trump would say "so sad." Comic relief helps - It's Great!
But let's return to the Statue of Liberty, and her beginnings. As you may know it was designed and built by Frederic Auguste Bartholdi (French, 1834-1904.) Bartholdi was a young sculptor from the region of Alsace, France. When he was 21 years old he made a long trip (1855-56) to Egypt and Yemen with his friend the painter Jean-Leon Gerome (French, 1824-1904.) They both were in awe of the colossal statues in Egypt. Gerome wanted to show them in his paintings, and he did. Bartholdi, after visiting the Nubian monuments at Abu Simbel, where immense statues guard the tombs, had developed a passion for colossal statues and huge public monuments. Below is The Colossi of Memmon by Gerome and the portraits of Gerome, top, and Bartholdi, bottom picture.
The Suez Canal in Egypt (this has a connection to Bartholdi) was constructed between 1859 and 1869 thanks to a giant fund raising on the Paris Stock Exchange under the direction of retired French diplomat Ferdinand de Lesseps; Emperor Napoleon III of France (nephew of Napoleon I) was a big sponsor of this huge maritime project. The Canal was inaugurated by his wife, French Empress Eugenie, on November 17, 1869, with a performance of the opera Aida by Verdi. Below are portraits of Emperor Napoleon III (1808-1873) and his wife, Empress Eugenie of Montijo (1826-1920) both painted by Franz Xaver Winterhalter (1805-1873.)
Below is a painting showing the inauguration of the Suez Canal by French painter Edouard Riou (1838-1900.)
In 1865 Frederic Bartholdi had agreed to come up with an idea of a monument to be given to the USA from the people of France. (You can read about this history in my post of July 4, 2009 "4th July and Statue of Liberty." There are more posts mentioning the Statue of Liberty, see her name on the side of my blog) But first, Bartholdi thought of designing a gigantic female fellah (Arab peasant) statue that would be placed at the entrance of the Suez Canal and serve as a lighthouse. In April 1869 Bartholdi went back to Egypt and brought his statue prototype to Ismail Pacha, the khedive of Egypt. His statue was a freed Egyptian female slave, rising, unshackled, above the Suez Canal, holding a glowing torch to announce that Egypt was a country of freedom. He called it "Egypt brings Light to Asia" (as it opened a faster transit to Asia.) But the khedive, who was short on funds, declined. Below is a water color of the proposed statue of this Muslim Lady of Liberty offered to Egypt for the Suez Canal (courtesy Bartholdi Museum, France.)
Next Bartholdi started working on the monument to be given to the USA that was to be representing "Liberty Enlightening the World." He went back to his original Egyptian statue and, based on that design, worked on several sketches to redefine the statue as a goddess, changing its oriental dress with a classical toga and naming it "Libertas" or "Lady Liberty" as it had been decided that this gift should be representative of "liberté" the French word for "freedom."
Now you know the rest of the Statue of Liberty's story (or its beginning) and why she started as a Muslim freed slave. This story is not well known in the US and would not please the anti-Muslim supporters; but can you grasp the irony, though? (Below Currier and Ives print.)
In 1886, the people of France gave the Statue of Liberty to the USA in celebration of the 100th Anniversary of America's Independence. This was given in friendship and in honor of the Franco-American alliance as well as the friendship built during the war of American Independence. Below is Statue of Liberty's Celebration by Frederick Rondon, American (1826-1892.)
The statue was dedicated on 28 October, 1886, with a 21-gun salute from warships in the New York harbor. President Grover Cleveland was present on Bedloe's Island for the dedication ceremony. Liberty had her torch raised to the sky and the tablet of the law inscribed with the date of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence: 4 July, 1776. Below is the painting of Edward Moran, American (1828-1901) who was present that day - Unveiling the Statue of Liberty.
"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-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
- Emma Lazarus, 1883
Qui en rangs serrés aspirent à vivre libres,
Le rebut de tes rivages surpeuplés,
Envoie-les moi, les déshérités, que la tempête m'apporte
De ma lumière, j'éclaire la porte d'or !