Updated: Jan 10
In this episode of DC Theadoor’s… Did You KNOW, Teddy shares a Washington Post Article revealing the true historical origin of the Statue of Liberty and how the honor of it being bestowed on the United States for freeing the American Descendants of Slavery (ADOS) was erased from history, then rewritten and reimagined for immigrants.
Origin of the Statue of Liberty
The following is an excerpt from the Washington Post
The Statue of Liberty was created to celebrate freed slaves, not immigrants, its new museum recounts. Lady Liberty was inspired by the end of the Civil War and “emancipation.” The connection to immigration came later.
Ellis Island, the inspection station through which millions of immigrants passed, didn’t open until six years after the statue was unveiled in 1886. The plaque with the famous Emma Lazarus poem — “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” — wasn’t added until 1903.
“One of the first meanings [of the statue] had to do with abolition, but it’s a meaning that didn’t stick,” Edward Berenson, a history professor at New York University and author of the book “The Statue of Liberty: A Transatlantic Story,” said in an interview with The Washington Post.
The monument, which draws 4.5 million visitors a year, was first imagined by a man named Édouard de Laboulaye. In France, he was an expert on the U.S. Constitution and, at the close of the American Civil War, the president of a committee that raised and disbursed funds to newly freed slaves, according to Yasmin Sabina Khan, author of the book “Enlightening the World: The Creation of the Statue of Liberty.”
Laboulaye loved America — often giving speeches described by a New York Times correspondent in 1867 as “feasts of liberty which move the souls of men to their deepest depths” — and he loved it even more when slavery was abolished.
In June 1865, Laboulaye organized a meeting of French abolitionists at his summer home in Versailles, Berenson said.
“They talked about the idea of creating some kind of commemorative gift that would recognize the importance of the liberation of the slaves,” Berenson said.
Laboulaye secured the partnership of sculptor Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi, who took his sweet time developing an idea. An early model, circa 1870, shows Lady Liberty with her right arm in the position we are familiar with, raised and illuminating the world with a torch. But in her left hand she holds broken shackles, an homage to the end of slavery.
One theory has her face being adapted from a statue Bartholdi had proposed for the Suez Canal, meaning her visage could resemble that of an Egyptian woman. The Times reported she was based on the Roman goddess Libertas, who typically wore the type of cap worn by freed Roman slaves.
In the final model, Lady Liberty holds a tablet inscribed with the Roman numerals for July 4, 1776. The broken chains are still there though, beneath her feet, “but they’re not all that visible,” Berenson said.
Bartholdi made a number of trips to the U.S. to whip up support for his colossal structure, according to the National Park Service. And sailing into New York Harbor, he spotted the perfect location for it: Bedloe’s Island, then occupied by the crumbling Fort Wood.
Fundraising in both France and the United States took a while, and according to the NPS, Bartholdi cast the project in the broadest terms possible to widen the net of potential donors. He also built the torch-bearing arm to tour around and inspire people to open up their wallets.
Bartholdi finished building the statue in Paris in 1884. Two years later, he oversaw its reconstruction in New York. “Liberty Enlightening the World” was “unveiled” on Oct. 28, 1886 — but that did not involve a very big sheet. Instead, there were fireworks, a military parade, and Bartholdi climbing to the top and pulling a French flag from his muse’s face.
By then, “the original meaning of the abolition of slavery had pretty much gotten lost,” Berenson said, going unmentioned in newspaper coverage.
In fact, black newspapers railed against it as meaningless and hypocritical. By 1886, Reconstruction had been crushed, the Supreme Court had rolled back civil rights protections, and Jim Crow laws were tightening their grip.
In his book, Berenson quotes an 1886 editorial in the black newspaper the Cleveland Gazette: “Shove the Bartholdi statue, torch and all, into the ocean until the ‘liberty’ of this country is such as to make it possible for an industrious and inoffensive colored man in the South to earn a respectable living for himself and family … The idea of the ‘liberty’ of this country ‘enlightening the world,’ or even Patagonia, is ridiculous in the extreme.”
W.E.B. Du Bois also mentioned this in his autobiography, recalling seeing the statue upon arriving back in the United States in 1894 after two years in Europe: “I know not what multitude of emotions surged in the others, but I had to recall [a] mischievous little French girl whose eyes twinkled as she said: ‘Oh, yes, the Statue of Liberty! With its back toward America, and its face toward France!’”
There were immigrants on board that ship with Du Bois, but he didn’t talk to any of them. The ship was segregated.
NOW… Lady Liberty is about ADOS, you just didn’t know. They took ADOS out and put immigrants in!!! Moreover at that time, immigrants were mostly European. I reiterate they TOOK US OUT of the liberty and freedom conversation and gave us prison and oppression.
Think… “IF” Lady Liberty represents ADOS and she’s in the waters of one of the richest cities in the U.S. -- New York and it represents ADOS; it becomes a condemnation of America’s promise to ADOS, with “freedom” and the ending of the Civil War, it becomes a condemnation. So they had to give Lady Liberty to someone else. Why? “Because if you’re going to design a society…(which has happened)... where ADOS eat the failure and we’re the BOTTOM CASTE, you can not have Lady Liberty represent ADOS.”
Yvette D. Carnell, Breaking Brown
So they have to lie!!!! That’s the only way they can make that work, other than that Lady Liberty is a condemnation on the PROMISE of freedom and liberty that this country’s supposed to stand for. Especially for its citizens at the bottom and who were deliberately placed at the bottom for the sake of the capital.
“YOU DON’T OVERSTAND what happens when the Statue of Liberty is STOLEN from you, this might be one of the greatest cultural thefts in American history. For The Statue of Liberty to be re-cast in the image of immigration and to recast the view of a nation from ADOS to a global perspective, is one of the most awful things I've heard in a long time.”
Antonio Moore, Tone Talks
That’s What Happened… So if you didn’t know, now you know…