The French Gift of Lady Liberty

Today we shine a spotlight on a document that gave the United States one of its most famous monuments.  On the Fourth of July, 1884, the French People presented this deed of gift to Levi Morton, the U.S. Minister to France, officially bestowing America with the colossal “Liberty Enlightening the World.”

“As a souvenir of the unalterable friendship of the two nations.” Deed of Gift for the Statue of Liberty, 1884. From the General Records of the Department of State. National Archives Identifier: 595444

“As a souvenir of the unalterable friendship of the two nations.”
Deed of Gift for the Statue of Liberty, 1884. From the General Records of the Department of State.
National Archives Identifier: 595444

“Liberty Enlightening the World” in 1930’s New York Harbor. Photograph of the Statue of Liberty, 1930. From the Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer. National Archives Identifier: 594414

“Liberty Enlightening the World” in 1930’s New York Harbor.
Photograph of the Statue of Liberty, 1930. From the Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer.
National Archives Identifier: 594414

Sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi created the Statue of Liberty both in honor of the friendship between France and the United States, and to commemorate the centennial of American Independence.  The statue itself is made from 3/32 inch-thick copper and an inner structure of wrought iron and stainless steel.  She measures slightly over 151 feet high, but with the added height of her granite pedestal, Lady Liberty’s total height is around 305 feet.

“Liberty Enlightening the World” was installed on Bedloe’s Island in New York Harbor, 1886, and would later become a beacon of freedom and a symbol of new life to the millions of immigrants who entered the United States through Ellis Island.  Today, Lady Liberty continues to guard New York Harbor on renamed Liberty Island, and welcomes all who pass her watchful gaze and uplifted torch.

You can see more primary sources related to America’s relationship with France throughout history on DocsTeach, our online tool for teaching with documents.

Today’s post came from Holly Chisholm, former social media intern in our Education and Public Programs division.

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