In respect to Black History Month, I ask all of you to weigh in your thoughts. I saw and read the following:
THE FIRST STATUE OF LIBERTY GIVEN TO THE U.S. BY FRANCE WAS A BLACK WOMAN THAT THE U.S. TURNED DOWN, SO THE FRENCH MADE ANOTHER WHICH IS THE CURRENT IN THE N.Y. HARBOR.
He says that what stimulated the idea for the creation of the statue initially was the part that Black soldiers played in the ending of Black African Bondage in the United States. It was created in the mind of the French historian Edourd de Laboulaye, chairman of the French Anti-Slavery Society, who, together with sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, proposed to the French government that the people of France present to the people of the United States through the American Abolitionist Society, the gift of a Statue of Liberty in recognition of the fact that Black soldiers won the Civil War in the United States. It was widely known then that it was Black soldiers who played the pivotal role in winning the war, and this gift would be a tribute to their prowess.
When the statue was presented to the U.S. Minister to France in 1884, it is said that he remonstrated that the dominant view of the broken hackles would be offensive to a U.S. South, because since the statue was a reminder of Blacks winning their freedom. It was a reminder to a beaten South of the ones who caused their defeat, their despised former captives.
Of course after reading that, I wanted to do more research. I came across further information that suggests the “original” statue pictured on the left was actually originally intended to be for Eygpt around the same time. According to some, when Egypt turned down the statue, the French changed the face of Lady Liberty (to be modeled after the creator’s mother) and gifted the statue to the United States.
Which story do you believe? If we assume the first story to be true, how does that alter your perception of the statue and what it represents? If we assume the second story to be true, do you believe it was necessary for them to change Liberty’s face in order to increase the likelihood that the United States would accept it?
Share your thoughts!