President Grover Cleveland dedicated the Statue of Liberty, a gift of friendship from the people of France to the people of the United States, on October 28, 1886.
The statue was proposed by French historian Edouard de Laboulaye to commemorate the Franco-American alliance during the American Revolution. The statute, designed by French sculptor Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi, was originally known as “Liberty Enlightening the World.”
Congress approved the use of New York Bedloe’s Island as the site for the statue. The statue was sent to the U.S. dismantled. Its copper sheets had to be reassembled in New York.
The pedestal of the statue is inscribed with a sonnet titled “The New Colossus” by American poet Emma Lazarus. The poem reads:
“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-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Lazarus’s famous poem has always reminded me of a less well known quote from George Washington where he says : “I had always hoped that this land might become a safe and agreeable asylum to the virtuous and persecuted part of mankind, to whatever nation they might belong.”