“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free...I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” From Emma Lazarus’ tribute to the Statue of Liberty, these words have become the call to the people of the world to find hope and freedom in America.
French politician and writer Édouard René de Laboulaye was one of the first to suggest giving America a gift to mark the centennial of the Declaration of Independence. French sculptor Frédéric Bartholdi designed the sculpture and Gustave Eiffel designed the iron pylon and skeletal framework of the statue.
To fund the statue, French citizens made donations. Money from performances also contributed, including Charles Gounod’s opera, Liberty Enlightening the World. In all, $250,000 was raised. The U.S. held benefits, art exhibits, auctions, and prizefights to raise money as well.
The statue was made in a classic Roman style based on Libertas, the Roman goddess of freedom from slavery and tyranny. The model for Liberty’s face was either Isabella Eugenie Boyer (widow of inventor Isaac Singer) or Bartholdi’s mother, Charlotte. Liberty’s right foot is raised, showing that she is not stationary, but moving forward. Her left foot steps on broken shackles, showing the American dream to be free from oppression. Her crown of seven spikes symbolizes the Seven Seas and the seven continents, while her torch embodies enlightenment.