Sandburg's Hometown

July 8, 2013

Edward Moran - Unveiling the Statue of Liberty, 1886.
Edward Moran (1829-1902) - Unveiling the Statue of Liberty (1886)
Museum of the City of New York

Lady Liberty

By Barbara Schock 

On July 4th of last week the Statue of Liberty was reopened to the public after being damaged by Hurricane Sandy. The story behind the monument is an inspiring one and it represents the good relationships between individuals and nations.
The Statue of Liberty was dedicated October 28, 1886. It was sculpted by Frederic Auguste Bartoldi. The statue is made of pure copper over a steel framework. It stands 151 feet tall. The pedestal and foundation underneath add another 154 to the height. The foundation is in the shape of an 11-point star with a rectangular stone pedestal on top of it. Each year more than 4 million visitors go to Liberty Island in New York Harbor to see the great monument.
The statue has become a symbol of freedom and democracy to American citizens as well as people the rest of the world. Every detail of Lady Liberty has a connection to the ideal of freedom and enlightenment, from the torch in her uplifted hand to the broken shackles under her feet. The tablet in her right hand represents knowledge. The date July 4, 1776 is inscribed on it.
The idea of the statue began more than fifteen years before the dedication. The original intention had been to commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. A small scale version of the first statue now stands in the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris. It was created in 1870.
There was money to be raised on both sides of the Atlantic for the construction of the monument. Engineers had to design the support system inside the statue and craftsmen had to be found to fashion the copper sheets. The U.S. Congress authorized use of the site on Bedlow’s Island which had been previously used as a military fort.
In had been agreed that the foundation and pedestal would be paid for by the Americans. In 1883, Joseph Pulitzer, publisher of The World newspaper in New York, lent his support to the project and encouraged his readers to contribute to the fund. That effort was not as successful as it should have been. In 1885, Pulitzer appealed to the school children of the country who were encouraged to contribute their pennies to the building fund. The necessary $100,000 (equal to $280 million in today’s money) needed for completing the platform for Miss Liberty was then accomplished.
The 350 pieces of the statue arrived in New York on June 17, 1885, several months before all the money for building the foundation had been collected. Construction was finished on April 22, 1886. The workmen put the silver coins from their pockets in the mortar between the last stones which completed the pedestal.
The Statue of Liberty served as a light house for maritime traffic from 1886-1902. It was the first electric light house in the nation. The light could be seen for 24 miles.
There are no surviving Galesburg newspapers to tell us whether the local community contributed to the creation of the Statue of Liberty. Surely, there were contributions from Galesburg’s school children for such a heroic lady. Carl Sandburg may have been able to scrape up a penny or two.

Sandburg's Hometown
Date Title
July 8, 2013 Lady Liberty
July 1, 2013 Galesburg's Fourth
June 24, 2013 John H. Finley
June 17, 2013 The World's Columbian Exhibition
June 10, 2013 Fruit Short-Cake
June 3, 2013 Horatio Alger, Author
May 27, 2013 Memorial Day, 1887
May 20, 2013 Professor Jon W. Grubb
May 13, 2013 Beginnings of Lombard University
May 6, 2013 Young Sandburg’s View of Lombard College
April 29, 2013 Thinking
April 22, 2013 Robert Colville, Master Mechanic
April 15, 2013 The Galesburg Opera House
April 8, 2013 Grocery Stores and Sample Rooms
April 1, 2013  A Hearty  Breakfast 
March 25, 2013  The Lost Wallpaper Legend 
March 18, 2013 Martin G. Sandburg
March 4, 2013 The Edison Talking Machine
February 25, 2013 Joe Elser, Civil War Veteran
February 18, 2013 Remember the Maine...
February 11, 2013 Lincoln's Birthday
February 4, 2013 Curiosity