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Tuesday, November 4, 2014


Now in the Library of Congress, the above engraving, based on a drawing by Charles Graham, shows New York Harbor and the Statue of Library illuminated by fireworks to celebrate the statue’s unveiling on Oct. 28, 1886.
WAS THE VICE PRESIDENT BUSY?--In celebration of today being election day in most parts of  the country we can recall one of history’s little known ironies President Grover Cleveland was called upon to lead the dedication ceremonies (October 28, 1886) for the Statue of Liberty in New York.

One of Cleveland’s last official duties as Governor of New York before landing in the White House was to VETO NY state legislation calling for a $50,000 appropriation for the Statue.  President U.S. Grant, who was one of the real champions of the Statue of Liberty had died the year before.

So, we can forgive one of our great, great grandpersons attending the dedication, who happened to shout “Grover, you’re a hypocrite” while The Prez was speaking to the crowd at the Statue's unveiling.  And, lest we forget, we should thank the good people who contributed to publisher Joseph Pulitzer’s fundraising blitz on behalf of statue project.  This is America and the people most often know better than its politicos.  And, this was one of those cases.

OK, we can now put Grover back on the shelves of history where he has been collecting dust.

Lest we forgot, part 2: the SOL was the brainchild of the French historian Edouard de Laboulaye, who came up with the idea in 1865.  SOL designer Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi designed the statue and it was built with help from bit time engineers of the day in Europe, Eugene-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc and Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel, architect of the Eiffel Tower.
Shipped to New York in puzzle pieces, the statue was reassembled on what is now Liberty Island (nee Bedloe’s Island) in New York bay.
The statue stands 151 feet high (on top of a 154-foot-high pedestal) and shows Lady Liberty raising a torch in her right hand and holding in her left hand a tablet inscribed with the date of the publication of the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776.
The big finale (no it was not Grover Cleveland’s speech) occurred on October 28, 1886 when the statue’s designer, Bartholdi, who was perched in the statue’s torch, pulled a rope, which removed a huge French flag from the front of the statue, revealing Lady Liberty’s face to the cheering throngs.
Lady Liberty Sculptor Frederic A. Bartholdi poses in his Paris studio during construction of the statue's left hand.

The period after the Civil War was a time of great transition – and innovation – in the United States. This timeline created for the 1985 Ken Burns documentary shown on PBS shows the progression of the statue – from idea to reality – against the back-drop of contemporary events.
Statue Timeline:
--At dinner party, Edouard Laboulaye, chairman of French anti-slavery society, proposes monument to liberty and U.S. independence in centennial year (1876); sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi attends.
Contemporary Events:
--U.S. Civil War ends, President Abraham Lincoln assassinated; Lewis.
--Carroll publishes "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland";
--trans-Atlantic cable completed.

Statue Timeline:
--Bartholdi proposes huge statue of robed woman holding torch ("Egypt Bringing the Light to Asia") for opening of Suez Canal (1869); idea unsuccessful.
Contemporary Events:
--Russia sells Alaska to United States;
--Karl Marx, "Das Kapital, Part I";
--Johann Strauss composes "The Blue Danube";
--chemist Marie Curie born.

Statue Timeline:
--Bartholdi begins designing sketchy figures of "Liberty" monument            
Contemporary Events:
--Franco-Prussian War begins;
--V.I. Lenin born;
--Charles Dickens dies;
--Jules Verne, "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea"; --Napoleon III surrenders.

F.A. Bartholdi
Statue Timeline:
--Bartholdi seeks Laboulaye's aid in trip to United States, arrives in New York (June); tours country promoting idea of Franco-American monument on Bedloe's Island in New York Harbor.
Contemporary Events:
--Peace of Frankfurt ends Franco-Prussian War;
--George Elliot, "Middlemarch";
--Albert Hall opens in London;
--P. T. Barnum's "Greatest Show on Earth" circus opens in New York.

Statue Timeline:
--Bartholdi returns to France             
Contemporary Events:
--U.S. Grant reelected President;
--James Whistler paints "Whistler's Mother";
--civil war in Spain.

Statue Timeline:
--Franco-American Union created in France, committee approves Bartholdi's plaster model of "Liberty Enlightening the World," begins fundraising 600,000 francs; Laboulaye presents formal request to President U.S. Grant through Ambassador Levi P. Morton to use Bedloe's Island site for monument. 
Contemporary Events:
 --Albert Schweitzer born; Mark Twain, "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer";
--Georges Bizet composes "Carmen";
--Hans Christian Andersen dies;
--Britain buys majority of Suez Canal;
--Captain Matthew Webb first to swim across English Channel.

Statue Timeline:
--Bartholdi begins constructing statue, completes hand and torch, sent to U.S. for display at Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia (August 14); Bartholdi returns to U.S. May 6; hand and torch shipped to New York, displayed at Madison Square.    
Contemporary Events:
--Disputed Tilden-Hayes presidential contest in U.S.;
--Korea becomes independent nation;
--writer Jack London born; writer George Sand dies;
--Alexander Graham Bell invents the telephone;
--U.S. Centennial exposition held in Philadelphia.

Statue Timeline:
--Outgoing President Grant signs bill designating Bedloe's Island for proposed monument (March), U.S. fundraising of $250,000 begins; Tuileries diorama unveiled; Grant visits Paris (November); statue construction continues, French fundraising continues.      
Contemporary Events:
--Rutherford Hayes becomes U.S. president;
--Queen Victoria proclaimed Empress of India;
--Henry James, "The American";
--Thomas Edison invents the phonograph;
--first public telephones in use in U.S.;
--Russia declares war on Turkey.

Statue Timeline:
--Statue's head and shoulders completed, displayed for first time at Paris Universal Exposition; French fundraising continues.      
Contemporary Events:
--Treaty of Berlin;
--Thomas Hardy, "The Return of the Native";
--Gilbert and Sullivan compose "H.M.S. Pinafore";
--Salvation Army takes current name.

Statue Timeline:
--Statue engineer Viollet-le-Duc dies, replaced by Alexander Gustav Eiffel; French fundraising continues.
Contemporary Events:
--French Panama Canal Company chartered;
--Joseph Stalin born;
--Albert Einstein born;
--Henrik Ibsen, "A Doll's House."

Statue Timeline:
--Eiffel designs innovative 98-foot, 120-ton inner framework to support statue; French committee completes fundraising, U.S. fundraising continues.             
Contemporary Events:
--James A. Garfield elected U.S. president;
--Lew Wallace, "Ben Hur";
--educator Helen Keller born;
--Auguste Rodin completes "The Thinker";
--Thomas Edison invents the light bulb.

Gustav Eiffel
Statue Timeline:
--Statue's copper plates completed, first rivet driven by Ambassador Morton at construction site (October 24) ; U.S. fundraising continues.
Contemporary Events:
--U.S. President Garfield assassinated;
--Fyodor Dostoevsky dies;
--Pablo Picasso born;
--Tuskegee Institute founded in Alabama.

Statue Timeline:
--Edouard Laboulaye dies; Ferdinand de Lesseps chairs the Union; French poet Victor Hugo visits the statue, praises its "idea"; statue's arm and torch returned from New York; U.S. fundraising languishes. 
Contemporary Events:
--Triple Alliance formed (Austria, Germany, and Italy);
--Robert Louis Stevenson, "Treasure Island";
--Charles Darwin dies;
--Franklin Delano Roosevelt born;
--Peter Tchaikovsky composes "1812 Overture."

Statue Timeline:
--Statue's assembly continues in Paris; work begins on foundation of pedestal on Bedloe's Island, designed by R. M. Hunt and supervised by General Charles Pomeroy Stone; Joseph Pulitzer purchases New York World newspaper.
Contemporary Events:
--Reform begins of U.S. civil service;
--Benito Mussolini born;
--Franz Kafka born;
--Karl Marx dies;
--Richard Wagner dies;
--first skyscraper built in Chicago (10 stories);
--Brooklyn Bridge opens to traffic in New York.

Statue Timeline:
--Statue completed, formally handed over to U.S. ownership in Paris, accepted by Ambassador Morton; (July 4); first stone laid for pedestal on Bedloe's Island; U.S. fundraising languishes; New York governor. Grover Cleveland vetoes $50,000 state appropriation.  
Contemporary Events:
--Grover Cleveland elected U.S. president;
--Mark Twain, "Huckleberry Finn";
--Oxford English dictionary begins publication;
--Harry Truman born;
--first deep tube (underground railroad), London;
--Sir Charles Parsons invents first practical steam turbine engine.

Statue Timeline:
--Statue disassembled, crated for shipment to U.S.; Joseph Pulitzer undertakes spectacular new push for U.S. fundraising, generates $50,000 in two months; statue crosses the Atlantic in crates, nearly sinks in storm, arrives at Bedloe's Island (June17); Bartholdi arrives in U.S. (November).
Contemporary Events:
--Former president Ulysses S. Grant dies;
--Victor Hugo dies;
--Gilbert and Sullivan compose "The Mikado";
--Louis Pasteur devises anti-rabies vaccine; D. H. Lawrence born;
--Sinclair Lewis born;
--George Eastman
manufactures coated photographic paper;
--golf introduced to America.

U.S. Grant: hero of the Civil War and the Statue of Liberty 
shown in one of the last photos of his life in 1885.

Statue Timeline:
--Pedestal completed; Eiffel's "skeleton" raised; decision is made to light the torch electrically; Statue of Liberty assembled; formal unveiling by Bartholdi at dedication ceremony held on Bedloe's Island (October 28), with President Grover Cleveland presiding.
Contemporary Events:
--Auguste Rodin completes "The Kiss";
--Henry James, "The Bostonians";
--hydroelectric installations begun at Niagara Falls;
--Canadian Pacific Railway completed;
--Bonaparte and Orleans families banished from France.

Statue Timeline:
--Words from Emma Lazarus’ poem "The New Colossus" are added to the base of the statue


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