Bringing the Idea to America

Rendering of Bartholdi's Original Suez Canal proposal " Egypt Bringing the Light to Asia." C.1868 Via Musee Colmar

Rendering of Bartholdi’s Original Suez Canal proposal ” Egypt Bringing the Light to Asia.” C.1868 Via Musee Colmar

With letters of introduction from Laboulaye to many prominent Americans, Bartholdi traversed the United States to garner support for his statuary project, now re-named “Liberty Enlightening the World.”

The statue appeared essentially unchanged from the drawings that Bartholdi prepared for the Suez Canal adornment, pictured at left. But, Bartholdi did re-imagine the figure’s dress for American audiences. Specifically, America’s Lady Liberty wore Greco-Roman drapes instead of Arab peasant garb. He also added a tablet inscribed with the roman numerals for July 4, 1776.

Bartholdi and his new design found favor with such prominent Americans as Horace Greeley, Ulysses S. Grant, Joseph Pulitzer, Charles Sumner ,and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Bartholdi also managed to find the perfect site: a small government owned piece of land at the entrance to New York Harbor called Bedloe’s Island. Despite the apparent interest in the project, however, no one appeared willing to commit financial support.

Still, Bartholdi found enough enthusiasm to return to France for design refinement and fundraising.

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