Dinner at Laboulaye’s

The idea behind the Statue of Liberty was conceived of at a dinner party outside Paris in 1865.

Given by Edouard Rene Lefebvre de Laboulaye, a French liberal leader, the gathering brought together individuals who were disillusioned with the dictatorial rule of Napoleon III and dedicated to the creation of a French Republic. Attendees, including soon to be liberty sculptor Frédéric Bartholdi, reportedly discussed their admiration for America’s success in establishing a democratic republic.

Édouard Laboulaye ,1811-1883

Édouard Laboulaye ,1811-1883

Laboulaye suggested that the French people offer a monumental gift to the American peoplein order to commemorate America’s upcoming 1876 centennial. Such a gift would honor the American commitment to freedom, and cement a close relationship with the like-minded people of France. The group also thought that such a gift might inspire the American people to support the French in future struggles for freedom, similar to the way that the French had supported the Americans during the Revolution.

While the idea would not take serious form for years to come, the notion struck a chord with Bartholdi.

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