As the Civil War neared its end around 1865, a French historian named Edouard de Laboulaye suggested that France should build a statue to celebrate America’s hard-won independence from England. The project was given to a sculptor named Frederic Auguste Bartholdi. It was supposed to be finished in time for the 100th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in 1876. The agreement was that the French would build the statue and the United States would build the pedestal it would be placed upon.
The statue was completed in 1885 and then taken apart and put into more than 200 crates to ship to New York. It took four months to put it back together and place it on the pedestal. President Grover Cleveland officially dedicated the Statue of Liberty on Oct. 28, 1886.
“Give me your tired, your poor
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”