Long before there was a Lady Liberty or Uncle Sam, there was Amérique, who later became known as Columbia. In the 1500s, European explorers visited the unknown that later became known as America and started sending home descriptions of what they saw. It was at this time that some European artists created a figure to stand for the New World, naming her Amérique. She was considered a queen that represented the land, just as Asia and Africa had their own characters and the U.K. had Britannia.
Lady Amérique Inspires Settlers
During the Revolutionary War, Amérique remained a symbol for the settlers, visually reminding them that they were different than those from England.
Lady Amérique Becomes Lady Columbia
By the late 1700s, Amérique had completely changed to a woman with golden hair, dressed in white or wearing stars and stripes. People used the name Columbia, which came from Christopher Columbus.
In 1920, the 19th Amendment was ratified – and not long after, Lady Columbia was all but forgotten. Lady Liberty, or the Statue of Liberty, soon took her place. But Columbia’s centuries of inspiration and symbolism should never be forgotten.