“Hail, Liberty!”

engraving of immigrants

Published in Frank’s Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, July 2, 1887 

From American Heritage by David McCullough:

Its size alone no doubt would have been enough to guarantee the Statue of Liberty affection right from the start in 1886, the year it was completed. Bigger was surely better in the eyes of most American beholders in that expansive era. When young Theodore Roosevelt of New York, a candidate for mayor the same year, affirmed that big things were in the spirit of the times and a fact of American life, he was addressing a small-town Fourth-of-July crowd in the Dakota Territory, but he could have been speaking for almost anyone, anywhere in the country. “Like all Americans, I like big things,” he said, “big prairies, big forests and mountains, big wheat fields, railroads, herds of cattle, too-big factories, steamboats, and everything else.”

Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, the resolute genius of the great work, observed in a letter home, “Everything is big here – even the peas. . . .” As a Frenchman, he preferred his peas small. He also had some difficulty liking Americans, who, by his lights, were deficient in taste and charm. Still, for a land of such expanse, he could envision only a statue of “colossal proportions,” of “extraordinary proportions.”

Read the rest of the article at American Heritage

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