The Statue of Liberty was a gift from the French people commemorating the alliance of France and the United States during the American Revolution. Yet, it represented much more to those individuals who proposed the gift.
The "Father of the Statue of Liberty" was Edouard de Laboulaye, French jurist, poet, author and anti-slavery activist. He provided the idea that would become the Statue. In 1886, The Statue of Liberty was a symbol of democratic government and Enlightenment ideals as well as a celebration of the Union's victory in the American Civil War and the abolition of slavery. Edouard de Laboulaye, the French political thinker, U.S. Constitution expert, and abolitionist, who first proposed the idea of a great monument as a gift from France to the United States was a firm supporter of President Abraham Lincoln and his fight for abolition. Laboulaye saw abolition not only as a way to eliminate immorality, but also as a way to protest repressive tendencies in France.
Auguste Bartholdi was the French sculptor who designed the Statue of Liberty. From 1855 to 1856, Bartholdi embarked on a life-changing trip throughout Europe and the Middle East with some fellow artists. When they visited the Sphinx and Pyramids of Giza in Egypt, Bartholdi discovered his passion for large-scale public monuments and colossal sculptures. In 1869, the Egyptian government expressed interest in designing a lighthouse for the Suez Canal. Eager and excited, Bartholdi designed a colossal statue of a robed woman holding a torch, which he called Egypt (or Progress) Brings Light to Asia. When he attended the canal's inauguration, however, Bartholdi was informed that he would not be able to proceed with the lighthouse. Although disappointed, Bartholdi received a second chance to design a colossal statue. In 1865, Edouard de Laboulaye proposed that a monument representing freedom and democracy be created for the United States. Bartholdi was a great supporter of Laboulaye's idea and in 1870 he began designing the Statue of "Liberty Enlightening the World."
Eugene Viollet-le-Duc was the architect hired to design a support structure for the Statue but replaced with famous Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel, The Eiffel Tower's author.
Richard Morris Hunt was the American architect who designed the pedestal under the Statue's feet.
Joseph Pulitzer and Emma Lazarus helped raise the money needed to complete the pedestal's construction.
Between 1886 and 1924, almost 14 million immigrants entered the United States through New York. The Statue of Liberty was a reassuring sign that they had arrived in the land of their dreams. To these anxious newcomers, the Statue's uplifted torch did not suggest "enlightenment," as her creators intended, but rather, "welcome." Over time, Liberty emerged as the "Mother of Exiles," a symbol of hope to generations of immigrants. President Franklin D. Roosevelt's 1936 speech in honor of the Statue's 50th Anniversary helped solidify the transformation of the Statue into an icon of immigration. From the beginning, the Statue of Liberty has stirred the emotions of ordinary people, and has inspired artists and commercial manufacturers to depict and honor her.