Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Lady Liberty

A footnote from history by Stephanie Grace Whitson.

"...the ferry passes near Bledsoe's Island, soon to be graced by a very significant monument ... It's over three hundred feet high. Named 'Liberty Enlightening the World,' the figure of a woman holding high a lighted torch. They expect the light to be visible from fifty miles at sea." 

Those are the words that introduced my imaginary friend Liberty Belle to Buffalo Bill's Wild West and her chance to ride in the parade the day the Statue of Liberty was dedicated in New York. The dedication included a parade, fireworks (which had to be postponed) and a speech by President Grover Cleveland.

Lady Liberty was the brainchild of French sculptor, Frederic August Bartholdi, who was inspired by an 1865 after-dinner conversation with another Frenchman who was a supporter of the Union during the American Civil War. That conversation introduced the idea that perhaps a joint project (between France and the United States) would inspire the French to champion democracy over the repressive regime of Napoleon III. 

Creating the statue was slow going. Bartholdi would cross the Atlantic in search of a site in 1871, a year after creating his first working model. Eventually, it was decided that the French would finance the statue, while the U.S. would provide a site and pay for the pedestal. In 1876, the arm and torch were displayed at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, moving to Madison Square Park in Manhattan until 1882. In 1878, the head was on view at the Paris World's Fair. 

Fundraising was difficult and by 1885 work on the pedestal was threatened due to lack of funds. Joseph Pulitzer began a drive for donations and almost 120,000 responded ... with less than a dollar each. At last, Lady Liberty arrived ... in pieces. She was dedicated in 1886 and remains one of our most beloved landmarks. 

Have you visited Liberty Enlightening the World?

What's your favorite U.S. landmark?


In Stephanie's novel Belle of the Wild West (previously published as Unbridled Dreams), a Nebraska gal gets a chance to live her dream, performing with Buffalo Bill's Wild West during the summer of 1886, when the Wild West camped on Staten Island. Performers (including Native Americans in full regalia) rode the ferry daily to reach the performance venue at Madison Square Gardens.

Watch for the announcement of this book's re-release (first time as an ebook!) by visiting Stephanie's Facebook page or subscribe to receive book announcements at


  1. I've never seen the Statue of Liberty, but I've heard it's an awesome sight. I don't really have a favorite monument, but the one that touched me most was the Korean War Memorial in Washington D.C. As I walked along beside, it seemed as though the eyes of the soldiers were following me to the place where I sat down just to look at. The facial expressions are so real, and because I knew a young man killed in that war, my heart cried for all those who didn't come home. They were just statues, but they represented real men who sacrificed their lives. As a writer, I really let my imagination soar. I'll never forget it.

    1. I remember a similar experience when visiting the Vietnam memorial, Martha. All those beautiful boys ...

  2. PS: I love the cover of your book. I'll have to get it. :)

  3. I've never seen Lady Liberty. I learned a lot about her recently when I wrote and article geared towards kids about her, Uncle Sam and Betsy Ross for a regional magazine. I've always wanted to see Mount Rushmore.

    1. I haven't seen Lady Liberty either, but how I'd love to. Your article sounds like a good read! This past year I read a biography of Betsy Ross and I learned a lot about early life in America. Mount Rushmore is within a reasonable drive of my Nebraska home, and after my first husband died, I took my youngest son on a trip to Devil's Tower and Mount Rushmore. Unforgettable. I hope you get to see it someday!

  4. This is one of the places I hope to see before I die. I had to learn "Give me your tired, your poor" in eighth grade and I still get goosebumps! I think The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and Arlington Cemetery are the two places that have left their marks on my memory. Thanks for a great post!