U.S. #696 – The Statue of Liberty has welcomed over 12 million immigrants passing through New York harbor.

Grover Cleveland Dedicates Statue of Liberty

On October 28, 1886, the Statue of Liberty was completed and dedicated.

French politician and writer Édouard René de Laboulaye was one of the first to suggest giving America a gift to mark the centennial of the American Declaration of Independence. French sculptor Frédéric Bartholdi designed the sculpture and Gustave Eiffel (designer of the Eiffel Tower) designed the iron pylon and skeletal framework of the statue.

Item #M10962 –pictures Bartholdi and the statue at various stages of its construction.

To fund the statue, the people of France made public donations. Performances were also used to raise money, including La liberté éclairant le monde (Liberty enlightening the world) by future famous composer Charles Gounod. In all, $250,000 was raised. Similarly, the U.S. – which had agreed to build the statue’s base – held several benefit events, art exhibitions, auctions and prizefights to raise money.

Although Laboulaye initially planned to present the statue to America in 1876, a late start and several delays made this impossible. The right arm and torch were completed in time, and were put on display at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. The statue was completed in France in 1884 and shipped to America in 350 separate parts. It arrived in June 1886 and was reassembled while electricians worked on lighting the torch.

The last piece was riveted in place during the dedication ceremony on October 28, 1886. President Grover Cleveland presided over the ceremony and delivered a stirring speech:

U.S. #564 – President Grover Cleveland accepted the statue on behalf of the American people.

“We are not here today to bow before the representation of a fierce warlike god, filled with wrath and vengeance, but we joyously contemplate instead our own deity keeping watch and ward before the open gates of America and greater than all that have been celebrated in ancient song. Instead of grasping in her hand thunderbolts of terror and of death, she holds aloft the light which illumines the way to man’s enfranchisement. We will not forget that Liberty has here made her home, nor shall her chosen altar be neglected. Willing votaries will constantly keep alive its fires and these shall gleam upon the shores of our sister Republic thence, and joined with answering rays a stream of light shall pierce the darkness of ignorance and man’s oppression, until Liberty enlightens the world.”

U.S. #1594 – The statue served as a functional lighthouse for its first five years.

The dedication ceremony was followed by a fireworks display and New York City’s first ticker tape parade. The 151-foot copper statue was modeled in a classic Roman style based on Libertas, the ancient Roman goddess of freedom from slavery, oppression, and tyranny. The crown of seven spikes represents the Seven Seas and the seven continents, while the torch symbolizes enlightenment. Lady Liberty holds a tablet that is representative of knowledge, and reads “July 4, 1776,” the date of the Declaration of Independence.

Historians debate who Liberty’s face is modeled after, but it’s likely one of two women. Some believe it was Isabella Eugene Boyer, the recently widowed wife of Isaac Singer, creator of the Singer sewing machine. Others believe the statue was modeled after sculptor Frédéric Bartholdi’s mother, Charlotte Bartholdi.

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  1. Small wonder that Lady Liberty has not bent her head in shame while smothering the guiding light. I feel there are too many would wish by deeds and actions that Lady Liberty would disappear forever. You know who they are. Denying Voters Rights on trumped up charges of fraud is one of their tools. Another tool is denying Religious Freedom of some by those who claim it is their Religious Freedom to do so! There is more, but I keep thinking about those who have paid the price for our FREEDOM and LIBERTY. I ask myself again and again: “Are we under attack from within?” “WAS IT A WASTE?”

    1. What a great comment by MSGT MEL
      That … ” Lady Liberty would disappear forever”
      How sad it is, after so many have given their lives fighting for our freedoms.
      What has happened to US?

    2. Lighten up. These wonderful and informative history lesson are not a reason to storm the baracades. They are just a momentary diversion from an already stressful day. Chill.

    3. No Master Sargent. America’s Enemies Are No Match for our Resilience. The Men and Women who have gone before us in the name of Freedom, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness have fulfilled a duty that cannot be measured in pounds or ounces, wins or losses….because, as you know, the Honor for Duty is just that. I suggest you may have the Media Hounds barking about the indications you point to.

      I like to remember FDR’s Famous Quote, “The Only Thing We Have To Fear, Is Fear Itself.” And JFK’s Retrospect, “Ask Not What Your Country Can Do For You, Ask What You Can Do For Your Country.” He is talking about “We” the “People.”

      I think I can speak for the Good Citizens of this Wonderful Nation when I say, “To All Service Members We Emphatically Thank You and Your Families For your Service, Duty and Sacrifices. I believe that’s what French sculptor Frédéric Bartholdi, who designed the sculpture along with Gustave Eiffel, Creators of Lady Liberty intentions.

      Citizens make sacrifices all the time. Give and Take. In the acts of sacrifice, that’s what the Statute was meant to impress upon Our Lady Liberty’s gazers. Written In stone: “Bring Us Your Tired, Your Hungry and Your Poor.” I love this song and always remember the words, “America The Beautiful….Land That I Love. Stand Beside Her and Guide Her, With The Help From the Lamp Up Above”. Good Day Master Sargent. I hope this clears the view for you.

    4. Freedom is a noble ideal and many have sacrificed for this cause. It is a shame that some have taken selfish advantage of the generosity of this country.

    1. There isn’t enough time to teach it–not after a full day of social studies (gay rights), earth science (global warming), thespian studies (Who was on American Idol last night?), economics (What is the next iPhone going to cost?), politics (republicans bad … democrats good), language arts (THEY don’t have to learn English, and so that means YOU have to learn THEIR language.), nutrition and health (butter bad … lettuce good).

      1. Hello Scott! I live in a very RED state. Our son is a teacher (15 + years), so I have seen the results. Our state has been over managing the education system by setting agendas and standards. The teachers have been “under the gun” to the point that they have been forced to “Teach the Test”. Our state even has a (very conservative) review board that judges and recommends text books based on conservative standards (truth is not a consideration). The items you mention might be taught in the negative context (social studies – anti gay rights) (earth science – anti global warming). Humm? I did not know that Gays had no “RIGHTS or FREEDOMS”. Maybe Only W. A. S. P. have those LIBERTIES! (White Angelo Saxon Protestant) Who is against teaching about good Nutrition and Health? Soda Pop is good for you and Milk is bad? Processed food? The kind of stuff that only the poor can afford! Jesus! When will I stop speaking to a wall? (By the way – That is a prayer!)

  2. Truly a great peek into the past and at the same time, a reality check of our present. Thank you Mystic.

  3. It is a real treat to see these different stamps and the history story that identifies the time in our history.

  4. I had never seen or heard the dedication speech of President Cleveland. Once again I am sure you have enlightened many of us. This was a shining example of what countries and mankind can do to cooperate and make our lives better and complete. Well done Mystic researchers.

  5. Amazing that two nations ( France and US) would collaborate on such a tremendous project! I doubt that it could be duplicated today. Thanks for creating this site and keep up the effort.

  6. Great information on Lady Liberty. It was good to read the dedication speech by President Cleveland, I never read it before. Liberty and freedom always come at a high price on the battlefield and in the halls of Congress, and we must always be vigilant and aware of those who will take it for granted and use it for their own gains; fighting against them through voting, letters, petitions and other forms of political activism and supporting our troops when they are engaged in conflict here and abroad. Good comments everyone and thanks Mystic for this daily look at our history as a nation and as part of the global community.

  7. Another fantastic history lesson … and great responses … which I also thought were interesting to read. Thank you, Mystic !!

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