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by Prof. Greg Jackson
History That Doesn't Suck

93: La Liberté éclairant le monde: Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi’s Statue of Liberty


“Vive l’entente fraternelle des deux républiques !”
This is the story of the Statue of Liberty. In 1865, Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi (or “Auguste,” as his friends call him), claims to have attended a dinner at which his French colleagues and friends feted the United States’ victory over the Confederacy and slavery. With hope for a restoration of republican government and greater liberty at home, these Frenchmen living under the rule of Napoleon III spoke of the United States and France’s shared sense of liberty. There was even a suggestion that the nations should jointly build a monument to American independence.
Years later, Auguste will undertake such a project. But is he really inspired by this dinner and the idea of liberty? Or is he just an ambitious sculptor looking for any excuse to build a colossus statue? And can he really raise funds in both countries, manage a massive workforce, handle the death of colleagues, and overcome the engineering challenges? Whatever his motives, Auguste’s life will ultimately be defined by his unlikely journey to create a monument unlike any the world has ever seen.
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by Prof. Greg Jackson