It was 1865 when Frenchman Édouard de Laboulaye proposed the idea of presenting a monumental gift from the people of France to the people of the United States. An ardent supporter of America, Laboulaye wished to commemorate the centennial of the Declaration of Independence as well as celebrate the close relationship between France and America. He was equally moved by the recent abolition of slavery in the U.S., which furthered America’s ideals of liberty and freedom.
Sculptor Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi was in attendance for Laboulaye’s proclamation. Of like mind with Laboulaye’s cause, Bartholdi began conceptualizing the colossal structure that would soon be known as Liberty Enlightening the World.
Bartholdi’s design encompassed much symbolism: her crown representing light with its spikes evoking sun rays extending out to the world; the tablet, inscribed with July 4, 1776 in Roman numerals, noting American independence; to symbolize the end of slavery, Bartholdi placed a broken shackle and chains at the Statue’s foot.