Funding of the Statue of Liberty

For such a huge project, we need sustainable financing. One of the Statue of Liberty was difficult to achieve, especially since it is not one but two financing had to be done: One in France, to pay for the statue itself, and the other in the US to pay the base.

In France, these are the gifts that launched this project. A massive fundraising was launched in 1875 and continued until 1880, the initial invoice has been multiplied by 2 and a half. Thousands of individuals have joined many organizations and French administrations concerned with the image of their country against foreigners. Total funding totaled 1,000,000 francs at the time, a very large sum of course. To help show its funding was made in Paris for the Universal Exhibition of 1878, the head of the statue, in the Campus Martius.

US funding was intended only for the construction of the pedestal, which was borne by the US but cost just as much as the statue itself (125 000 for the original price). Again it was funded by many individuals and some companies and by festivals or sporting events (including boxing matches)

French side financing

1865-1875: An unfavorable context

French side, the financing of the Statue of Liberty was not that easy to complete. We must return to the context of the time to be convinced. When the idea of the construction of the statue was issued in 1865 there was only a vague project, interesting but that was part of a future not so concrete as that. When Bartholdi could look a little more seriously on that construction, he fell ill: The authoritarian government of Napoleon III, then head of government, prevented him from implementing a project statue of criticizing her regime, which was the hidden purpose the statue. The power of monarchical support in France was scuppered any attempt to public funding. Then, in 1870, the Franco-Prussian war broke out, leaving the land fallow. Bartholdi chooses exile in the United States, as much to escape her occupied country to discover that this young nation and to build relationships that allow him to make her statue. When he returned after the historic episode of the town is completed, the MacMahon government was still strong monarchical power. It took until 1875 for the Republican ideas are strong enough in the opinion that the government tends toward more openness, and he dismisses 1876 MacMahon. So it is not until the mid 1870s that the project of the Statue of Liberty was able to do.

In 1874 Bartholdi had begun the work, those of the torch and hand of the statue. The idea was to start with representative elements that can mark the opinion. This work was funded with an initial donation campaign, rather meager. I must say that the French are not adhered to the project, in fact he did not see why they should participate in the financing of a huge statue built in the United States, a country that has turned its back to France during the war 1870 forgetting a little faster than it is France that allowed him to obtain its independence. And the mid-1870s is the beginning of an economic crisis in France, neighboring European countries taking more weight on the international economic market than France. This makes the middle class did not want to participate in the donation campaign.

1875-1880: Fundraising

Edouard de Laboulaye, the initiator of the project - Republican convinced - then used the power of her rich friends. He created a committee, the French-American Union, composed of personalities relevant to the United States. This group used the press to publicize the project and brought the funds to project continuity, but in a reasonable share. The press campaign bore fruit, but weakly. By dint of speaking of a statue in the bay of New York and do make a precise description, to show sketches, the statue appeared familiar to the French who do not see the point of paying for something that seemed already exist. No, the funding was a sum of small holdings, which in November 1875 Gala Dinner much assured. That day was organized a patriotic dinner during which the statue was magnified. The fervor that pulled away from this event encouraged guests to pay a participation which rose to a fifth of needs. Another event was organized later, a concert at the Paris Opera, but this one was a resounding flop. Given the success of the press dinner, who had been invited, multiplied calls for donations. The statue was becoming increasingly well known, but it is not as long as it was paid. Worse, in 1876, there was nothing on hand, and Bartholdi himself confessed that he was thinking of stopping the project. Only the right arm, the head and the torch had been made. The sculptor then had a great idea, and it concerned the United States.

Exposure of the 1876 centennial

The arm at the 1876 exhibition

The arm at the 1876 exhibition

The exhibition of 1876 was a centennial event held in Philadelphia to celebrate the centenary of the Independence of the United States. It was also a boon for Bartholdi. The organizers, with whom he was in contact since her first trip, in 1871, proposed to participate by exposing the parts already completed the statue. To plead her case and prove to the Americans that the project is not a utopia, it brought from France the first elements. Thus the arm holding the torch was exposed, proving that the work progressed. Bartholdi built a shop and during the exhibition Americans bought many photographs or objects "marketing" (at a time when we do not use that word). It had two important interests: Firstly it has ensured the financing of the statue and its pedestal, on the other hand it has made known the statue of the American public, which effectively saw the gift France to their country. The arm holding the torch remained in Philadelphia during the last weeks of the exhibition, before being exhibited in New York, where again he received a warm welcome from the locals. Bartholdi had seen the rivalry between New York and cities of Philadelphia, and showing the statue in both he encouraged each party to give more than its rival, increasing significantly the funding. During the exhibition there were other event. The composer Offenbach was invited to celebrate the future statue, he made a story in her book "Notes of a traveling musician."

The arm thus exposed had a great success. The estimates lead to a total of 10 million visitors, which is just phenomenal: It represents 20% of the population of the United States!

Head to the 1878 exhibition

Head to the 1878 exhibition

Bartholdi met in Philadelphia a talented architect, author of many buildings on the East Coast, all for the most wealthy: Morris Hunt. It will be the architect of the pedestal of the statue, when its funding is secured. Meanwhile, he built the main hall of the exhibition, a beautiful white building with dome.

Following funding

If the centenary exhibition was a success for the financing of the Statue of Liberty Bartholdi, back in France, had the idea of ​​applying the methods used in the United States. He contacted the press, and he published articles encouraging Parisians to visit the workshops Monduits to see the construction of the statue. He exposed his arm to the Champs Elysees, during the Universal Exhibition, and when the statue was mounted there, allowing the visitors to climb the steps to the inner crown. He made also publish postcards, pictures, and even a sort of statue of slide show in New York Bay, an innovative technique at a time when the cinema had not yet been invented and that allowed viewers project on site, at a time does not exist, one where the statue stands in the sky. For a small fee Parisian adhered to the idea and did not hesitate to shell out money for such benefits. Finally, if the French did not want to pay to build the statue, they paid for services that were the dream, but Bartholdi, it was the same thing: The construction of the statue could continue.

To permanently complete the financing is a big lottery was held, a national lottery. The prizes to be won were paintings, works of art, just everything related to art in the general sense. This was also a success, and it has ensured the remainder.

American side financing


American side financing was much more laborious ... I must say they did not see the interest of building a statue in honor of Liberty on their soil, especially as proposed by France . There were several reasons for that: First of all the feeling of freedom was innate in the Americans, they had fought less than a century ago to get rid of the tutelage of England, they therefore did not need that we remind them of the importance of freedom through a monument. Then the French were not well seen in the United States. History proves that it is a pity, because precisely it is the French who gave the victory to the Americans against the English during the war of independence, but it was a fact. In fact do not see Americans as a whole because at that time the United States emerged from a civil war five years, the famous Civil War. Both sides were far from unified, and each had her own reasons to love or not France. In the South, slavery, the US did not like France because she had voted to abolish slavery in 1848 during their revolution. They were afraid that abolitionism is contagious, if the two countries closer. In the North, Americans were rather closer to the Empire Prussia enemy of France who declare war on him in 1870. It must be said that the United States had a strong German community, larger and more active than the community French. The French were so misunderstood, and to make available a holder of a French grand project without purpose, and requiring heavy funding, no wonder the American people was against the project.

However when Augustus Bartholdi came to the United States for her first trip in 1871, he effected travel at once to find a location for her future statue, build relationships with US counterparts and flee her country occupied by the Prussians, it is not dismounted and sought at all costs to convince the utility of the project. There comes only with the aid of press personalities like Pulitzer, but also to her actions there. He became known for europophiles US, was introduced in the rich community of the east coast and made trips to Philadelphia and Washington. He even met with President Grant, who was not especially excited about the project. In Philadelphia he was introduced to "the Union League Club," an association whose views were quite similar to those of Laboulaye. The members of this association were after all the cities of the East Coast. If they had the means to finance the statue, they did not see their interests, everyone wondering what he had to win at home to pay a statue in New York. A showdown was even engaged between Bartholdi, came to America to defend her project, and these rich entrepreneurs willing to put their hands in the pocket on one condition: That the name of their business is on the base. Which was refused, hence the need to fund the base by other means, including sports events.

Funding was therefore still not done American side, though the first contacts were encouraging. In 1877 two wealthy Americans made very generous donations of $ 5,000 each (the equivalent of $ 100,000 today), but they were the only ones to give such a sum. Other personalities of the East Coast served only symbolic gifts: fundraising stagnated. Admittedly, this is not the reasons that were missing from the lack of enthusiasm to provide money for the construction of the pedestal.

The reasons for rejecting the Statue of Liberty by Americans

When the project to build a statue to the glory of Liberty was proposed to the Americans, they were rather perplexed. Certainly, one can not consider that the US population had a uniform opinion on the matter, there were detractors as promoters for this project. But the general feeling was amazed, and later the reluctance, which appeared when the French asked their finance the pedestal. In fact, there were several reasons why the Americans were reluctant to build this statue. Here are seven representing the major. Subsequently some had other reasons to oppose the construction of the Statue of Liberty, but it was too specific views to mention here.

  1. The first was probably the fact that the statue was presented as a gift from France to the United States. In French culture, a gift is disinterested, the country's history has left a feeling of grandeur in the very act of giving. But this feeling is quite unique to France, it is very shared in the World. The Americans are no exception to the rule and for them to receive a gift implies a natural reciprocity, as if the French wanted to receive something in exchange. In fact, they were not mistaken, the project initiators wanted the US appear more forcefully the importance they attached to freedom, so to cantilever the authoritarian government of Napoleon III, and eventually it participates in its fall. But this vision was calculated that the fruit of the reflections of a small group of men, centered around Edouard de Laboulaye. The rest of the population, when it became aware of the project, supported selfless way

  2. The second reason is the United States, among those who had the authority to fund the pedestal of the statue. In the land of King dollar, a person who has been enriched had no reason to give money at that time, for any project whatsoever. The philanthropy was very undeveloped, specific initiatives donation to associations or any works were not a habit and everyone thought it was normal, the wealthy first. There also is a feeling that goes against the history of the French, whose legacy works from the Middle Ages makes the full population of incomprehension at the avarisme. The base of the fundraising campaign has therefore been a failure with respect to the American rich people, simply because they did not see why they would spend their money without being the initiator of the donation.

  3. The third reason lies in the French revolution. This revolution, which took place less than a century earlier, was still fresh in minds. The US population has fed bloody images associated with the emancipation of the French people to face its leaders. View of America, Liberty as the French live scared: This freedom is the death of the elite, is the standardization of social classes, are the barricades, weapons, violence. While the United States had just come out of five years of civil war (the war of secession), but even then the American people could not associate the feeling of freedom as to what they were considering posed this freedom for the French. Fear is also one reason for the reluctance it took the Americans to facilitate the construction of the Statue of Liberty on their soil.

  4. The fourth reason is in the work itself. The statue depicts a woman holding a torch in her hand. She is calm, enlighten the World, but represents individual. Americans need heroes, leaders, they raise their statues. But they do not rise to the statue of Liberty. For them, at that time, a statue was to represent someone, not an abstraction. This statue was too impersonal to adhere to it.

  5. The fifth reason is the choice of location. New York was chosen in 1871, not surprisingly because it is there that the Auguste Bartholdi wanted. He knew that this was the main gateway to the United States, that's where she would be the view. The problem of funding soon became clear when he had to convince the rich personalities of the East Coast: Who, apart from the people of New York, was ready to invest heavily in a statue that would not even be installed in their city. The location of the statue therefore not ease its financing, although this would have been the same if it was installed in Philadelphia, Boston, and San Francisco as was sometimes mentioned. In fact the project proponents were unable, at that time, to explain the background of the statue: it was to represent the United States in their entirety, but everyone saw a New Yorker statue.

  6. The sixth reason is religious, although the argument was used by few people. Those decreed that the Statue of Liberty was a pagan idol that could not be worshiped as could be Christian icons. They also advanced the idea that the only guarantee of freedom in the world was God, and therefore he was not about to put forward the Freedom that was the consequence of God's work on Earth the true being worthy of being idolized the Creator. But this argument has never really had repercussions among the US population, it does not specifically seeking to prohibit the statue. They just wanted to ignore it.

  7. The seventh reason for the rejection of the Statue of Liberty by the Americans is patriotic. Indeed the Prussian community was much larger in the US than the French community, she did hear. At the launch of the harvest campaign funds, to build the pedestal of the statue, the Franco-Prussian war of 1870 had just ended to the advantage of Prussia, future Germany. So the Americans were more naturally for me for the Prussians and France, it was a general feeling unimportant, but should be noted however. The statue is French, she was naturally rejected by the Prussian community, which had more impact than what could provide the voice of the promoters of the statue.

  8. The eighth reason is purely aesthetic, but it was mostly an excuse for not giving the real reason for the rejection of the statue, one of the others explained above. The aesthetic criterion was not very used to criticize the work. What made it could contradict themselves, some being too flamboyant, others too dull otherwise. Others gave their views on what should be a statue of Liberty, but none of them did not see her as a serene woman. The aesthetics of the statue dispute has been a cause of criticism, but it was not the main one.

  9. The ninth reason concerns the fear of seeing such an impressive statue in New York Bay without really knowing what it will give concretely. Indeed, this statue was the highest of the World in her time, and nobody could really imagine its impact on the landscape. Critics saw it as a potential fuzzy mass, too close to Manhattan she would spoil vision. I must say that having no history, such a statue could be scary.

The political influence

In 1876 held a presidential election in the United States. It opposed Rutherford Hayes Samuel Tilden. The first is Republican, Democrat second. During the previous year and the country, a phenomenon of inversion of the vote seemed to light. If voters were more in favor of the Democrat, the Republican candidate made a good comeback in the polls and manages to snatch victory. The cause of its rise, if it has several explanations, lies partly in the support that brought him a certain William Evarts, Republican member of the fund raising committee for the Statue of Liberty. Once elected, Hayes encouraged the committee but resentment remained stubborn long: A member of the US Congress did withdraw $ 100 000 originally planned to build the pedestal of a finance bill. Amputee such a sum, the committee received a setback in its initiatives. A second setback came when the Governor of the State of New York, Groover Cleveland, imposed the withdrawal of $ 50 000 donation from the federal state to the committee. I must say that Cleveland was a Democrat, and he saw a way of revenge for the bad blow received during the presidential election. This greatly participated in the slow lifting of funds for the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.

The role of the press

If the elites are not adhered to the project Bartholdi, it was the same for the middle and working classes, which could immediately be enthusiastic about the statue but were not even aware of the project. Anyway, they would not have agreed to pay their money for that. It was not until the meeting of Bartholdi and the editor of "Philadelphia Press", John Forney, to glimpse the beginning of a solution. It was he who, convinced of the value of the statue, Bartholdi introduced to the Union League Club, it was he who launched the first call to the donation campaign for the statue in her journal.

You should know that the press, at the end of the nineteenth century was essentially run by financiers who used it to promote their projects. Newspapers were relatively expensive and even if the middle class could afford them, there were a large part of the population that abstained in. Then comes the low-cost phenomenon newspapers, only sold until 1 under. With such business practices, sales flew and it is a big part of the popular and middle class who could read newspapers. And that's when they became aware of the project of erection of the statue of Liberty, and the difficulties faced by the fund raising committee. It must be said that journalists were not soft: They openly critical and scathing the lack of involvement of the American upper class, and the pen-leg that had to committee members to achieve their end . This series lasted for months, and gradually the view was a pretty clear idea of ​​what would be the statue once completed. The many engravings that appeared in the newspapers favored the imagination, and suddenly the statue was actually personified, it was not just a vague project. Everything was in place to trigger a popular wave of accession, it only needed the trigger. It happened thanks to a well-known man, Joseph Pulitzer.

Successful lifted by Joseph Pulitzer

Pulitzer had followed the fundraiser by far initially. But it quickly became enthusiastic because he saw her interest. He published a series of articles highlighting early lack of interest of the elites for the project.

We have over a hundred millionaires in this city he wrote in 1883, each of them has the means to make a check to pay the full amount required without having the impression of having spent a dollar. Any one of them would have gladly spent that kind of money to lavish or ostentatious spending, for a foreign ballet dancer or an opera singer [...]. But what do they have to do a Statue of Liberty that reminds them of the equality of all citizens of the Republic?

From : Barry Moreno, 2000, the statue of Liberty encyclopedia, New-York

Joseph Pulitzer was a self-made man, founder of minor newspapers and the "New York World" that he bought at exorbitant prices. A pioneer in her way of presenting information, sensationalized and approaching the most of its readership, he took up the cause of the statue and, by dint of articles where it caught fire, he finally convinced classes average to participate in financing of the statue. He displayed a particularly visible information campaign based on that he had made a few years ago for the presidential election. It must be said that the time was serious: By funding the construction site down the base had stopped in the middle and nothing seemed to indicate that he would resume a day. However, during this time the French were advancing the statue was going to need a good business location: It had to be fast.

A power of appeal for donations, the first dollar reached the committee. Pulitzer began to publish the names of donors, whatever the amounts provided. He put forward very modest gifts but which corresponded to a great effort on the part of the person, other children, and gradually increased the prize pool. The fund raising committee, partly ridiculed for having failed with billionaires where Pulitzer succeeded with small population, tried to expedite the lifting but failed again. The funding was actually paid by the American middle class, and when the $ 100 000 was reached, a special article in the New York World in congratulating donors.

See as well: History of the statue of Liberty

Copyright 2013 - 2018 - Any reproduction prohibited without the authorization of the author. This website is a private, unofficial site resulting from the compilation work of the works of different authors. Unless otherwise stated, the pictures are free of rights. To distinguish free illustrations from others, see: Documentary sources. Other Internet sites of the same author in other fields: Marguerite Duras, Les Pyrénées Catalanes. Author of the website : See credits.