- from Statue of Liberty
In 1865, Professor Édouard René Lefebvre de Laboulaye gives a dinner party at his home near Versailles, France.
The professor is an expert on the history of the United States, where the Civil War has just ended. Laboulaye is glad that the Union won and slavery has been abolished.
The conversation turns to politics. The guests recall how the French had sent soldiers, arms, ships, and money to the U.S. to help the colonists gain independence from Great Britain. They remark on the long-standing friendship between the two nations. They also talk about their shared ideals of freedom. After all, between 1789 and 1792, the French had also fought for their freedom in the French Revolution, overthrowing King Louis XVI.
Suddenly, Laboulaye makes a startling suggestion. Why not honor the ideal of democracy and build a monument as a gift from the people of France to the people of the United States?
That was how it all began. Laboulaye’s surprising idea turned into a 21-year labor of love that became the most powerful symbol of freedom in the world.