Statue of Liberty is a Monument to Abolition of Slavery

Broken chains at the feet of the statue prematurely celebrated liberty from American slavery (e.g. racist Jim Crow laws were starting around the same time it was erected). Source: NPS

Here is an interesting write-up from the National Park Service (NPS), explaining how abolition was central to the monument known today for something different.

The Statue of Liberty would never have been conceived or built if its principal French and American advocates had not been active abolitionists who understood slavery as the cause of the Civil War and its end as the realization of the promise of liberty for all as codified in the Declaration of Independence.

The NPS also writes how symbolism of the statue led to skepticism because America’s racist reality wasn’t rising to the French aspiration of anti-racism.

African Americans rarely used the Statue as a relevant symbol for their struggle – they were reluctant to embrace the symbol of a nation which would not fully include them as citizens. The Statue of Liberty did not help them to gain equality and justice in the truest sense – it was only the beginning.

A NYU historian further explains. A group of French abolitionists June 1865 met in Versailles and…

…talked about the idea of creating some kind of commemorative gift that would recognize the importance of the liberation of the slaves.

Yet by the time the statue was unveiled in 1886 the Supreme Court already had failed to protect liberty.

Just like in France (1802-1848), slavery in America was basically being re-established after abolition and the Civil War continued by other means.

Roll-back of liberation from American tyranny came quickly with racist Jim Crow laws and state-sanctioned domestic terrorism (branded as “America First” under President Wilson’s restart of the KKK in 1915).

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