Friday, June 24, 2011

Statue of Liberty: A Tale of Two Countries


Statue of Liberty: A Tale of Two Countries
by Elizabeth Mann
Mikaya Press, 2011. 47 pages. Nonfiction.

With the upsurge of anti-French sentiment seen in the last decade (remember freedom fries?), it is refreshing and informative to be reminded of how good the French have been to the United States in the past. In fact, the symbol of our country's enduring freedom, Lady Liberty, was envisioned, created, and payed for through the tireless efforts of two Frenchmen, Edouard Laboulaye and Frederic Auguste Bartholdi. Since 1776, when America had declared her independence, through the 1870s, there had been many different governments that had risen and fallen in France. Many French people looked to America in hope that one day their country would also become a democracy. Laboulaye especially hoped for this, and had become France's foremost authority on America's history, government, constitution, and laws. His dream was to present a monument of liberty to America in 1876 in honor of the 100th anniversary if its independence. He had to be careful, because the emperor of France, Napoleon III, did not support friendship between the two countries. Bartholdi was an artist who was captivated by Laboulaye's idea. It took 20 years and the unflagging persistence of these men, but finally the Statue of Liberty was unveiled in New York Harbor, where she has been the symbol of hope and freedom to millions.

This is a fascinating story that is well told by Elizabeth Mann and beautifully illustrated by Alan Witshonke.

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