On This Day…

Statue of Liberty

October 28, 1886

The 151-foot-high gift from the French people is dedicated. The French donated the Statue of Liberty, but the U.S. was responsible for building its pedestal. In 1884, the governor of New York Grover Cleveland vetoed a bill to provide $50,000 for the project. An attempt the following year to have Congress provide the $100,000 necessary to complete the project also failed. The New York committee, with only $3,000 in the bank, was unable to build the pedestal. With the project in jeopardy, other American cities offered to pay the full cost of erecting the statue in return for relocating it to their city. However, publisher Joseph Pulitzer, of the New York World, started a donation drive that drew more than 120,000 contributors, most of whom gave less than a dollar, raising $102,000. With those funds, construction of the pedestal began.
Ironically, Grover Cleveland, who vetoed funding for the pedestal while governor of New York, was now U.S. President and presided over the dedication, which included New York’s first ticker-tape parade.
Its famous poem, by Emma Lazarus, inscribed at the base contains the famous lines,
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”