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The Statue of Liberty and Black America

Updated: Feb 27, 2022

The Statue of Liberty Foundation

Kathleen Wells - The contempt that the Left has for the descendants of American slaves is mind-blowing. The Left lies and deceptions have been insidious, pervasive, and pernicious.

Let’s look at two deceptions from the Left that has persisted for decades, if not longer: the Statue of Liberty and The Three- Fifths Compromise

How do these mythologies persist and why does the Left push them?

Take the myth about the meaning and intent of the Statue of Liberty. In recognition of America finally abolishing slavery and according to full liberty, at least in principle, to all its inhabitants was the intent behind France’s gift of the Statue of Liberty to America. The gifting of the statue had nothing to do with immigrants or immigration. The actual name of the statue is Liberty Enlightening the World and the symbolism at the time of its installation was to hold up the value of Americans’ republican form of governance for the rest of the world to emulate.

Yet in another example of insensitivity toward the historic struggles of freed slaves and their descendants, the statue’s symbolism eventually was transformed by politicians, news media, and popular culture into a glorification of the Great Wave of immigration. The immigration phenomenon is actually antithetical to and restricted the economic and political freedom of former slaves.

Emma Lazarus

In walks the Left with the New York City poet, Emma Lazarus, who was an activist in emigration causes. She wrote a poem that turned into a national motto, which did not come from any representative body of the American people or the originators of the monument. She wrote, “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” The obscure poem was unnoticed by the public during the 1886 dedication of the monument and even in 1903 when private donors were allowed to hang a small plaque of it inside the statue’s pedestal which now holds thousands of other museum pieces. Eventually, though, the poem came to be as well-known as the statue itself.

While an inspiring poem, this prose extols actions that solve problems by leaving one’s country for America which is the opposite message of the vision behind the statue. Instead, the statue was said to be faced toward the rest of the world to portray a form of government that could be copied by people in their own countries, not by leaving their countries.

French abolitionists at the Versailles home of Edward Rene de Laboulaye conceived of the idea of the Statue of Liberty at the end of the Civil War. According to New York University historian, Edward Berenson being filled with gratitude about the liberation of American slaves, Laboulaye and his guests decided to create a gift to commemorate the achievement. Laboulaye, who was the president of the French Anti-Slavery Society, partnered with sculptor Bartholdi. Initially, Bartholdi had the female liberty figure hold a broken chain in her left hand to emphasize the importance of ending slavery in the statue's symbolism. However, by the time enough money was raised to construct the statue, Reconstruction was being dismantled and an apartheid form of segregation was being established across the American South. Bartholdi decided it would be too controversial, at the time, to feature the broken shackles of slavery so prominently. However, in retrospect, he should have stuck with his initial intention, thus precluding the Left from rushing in and screwing things up, as usual.

Broken Chains of Slavery

Bartholdi settled on sculpting the broken chains of slavery around Lady Liberty’s feet, where it was less likely to view. This subtlety has helped obscure from Americans an understanding of the statute’s relationship with the granting of full liberty to American slaves.

As time moved on, this misunderstanding would continue to persist and this misunderstanding explains why the descendants of American slaves are now facing zero median wealth by 2053, and why the first half African descent president and first Indian American vice president have erroneously considered accomplishments for Americans who are the descendants of American slaves. Will the confusion and misunderstandings ever end?

During the erection of the statue, interestingly there was not a broad, public popular approval among Americans for the Great Wave of immigration or for the seemingly unrestricted open-door sentiment of Emma Lazarus’ poem. Oh, contrare!

Immigration historian John Higham noted that anti-immigration hostilities were especially prevalent in the country as the Statue of Liberty was being erected and dedicated.

This was the first time Congress enacted legislation to stem the tide of immigration in response to public outcry. Congress has since and continues to abdicate the wishes of the American people regarding immigration and this explains why Trump was so popular and elected, twice with overwhelming support.

The rapid industrialization of the northern economy was indeed creating openings for many new wage earners, but the country did not require the importation of hundreds of thousands of foreign workers each year to meet that need. Large numbers of rural Americans, especially White and Black workers in the war-ravaged South, could have taken many of those new Northern and Western jobs. But most were shut out of the opportunity by the Great Wave that continued to fill the jobs with workers from Europe even after the enactment of the first immigration laws.

So, immigration has always been a problem for American workers and continues to be an increasing problem.

Tragically, the manufacturers’ preference for immigrant labor postponed for a half-century the opportunity for most of the freed slaves to seek higher-paying jobs outside of the South. That left a large percentage of them dependent for jobs from the very class of Southerners who previously had enslaved them, indentured servitude.

While the Statue of Liberty’s lighted torch of freedom captured the attention of most sightseers and new immigrants, it was her feet with the broken chains of slavery that held the most symbolism for America’s increasingly forgotten Black citizens.

As mass immigration economically marginalized America’s Black population, the freed slaves and their descendants felt the country’s economic structure and laws steadily reattach most of the old shackles. Those economic chains were not to be loosened again, and only briefly, when World War I put an end to most of the traffic of immigrant ships sailing past the statue.

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