Ulysses S. Grant Raises Funds for the Statue of Liberty
Posted by Mary Kate Kwasnik on Friday, 01/15/2016
The Statue of Liberty has long welcomed newcomers to the United States as a shining beacon of freedom and opportunity in the middle of New York Harbor. Children are taught that the Statue of Liberty was gifted to the United States by the people of France, commemorating the long-lasting alliance between the two nations. Beyond that, however, how much does the average American really know about the Statue of Liberty?
Although the structure was designed and delivered by France, the US agreed to construct a pedestal for the statue. The US officials responsible for raising the necessary $250,000 faced incredible difficulties—Congress declined to appropriate federal funds for the pedestal, and Grover Cleveland, the governor of New York, refused to spend city funds. Fundraising activities instead focused on individuals and private companies. Joseph Pulitzer, the publishing magnate, launched a campaign in his newspaper, the New York World, and raised over $100,000 from readers in what the BBC calls the first American crowdfunding project ever.
Former president Ulysses S. Grant actively campaigned for funds for the pedestal. In an 1884 letter, Grant writes to Tiffany and Company asking for a $5,000 donation. Grant implores Tiffany for a donation, explaining how the failure to raise the funds would "produce the most unfavorable comments upon our patriotism and public spirit, not only in our own country, but throughout the civilized world." You can read a PDF transcript here. Ultimately, the funds were raised through thousands of small and large donations by the American people, and the pedestal was completed and dedicated in 1886.