By the end of the year 1865, much that had been foggy for America had become crystal clear. More than 600,000 Americans had fallen in battle, the South was laid waste, a formerly enslaved population was facing an uncertain future, and the leader who might have helped the nation make sense of it all was dead.

Yet amid the horror and fear, there was hope. The United States had survived civil war, and out of all the death and destruction came the idea, now victorious, that all human beings were created free and equal. Though incompletely conceived and imperfectly executed, this was the idea that made the nation – and would remake it in and through its darkest hour.

The world took notice. France designed and gifted to the U.S. a monumental statue to stand on Liberty Island in New York Harbor. The idea for the Statue of Liberty dates from 1865; it was dedicated by President Grover Cleveland in 1886.

What began as a symbol of freedom later became also a symbol of hope. Immigrants who passed through nearby Ellis Island would remember their first glimpse of the Statue of Liberty, and the dreams for a better life it came to embody.

Worth Checking Out

  • Statue of Liberty National Monument
  • Statue of Liberty Museum
  • Ellis Island

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