The Statue of Liberty Was Supposed to Be Arab Peasant Woman

It was originally designed for the opening of the Suez Canal
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 2, 2017 12:56 PM CST
The Statue of Liberty Was Supposed to Be Arab Peasant Woman
The Statue of Liberty overlooks New York Harbor, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2016.   (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

A little-known fact—or as PRI puts it, a "little-known irony"—about the Statue of Liberty seems particularly timely: Lady Liberty was originally designed as an Arab peasant woman. The statue's designer, Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi, became enamored of Egyptian monuments and designed what we now know as the Statue of Liberty to be placed at the entrance to the soon-to-be-opened Suez Canal in Egypt. Smithsonian Magazine reports "Egypt Carrying the Light to Asia" would have taken the form of a veiled Egyptian peasant holding a torch. But the ruler of Egypt didn't want to pay for Bartholdi's statue, so the Frenchman re-purposed the design into a statue of a Greco-Roman goddess called "Liberty Enlightening the World" and gifted it to the US on the 100th anniversary of the American Revolution. (Read more Statue of Liberty stories.)

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