17
Jun
09

On This Day, June 17: Statue of Liberty

June 17, 1885

Statue of Liberty arrives

The Statue of Liberty, a gift of friendship from the people of France to the people of the United States, arrives in New York City’s harbor.

Originally known as “Liberty Enlightening the World,” the statue was proposed by French historian Edouard Laboulaye to commemorate the Franco-American alliance during the American Revolution. Designed by French sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, the 151-foot statue was the form of a woman with an uplifted arm holding a torch. In February 1877, Congress approved the use of a site on New York Bedloe’s Island, which was suggested by Bartholdi. In May 1884, the statue was completed in France, and three months later the Americans laid the cornerstone for its pedestal in New York. On June 19, 1885, the dismantled Statue of Liberty arrived in the New World, enclosed in more than 200 packing cases. Its copper sheets were reassembled, and the last rivet of the monument was fitted on October 28, 1886, during a dedication presided over by U.S. President Grover Cleveland.

On the pedestal was inscribed “The New Colossus,” a famous sonnet by American poet Emma Lazarus that welcomed immigrants to the United States with the declaration, “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, / The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. / Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me. / I lift my lamp beside the golden door.” Six years later, Ellis Island, adjacent to Bedloe’s Island, opened as the chief entry station for immigrants to the United States, and for the next 32 years more than 12 million immigrants were welcomed into New York harbor by the sight of “Lady Liberty.” In 1924, the Statue of Liberty was made a national monument.

“Statue of Liberty arrives,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=5107 [accessed Jun 17, 2009]

On This Day

1789 – The Third Estate in France declared itself a national assembly, and began to frame a constitution.

1799 – Napoleon Bonaparte incorporated Italy into his empire.

1848 – Austrian General Alfred Windischgratz crushed a Czech uprising in Prague.

1854 – The Red Turban revolt broke out in Guangdong, China.

1861 – U.S. President Abraham Lincoln witnessed Dr. Thaddeus Lowe demonstrate the use of a hydrogen balloon.

1876 – General George Crook’s command was attacked and bested on the Rosebud River by 1,500 Sioux and Cheyenne under the leadership of Crazy Horse.

1885 – The Statue of Liberty arrived in New York City aboard the French ship Isere.

1924 – The Fascist militia marched into Rome.

1931 – British authorities in China arrested Indochinese Communist leader Ho Chi Minh.

1953 – Soviet tanks fought thousands of Berlin workers that were rioting against the East German government.

June 17, 1972

Watergate burglars arrested

Five men are arrested for breaking into the Democratic National Committee offices at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C. Senate investigations eventually revealed that President Richard Nixon had been personally involved in the subsequent cover-up of the break-in; additional investigation uncovered a related group of illegal activities that included political espionage and falsification of official documents, all sanctioned by the White House. Nixon became increasingly embroiled in the political scandal.

On July 29 and 30, 1974, the House Judiciary Committee approved three articles of impeachment, charging that Nixon had misused his powers to violate the constitutional rights of U.S. citizens, obstructed justice, and defied Judiciary Committee subpoenas. To avoid almost certain impeachment, Nixon resigned from office on August 9.

The Watergate affair had a far-ranging impact, both at home and abroad. In the United States, the scandal shook the faith of the American people in the presidency. In the final analysis though, the nation survived the constitutional crisis, thus reinforcing the system of checks and balances and proving that not even the president is above the law.

Nixon’s resignation had dire consequences for the Vietnam War. Nixon had always promised that he would come to the aid of South Vietnam if North Vietnam violated the terms of the Paris Peace Accords. With Nixon gone, there was no one left to make good on those promises. When the North Vietnamese began their final offensive in 1975, the promised U.S. support was not provided and the South Vietnamese were defeated in less than 55 days.

“Watergate burglars arrested,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=1914 [accessed Jun 17, 2009]

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