No. 105.
Mr. Morton to Mr. Frelinghuysen.

No. 582.]

Sir: Mr. Bartholdi, the eminent French sculptor, author of the statue of “Liberty Enlightening the World,” called upon me some weeks ago to say that the statue was now complete, and that, as the labor of taking it down for shipment to America would require at least three months, it was the intention of the committee of the Franco-American Union to present it at once to me, as the representative of the Government and people of the United States. Mr. Bartholdi added that Mr. Jules Ferry would seize this occasion to associate the French Government with the undertaking of the Franco-American Union, and that he (Mr. Ferry) and other members of the Government would officially take part in the ceremony of presentation.

A few days later Mr. Ferry himself confirmed this statement at my house. He said that the statue of Liberty was not only wonderful as a work of art, but as a work entirely due to the individual initiative of Frenchmen friendly to America, and that it was the first time such an undertaking had been successfully carried out without Government aid. The Government, however, did not wish to stand aloof from this great manifestation. It wanted to show publicly that it shared the sentiments which had inspired Mr. Bartholdi, and with this view the minister of the navy, Admiral Peyron, would place a state vessel at the disposition of the committee for the transportation of the statue to New York.

This information having reached me too late to be made the object of a written communication to the Department, I briefly stated the facts in my telegram of the 28th of June, to which I duly received your telegraphic reply of July 1, and also one from the Hon. William M. Evarts, chairman of the Franco-American Committee of New York, requesting me to represent and speak for the New York committee.

The statue was formally presented to me on the morning of the 4th of July, and I accepted it in the name of the President of the United States and the American people.

The ceremony was an interesting and imposing one. It took place in the foundry yard of Messrs. Gaget & Gauthier where the monument has been made, and in presence of a large audience of distinguished guests. Upon a tribune erected in front of the colossal bronze sat the Franco-American Union Committee with its president, M. F. de Lesseps, [Page 159] with the author of the monument, Mr. Bartholdi, and members of the Government, among whom were conspicuous the president of the Chamber of Deputies, Mr. Brisson, the president of the supreme court, Mr. Cazot, Admiral Peyron, minister of marine, Mr. Herisson, minister of Commerce, Mr. Faillières, minister of public instruction, and Colonel Lichtenstein, representative of the President. The prefect of the Seine, the president of the city council, Senator de Lafayette, and many other high officials and distinguished gentlemen, well known for their Franco-American sympathies, were also present.

The yard, which was appropriately decorated with French and American flags, was filled by a large number of citizens of both countries. A band of music played alternately the French and American national airs.

Unfortunately, the president of the council, who had been ill for two or three days, could not attend the ceremony, but in the morning he wrote me to explain and apologize for his absence, and at my request M. de Lesseps read his note, which was warmly applauded for its sentiments of interest and sympathy. M. de Lesseps then, speaking in the name of the Union, presented to me the great statue—the eighth wonder of the world, as he called it. His remarks, partly foreign to the object, were, nevertheless, greeted with cheers; for they expressed in warm terms the generous feeling which had inspired this spontaneous manifestation of friendship on the part of the French people. I responded by reading your telegram directing me to accept the statue and by explaining the action of the President and of Congress in the matter.

At the close of these addresses the official deed of presentation was signed by the president of the Chamber of Deputies and M. Jules Ferry, in the name of France (it was taken to the house of the latter for that purpose); by me, in the name of the United States; by M. de Lesseps and M. de Lafayette, in the name of the committee of the Franco-American Union; and as witnesses, by many of the assistants.

I inclose herewith, with the original deed of presentation and a translation of the same (which are to be preserved in the national archives), the following papers:

Translation of the invitation received from M. de Lesseps.
Copy of a telegram from Messrs. Evarts and Spaulding.
Translation of M. Jules Ferry’s note.
Copy of remarks made by M. de Lesseps.
Copy of my remarks.
Translation of the deed of presentation.
Extract from the Morning News, giving account of the ceremony.

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure 1 in No. 582.—Translation.]

M. de Lesseps to Mr. Morton.

Monsieur le Ministre: I have the honor to inform you that agreeably to the understanding with the president of the council, we have taken the necessary measures for the organization of our ceremony of presentation of the statue for Friday, the 4th of July, at 11 o’clock a. m.

In the name of the committee I come, therefore, to renew, officially, our invitation [Page 160] that you kindly receive the homage of the work addressed to the great American sister Republic by the Franco-American Union.

Please receive, &c.

In the name of the Franco-American Union,

The president of the committee,

[Inclosure 2 in No. 582.—Telegram]

From Messrs. Evarts and Spaulding.

Hon. L. P. Morton,
American Legation, Paris:

Kindly represent and speak for American Committee Statue Liberty ceremonies, July 4. Concrete base completed, 52 feet high. Granite begun.

[Inclosure 3 in No. 582.—Translation.]

Mr. Ferry to Mr. Morton.

My Dear Mr. Morton: As you may be aware, I have been seriously indisposed, and in order properly to fulfil all my duties I have to take certain precautions to which I am little accustomed.

The work of yesterday was very fatiguing for me, and I have, therefore, been ordered complete rest to-day.

The Government of the Republic will be represented upon the occasion by several ministers. Above all others, I shall feel regret at my inability to personally attend this fete of the fraternity of the two great Republics; but you know that I shall be there in the spirit, in heart, and in soul.

Believe, my dear Mr. Morton, in my entire devotion.

[Inclosure 4 in No. 582.—Translation.]

Synopsis of remarks made by M. de Lesseps.

France, monarchical, imperial, or republican, has ever been the friend and ally of the United States of America.

Our work of to-day, which is in no wise political, is the work of a hundred thousand subscribers—one hundred and eighty towns have participated therein; a great number of general councils, chambers of commerce, societies of every description. The thought which has inspired France upon this occasion was that of consecrating and cementing the centenarian friendship that unites the two great nations, which the breadth of the ocean cannot separate because there is between the two peoples such a connection of sentiment, that even when an unforeseen difference arises between them, circumstances quickly bring them back to a community of views and of action.

Upon the occasion of the excavating of the canal of Panama, for instance, after a moment’s hesitation the United States understood that this work, executed in a free state, should be of universal interest and completed by the common effort of the two friendly nations.

The powerful American industry came forward, in fact, to offer its co-operation to the French workmen.

It will assure the success of this great enterprise; it will be one more tie between us; it will be the success of the union of the powers of that great American nation with those of France, her old and trusted friend.

This union of the genius of the two countries has already produced the greatest movements which have been effected amongst modern nations.

We trust that it will beam for a long time to come upon humanity, as the light or our colossal statue emitting its rays at the entrance of the vast continent, the converging points of the whole world.

[Page 161]

I have to thank the generous donators, through whom the work has been brought to completion.

I render homage to our collaborators:

To Mr. Bartholdi, who has created a colossal work, the eighth wonder of the world.

To Mr. Gaget, the engineer, who, in the material execution of the work, has brought to bear indefatigable zeal and intelligence.

To Mr. Eiffel, the great constructor, who has given the guarantee of all his science to the iron-work of the colossus.

I must also bring to notice the participation, so important, though modest in appearance, of the heads of the workshops that have conducted these works, Messrs. Bugeret and Baron.

Finally, I particularly wish to join in the sentiments of Mr. Bartholdi and of all the collaborators, in thanking his respectable and valiant assistant, Mr. Simon, that courageous sculptor, who, although a septuagenarian, has been the youngest and most indefatigable at work by several years; we all of us would have wished, to see him honored, as he merits, by an official distinction.

This work, Mr. Minister, is the production of the enthusiasm of devotion, of the intelligence, of the most noble sentiments that dominate man.

It is grand in its conception and realization, it is grand by its proportions; we trust that it will add, by its moral value, to the souvenirs and sentiments that it is to perpetuate.

We deliver it into your charge, Mr. Minister, in order that it may ever remain the pledge of the ties which should unite France and the great American nation.

[Inclosure 5 in No. 582.]

Remarks made by Mr. Morton.

Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Committee: I am directed by the President of the United States to accept this colossal statue of “Liberty Enlightening the World,” and to express the thanks of the Government and people of the United States for the statue, as a work of art and as a monument of the abiding friendship of the I people of France, and to assure the committee of the Franco-American Union, the president of the council, and the citizens of the French Republic, that the American people return most heartily the friendly sentiments which prompted this noble gift to America.

It is proper that I should recall on this occasion the action of the Government of the United States with regard to the statue of Liberty, the completion of which we witness to-day.

When the American Congress was advised that the citizens of France proposed to erect on one of the islands in the harbor of New York the colossal statue of “Liberty Enlightening the World,” it authorized, by a unanimous vote, the President to accept the gift, and to set apart a suitable site for its erection.

The President was also directed to cause the statue to be inaugurated, when completed, with such ceremonies as would serve to testily the gratitude of the people of the United States for the monument so felicitously expressive of the sympathy of her sister Republic.

The American Congress also ordered provision to be made for its future maintenance as a beacon, and for its preservation and permanent care as a monument of art, and of the continued good will of the great nation which aided her in her struggle for freedom.

The President of the United States set apart Bedloe’s Island for the erection of the statue, and I have received a telegram from Messrs. Evarts and Spaulding, of the New York committee, stating that the concrete base, 52 feet high, has been completed and the laying of the granite for the pedestal commenced.

The thought which inspired M. Bartholdi, the eminent author of this triumph of art; the participation in this gift of Senators Oscar and Edmond de Lafayette, the Marquis de Rochambeau, and other descendants of the sons of France who fought by the side of Washington; the participation also of M. de Lesseps, the illustrious president of the Franco-American Union, of his distinguished predecessor, Senator Laboulaye, the French interpreter of the American Constitution, of Senator Henri Martin, the great historian, and their distinguished associates; the presence on this occasion Qf several members of the Government and the representative of the President of this great Republic; the proposal of the French Government, through the minister of marine, to transport this statue to New York in a Government frigate, and the selection of the anniversary day of American Independence for this ceremony, [Page 162] will all only deepen the grateful appreciation with which your friendly gift will be received by the Government and people of the United States.

It was my good fortune, as the representative of my country, to drive the first rivet in this great statue, as it is now to accept it, complete in all its grand proportions, on behalf of the President and people of the United States.

The committee of the Franco-American Union of New York, which was organized to provide the foundations for the statue, will receive it on its arrival with the same feeling of gratitude and emotion which your friendly action has evoked in the heart of every American, and assume the agreeable task of its erection upon the pedestal on Bedloe’s Island.

God grant that it may stand until the end of time, as an emblem of imperishable sympathy and affection between the Republics of France and the United States.

[Inclosure 6 in No. 582.—Translation.]

Deed of presentation.

In the presence of M. Jules Ferry, minister of foreign affairs of France, and president of the council of ministers.

Count Ferdinand de Lesseps, in the name of the committee of the Franco-American Union, and of the national manifestation of which that committee has been the organ, has presented the colossal statue of “Liberty Enlightening the World,” the work of the sculptor Bartholdi, to his excellency Mr. Morton, United States Minister at Paris, praying him to be the interpreter of the national sentiment of which this work is the expression.

Mr. Morton, in the name of his compatriots, thanks the Franco-American Union for this testimony of sympathy from the French people; he declares that in virtue of the powers conferred upon him by the President of the United States, and the committee of the work in America, represented by its honorable president, Mr. William M. Evarts, he accepts the statue, and that it shall be erected in conformity with the vote of Congress of the 22d of February, 1877, in the harbor of New York as a souvenir of the unalterable friendship of two nations.

In faith of which there have signed—

In the name of France:
    President of the Chamber.
    Minister of Foreign Affairs.

In the name of the United States:
Minister of the United States.

In the name of the French-American Committee:
[Inclosure 7 in No. 582.]

Extract from the Morning News, giving account of the ceremony.

the fourth—how independence day was celebrated in paris—the presentation of the bartholdi statue—speeches by m. de lesseps and mr. morton—reception at the american legation.

The biggest statue in creation was duly inaugurated yesterday—so far as this side of the water is concerned—on the biggest day of the American year. Of course there is much more to come on the American side, when the statue shall be finally set up on the pedestal on Bedloe’s Island, for the President of the United States, as we know, has been duly authorized by Congress to order such ceremonial as he may deem fitting for the occasion.

Yesterday’s fête was of an altogether familiar character, as best suited the circumstances [Page 163] and the situation, for it took place in the yard of a workshop. It was the mere formal handing over of the statue by the representative of the French republic to the representative of the American Republic. If anything could have unbent the impassive features of the statue, it would be the thought of her being “handed over” by any of the pigmies at her feet. She towered above the yard, and the workshops, and the people, and dwarfed everything into absolute insignificance; even the American flag, proudly flying from the torch at the end of her outstretched arm, seemed a mere ornament of a bride-cake. It was impossible to give one’s self airs in such a presence, and the managers of the fete seemed to have felt this, and to have arranged everything on a becoming scale of modesty of pretense. The ceremony took place in a kind of shed run up in the yard, and it derived its sole importance from the character and quality of the people who took part in it.

the company.

There was a distinguished crowd, both of Americans and Frenchmen. In the latter quite a group of ministers and high officials: the president of the Chamber; the minister of agriculture, M. Herisson; the minister of finance, M. Tirard; the minister of marine, Admiral Peyron; M. de Failières, minister of public instruction; Colonel Lichtenstein, representing the President of the Republic, with two officers representing the minister of war; M. Oscar de Lafayette; Baronne de Pages, grandneice of the hero Montcalm; the prefect of the Seine; the vice-president of the municipal council, M. Antonin Proust; Senators Noblot, Millaud, and Oudet; M. Caudet; M. Philippe Burty, the eminent critic; M. Dietz-Monin, president of the chamber of commerce; M. Henner and M. Armand Dumaresq, the painters; and Dr. Ricord, of Baltimore.

Among the Americans were Consul-General Walker and Messrs. Brulatour and Vignaud, who accompanied their chief; ex-Senator Baldwin, of Michigan; Governor Cheney; Senator James B. Eustis, Louisiana; General Draper, of Boston; Judge Batchelor; Dr. Howard; Dr. Wixom; Messrs. Reinhart, Dannat, Mosler, Bacon; Dr. Evans; Mr. Munroe; Mr. Harjes; Mr. Gillig; Mr. Roberts and Mr. Hobson; Mr. King; Dr. Chapman; Professor Yeatman; Dr. Nachtel; Mr. Fettridge; Mr. Theo. Stanton; and Maj. R. N. Brown, a nephew of Major-General Brown, Commanding General of the United States Army, and brother of the late Maj T. S. Brown, consulting engineer to the Czar Nicholas.

The costumes were, in most instances, suited to the time of day and the weather; but a few devoted Frenchmen, out of reverence to the statue, had donned full evening dress. They formed, as has been said, a crowd of pigmies; but the people in the houses overlooking the founder’s yard, in the Rue de Chazelles, carried the view at least up to the waist of the colossus, and so served a little to fill in the composition in an artistic sense.

At about half-past eleven M. de Lesseps arrived, and took up his position on the platform as chairman of the celebration. He was followed by Mr. Morton, and the proceedings immediately commenced by the reading of the letter from M. Ferry, excusing himself from attendance on account of ill health, but saying, and saying truly, that the Government of the Republic would be represented by more than one minister.

* * * * * * *

When Mr. Morton had read his reply, he invited all present to sign the procès verbal of the ceremony, and set the example himself. Then came the president of the Chamber to sign, with a shaking hand, in the name of France; then the ministers, in their turn; and finally, the rank and file. The signing was done with a goose-quill, prettily tied with emblematic colors; and it was worn out long before the end of the proceedings. The paper was covered with names, north and south, east and west; dozens signed sideways on the margin, and at last it became a piece of positive ill breeding to those who were to follow to write one’s signature large.

After this, the illustrious company, with M. Bartholdi leading the way, went to see the statue, entering by the door in the sole of the uplifted foot, and toiling steadily up the double staircase, with nothing to guide their steps but the ten thousand little eyelets of sunlight that came through the rivet holes. Only a few persevered to the summit; most of them gave up half way, and, confounding the two staircases for the ascent and descent, were for some time lost to the world. It was the fancy of Rabelais again—with his pigmies wandering about in the interior of the monster. The president of the Chamber went gallantly to the top, and saw Paris from the opening in the coronet, but he did not wait while the man went to fetch the key to the staircase in the arm, which towered up into a first story at the elbow and a second at the hand. While this was going on, the people below took modest refreshments at the buffet at the back of the platform, and after them came, very fittingly, the workmen who had built up the thing piece by piece. This, with the distribution of the commemorative medal, closed the proceedings in the yard; and all that remains to be [Page 164] said about the statue is that it will stand in its place until the end of the month, and will then be taken down for transport in a French ship of war to its destination.

After the ceremony, the high officials present, to the number of some twenty-five, went to breakfast with M. le Senateur Arbel, in the Rue de Courcelles. Mme. Arbel and Mme. Bartholdi were the only ladies present, M. de Lesseps, Mr. Morton, and M. Bartholdi made short speeches, and the work, the committee, and the artist received their fair share of praise.

* * * * * * *

english appreciation of the french offering to america.

[From the London Daily News.]

We publish in another column this morning a full description of the gigantic statue which M. Ferry, on behalf of the French, will to-morrow present to the American people, through the United States minister in Paris. The statue is the fit successor in these modern times of the colossus which was in ancient days one of the world’s seven wonders. It is to stand on one of the islands in the magnificent bay of New York, as a sort of vast light-house, or light-bearer, welcoming the traveler from the Old World as he enters the New World. The project and execution are characteristic of the French people. There is an air of romance about it which touches the fancy of an imaginative nation. It is a kind of celebration of the Republic, a declaration of friendship and sympathy from one republican people to another. It is the more remarkable, too, because the legend which most astonished M. Guizot when he read it on some of our great charitable institutions in London might, with a slight change, be inscribed on M. Bartholdi’s colossus. It has originated in a popular movement, and has been paid for by voluntary subscriptions. It is literally the spontaneous gift of the French people to the Americans, a testimony of their hearty admiration of American freedom.

The colossal size of the statue is appropriate to a country where everything is on a gigantic scale. On its pedestal, and with its outstretched hand, this huge figure is higher than any light-house on our own coasts or than any mere monument in this capital. It is most ingeniously constructed, and is, even in that respect, the most striking work of the statuary’s art ever produced. It will, no doubt, be accepted by the Americans in the cordial spirit in which it is offered, and it may be hoped that it may long stand in its commanding position at the beautiful entrance to New York bay as a material embodiment and token of the cordial feeling of two great peoples who are mutually indebted to each other.

the minister’s reception.

Later in the afternoon, the usual Fourth of July reception was held at Mr. Morton’s, and many of those present at the ceremony of the morning met one another once more.