Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Statue of Liberty?


I wonder how many Americans know this piece of trivia about the famous New York landmark. Everyone knows that the French gave the statue to the United States as a sign of goodwill. But the statue's history is more complicated. Khedive Ismail "The Magnificent," (Egypt's ruler from 1863 to 1879), originally commissioned it to stand at the mouth of the Suez Canal in Port Said. Ismail was on a spending spree after a spike in the price of cotton (which Egypt produced) in the 1860s. This was partly the result of the Confederacy cutting cotton production during the American Civil War in order to increase international pressure to stop the conflict. By the time the canal was completed in 1869, the Civil War was over and Ismail was broke. He couldn't afford to have the statue built and it never made it to Port Said. The plinth it was supposed to stand on (pictured above) was built though. A large statue of Ferdinand Lesseps (who designed the canal) stood on it but was knocked down after Nasser's 1952 Revolution. Now the plinth sits with nothing on it and without even a plaque. This somehow didn't make it into the statueofliberty.org's page on the history of the statue. The statue, after being paid for successfully by the French people has managed to stand for nearly 130 years without being knocked down by civil strife.

Chris McClure

1 comment:

fiona said...

any suggestions as to what should be on there??????????