February 28, 2011
I became fascinated with the Marquis de Lafayette when I began my research for Enlightening the World. To try to understand why the Statue of Liberty was conceived by a Frenchman and built by the French people (the statue portion of the monument, not the pedestal), I had to get a sense of the kinship they felt with Americans. In the 1860s, when Édouard Laboulaye mentioned the idea of a statue to guests at a dinner party at his home, it was common to refer to the tradition of friendship between the people of France and the United States. This special friendship had been established during the American War for Independence, and was symbolized by Lafayette.