Frédéric and the Liberty

Post 81 of 109

Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi ( Colmar, August 2, 1834 – Paris, October 4, 1904 ) , also known by the nickname of Amilcar Hasenfratz , was an Alsatian sculptor , best known for being the author of the famous Statue of Liberty , a gift from France to the United States, which is located at the entrance of the port of New York , as well as the monumental Lion of Belfort, carved into a cliff to celebrate the heroic resistance of the city during the siege of 1870-71 during the French War –Prusiana

Frederic Bartholdi was one of the early members of Lodge Alsace-Lorraine, Paris (Oct. 14, 1875) which was composed of prominent intellectuals, writers and government representatives.  When his famous statue “Liberty Enlightening the World” was achieved, Bartholdi convened his Lodge to review it, even before the statue was shown to the U.S. committee.  On June 19, 1884, the Lodge, as if it were a pilgrimage, went in a body to review his masterpiece. On Washington’s Birthday in 1877, Congress accepted the statue as a gift from the French people. Bedloe’s Island, now Liberty Island, was chosen by General Sherman, the well-known Atlanta-burner. Meanwhile in Paris the work gradually progressed. Levi P. Morton, the then Ambassador to France, drove the first rivet. The statue was finished on May 21, 1884, and presented to Ambassador Levi Morton on July 4th of the same year by Ferdinand de Lesseps, builder of the Suez canal.

George Washington Mason

On the American side, the chairman of the American committee to receive the statue contacted the Grand Lodge of the Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York. It had been a tradition in America to have the cornerstone of major public and private buildings and monuments “consecrated” with full Masonic rites, ever since Freemason George Washington, in 1793, had personally laid the cornerstone of the Capitol, with the assistance of the Grand Lodge of Maryland.

The cornerstone of the Washington Monument, inscribed “Joseph Pulitzer, Russian immigrant and Jew.” was also laid in a Masonic ceremony. The ceremony was set for August 5, 1884. It poured rain.

The decorated vessel ‘Bay Ridge’ carried about a hundred Freemasons, along with some civil officials, to Bedloe’s Island. Freemason Richard M. Hunt, the principal architect of the pedestal, handed the working tools to the Masonic officers.

liberty

Then Freemason Edward M.,L. Ehlers, Grand Secretary and a member of the Continental Lodge 287, read the list of items to be included in the copper box within the cornerstone: a copy of the United States Constitution; George Washington’s Farewell Address; twenty bronze medals of Presidents up through Chester A. Arthur [including Washington, Monroe, Jackson, Polk, Buchanan, Johnson and Garfield, who were all Freemasons]; copies of New York City newspapers; a portrait of Bartholdi; a copy of ‘Poem on Liberty’ by E. R. Johnes; and a list on parchment of the Grand Lodge officers.

The traditional Masonic ceremony was observed. The cornerstone being found square, level and plumb, the Grand Master applied the mortar and had the stone lowered into place. He then struck the stone three times, and declared it duly laid. Then the elements of “consecration” were presented, corn, wine, and oil.

The “Most Worshipful” Grand Master then spoke a few words. He posed the question: “Why call upon the Masonic Fraternity to lay the cornerstone of such a structure as is here to be erected?”

His answer was: “No institution has done more to promote liberty and to free men from the trammels and chains of ignorance and tyranny than has Freemasonry.”

The principal address was given by the Deputy Grand Master: “Massive as this statue is, its physical proportions sink into comparative obscurity when contrasted with the nobility of its concept. Liberty Enlightening the World! How lofty the thought! To be free, is the first, the noblest aspiration of the human breast. And it is now a univally admitted truth that only in proportion as men become possessed of liberty, do they become civilized, enlightened and useful.”

The statue arrived in dismantled pieces in June of 1885. The statue was dedicated on October 28, 1886. President Grover Cleveland [who although sympathetically disposed toward the craft was not a Freemason] presided over the ceremony and Freemason Henry Potter, Episcopal Bishop of New York gave the invocation. Freemason Bartholdi pulled the tricolor French flag off the statue’s face. The main address was given by Freemason Chauncey M. Depew, a United States Senator.

This article was written by Psalm Triginta

MENU