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Statue of Liberty Symbol

The liberation of over four million people from chattel slavery 1865 can be viewed as the harbinger for a second American social transformation, since America's independence from Britain. The post Civil War period of the late 1800s was a time during which the incredible expansion of the Industrial Revolution, in a short 35 years, transformed America from an essentially rural agrarian economy to an industrial-based urban complex economy. Industrial capitalism created unimaginable opportunities for a flood of new European immigrants.

These newcomers tenuously joined the antebellum White settlement of Anglo-Saxons, Welsh, Scots, Swedes, Dutch, Germans, French, Irish, Scotch-Irish, and a smattering of Chinese in the far West (brought to build railroads), and the forced inclusion of Mexicans as a result of the Mexican-American War and annexation, after the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (1846-48). The presence of Black people and their ongoing struggle for democracy was suffocated by the new hordes of people from Europe.

In 1886 the Statue of Liberty was erected as a symbol of American generosity towards a hungry and unfree world. Lady Liberty initially was inspired by French abolitionists with the intention of saluting Lincoln and the emancipation of the slaves. Its original intent, celebrating the end of slavery, was redirected by the politics of "race" towards the White "huddled masses" of Europe. The original meaning of the Statue of Liberty was corrupted by the deeply rooted racist ideology of American political leadership and its supportive intelligentsia. Interracial prejudice, with the primary victims being Catholic and Jews, was widespread during the late 19th century. "White supremacy" and terrorist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan (1868) emerged and like their predecessors, the No Nothing party of the 1840s, included Catholics and Jews in their litany of hate and murder in addition to African Americans.

But these people, Catholics and Jews, were not Black people: they were conveniently, not long after their arrival, readily assigned to the "White" race. As a social and political construction "race" was, and remains, the major dynamic in American life and history. And this meant acculturation for some, and complete assimilation for others of these new Americans. "Race" and color was the key to the undeserved advantages of new immigrants over Black people who help to lay the foundation to American wealth. This meant a transitory status of being an out-group for new Whites (for some, just one generation). The ethnic factor varied according to the nearness of Anglo-Saxon ideals, or "Whiteness." African Americans, then as now, remain a permanent out-group, hence, a permanent minority; politically, psychologically, and numerically.

Other Statue of Liberty topics: Auguste Bartholdi, Construction, Copper, Corrosion, History, Head, Introduction, Model, Picture, Postcard, Restoration, Symbolism

Other landmarks: Christ the Redeemer, Colossus, Delhi pillar, Eiffel tower, Golden Gate bridge, Great Buddha, Guggenheim Museum (Bilbao), Guggenheim Museum (NYC), Normandy bridge, Oresund crossing, Quebec Bridge, Statue of Liberty, Thames Barrier, Titanic, Tower of the Orologio