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A few people I know on social media are passing this image around this week.

Infographic showing two statues

The claim is the original Statue of Liberty was a black women, given to celebrate the end of the Civil War, and the US end to slavery.

For example, Urban Intellectuals claim to have evidence to support this claim.

1.) You may go and see the original model of the Statue of Liberty, with the broken chains at her feet and in her left hand. Go to the Museum of the City of NY, Fifth Avenue and 103rd Street write to Peter Simmons and he can send you some documentation.

2.) Check with the N.Y. Times magazine, part II_May 18, 1986. Read the article by Laboulaye.

3.) The dark original face of the Statue of Liberty can be seen in the N.Y. Post, June 17, 1986, also the Post stated the reason for the broken chains at her feet.

4.) Finally, you may check with the French Mission or the French Embassy at the U.N. or in Washington, D.C. and ask for some original French material on the Statue of Liberty, including the Bartholdi original model.

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    The National Park Service published the results of an investigation into these claims. I do not consider myself qualified to draw any conclusions from this. – called2voyage Sep 29 '15 at 14:07
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    I think this would have been accepted as true in American society if there was evidence for it. Americans nearly annihilated the American Indians, for example, but because it was so long ago its considered a safe topic to discuss in mass media. Also pro-old south/racists southerners love to point out any northern hypocrisy they can find in regards to slavery and racism. – Mark Rogers Sep 29 '15 at 14:34
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    Snopes marked it as false: snopes.com/history/american/statueofliberty.asp – Sean Duggan Sep 29 '15 at 14:52
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    Weird. The face looks green to me. – FreeAsInBeer Sep 29 '15 at 17:48
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    @FreeAsInBeer - I wish those damn green people would go back to wherever they came from. – Hannover Fist Sep 29 '15 at 18:43
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TL;DR: No.

To quote from the Snopes article, regarding the four points above:

  • You may go and see the original model of the Statue of Liberty, with the broken chains at her feet and in her left hand. Go to the Museum of the City of N.Y, Fifth Avenue and 103rd Street (212) 534-1672 or call the same number and dial ext. 208 and speak to Peter Simmons and he can send you some documentation.
    First of all, there was no one "original model" for the Statue of Liberty — sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi's design went through many evolutionary changes before he settled on its final form. The removal of chains that appeared in Lady Liberty's hands in earlier models was done not because it "would be offensive to the U.S. South," but for aesthetic reasons. As the same Dr. Haskins cited above wrote: "At first, she held a broken chain in her other hand, to symbolize the broken chains of bondage; later, Bartholdi decided she should hold a tablet, inscribed with the date of the Declaration of Independence, and that a fragment of chain would be on the ground, as if she had already thrown it there."

  • Broken chains fit the statue's theme, whether the message of liberty gained is applied to America's independence from Britain, France's then recent struggle with Prussia, or the freeing of African Americans from slavery. Pictures of the models for the Statue of Liberty held by The Museum of the City of New York are available for viewing via the web. Check with the NY Times magazine, part II May 18, 1986.
    We did, and we found that, in anticipation of the upcoming July 4 centennial celebration of the Statue of Liberty (and the culmination of a four-year, 66-million-dollar effort to repair and restore the famous monument), The New York Times magazine on that date was chock full of articles about the statue. None of them said anything even remotely supportive of the claims made here, however; in fact, they said quite the opposite. As Richard Bernstein, The New York Times' Paris bureau chief noted in that issue, the statue was intended as a tribute to both the American achievement of and French hopes for a nation of republic and liberty; in a sense, it was meant as an abstract symbol of the idealized future of France just as much as the realized past of America. Creating a tribute to those who fought the Civil War (or, even more specifically, to black Civil War soldiers) was far too concrete (and too distinctly American) a concept to have been a part of their plans.

  • The dark original face of the Statue of Liberty can be seen in the NY Post June 17, 1986, also the Post stated the reason for the broken chains at her feet.
    Yes, the "original" face of the Statue of Liberty was dark, for the simple reason that the materials of which it was made were originally dark. Eric Fettmann, the author of the New York Post article cited above, wrote:
    As for the photo of the supposed "African" face featured in The Post, the picture is not — as incorrectly captioned — an early model, but shows the actual face that now stands over New York Harbor. The photo, as shown in Marvin Trachtenberg's marvelous 1976 architectural history of the statue, shows Liberty's head during construction on what was then Bedloe's Island shortly before its dedication in October 1886.

    It appears "black" for a simple reason: the copper statue's original color was not the familiar green we see today — the patina that naturally occurs over the course of repeated exposure to the elements — but a much darker orange-red bronze. (Actually, as the oxidation process continued, the statue first turned pitch black before reaching its current green hue, as Bartholdi knew it would.)


    The reason that Fettmann offers for the broken chains is that Bartholdi "adapted the statue from a failed project to construct a giant lighthouse at the entrance to the Suez Canal in Egypt"; Bartholdi's original design for the lighthouse included a female figure with the broken chains of slavery at her feet.

  • Finally, you may check with the French Mission or the French Embassy at the U.N or in Washington, DC and ask for some original French material on the Statue of Liberty, including the Bartholdi original model.
    The Embassy of France located in Washington would prefer not to be contacted by those looking for this 'original French material on the Statue of Liberty' because they can't help them. According to its Press and Information Service, "We constantly get calls from people requesting for information [on this issue], and we do not have reliable information to give them."

They also note of that first picture that "The image is actually a photo of the Lady Liberty statue at the Agrément roundabout on the Caribbean island of St. Maarten, which was sculpted by Theodore Bonev in 2007 to commemorate the 159th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. It has no connection (other than a thematic one) to the Statue of Liberty in New York."

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    Since Agrément is in the north (French) half of the island and the 1848 emancipation was French only (Dutch slavery lasted another 15 years), it might be better to call it Saint-Martin – Henry Sep 29 '15 at 19:32
  • @Henry: It's a direct quote. I suppose I could add a (sic) to it? – Sean Duggan Sep 29 '15 at 19:41
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    @SeanDuggan, could you add a sentence or two to the top of your answer that actually answers the question? It takes a fair amount of reading to be sure that you're arguing "no it wasn't" rather than "yes it was". – Joe Lee-Moyet Sep 30 '15 at 12:26
  • Bonus link proving that original design was "Egypt Brings Light to Asia" as lighthouse for the Suez Canal. – Peter M. Sep 30 '15 at 23:28

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