Statue of Freedom
Overview
 
The Statue of Freedom — also known as Armed Freedom or simply Freedom — is a bronze
Bronze
Bronze is a metal alloy consisting primarily of copper, usually with tin as the main additive. It is hard and brittle, and it was particularly significant in antiquity, so much so that the Bronze Age was named after the metal...

 statue
Statue
A statue is a sculpture in the round representing a person or persons, an animal, an idea or an event, normally full-length, as opposed to a bust, and at least close to life-size, or larger...

 designed by Thomas Crawford that, since 1863, has crowned the dome
United States Capitol dome
The United States Capitol dome is the massive dome situated above the United States Capitol which reaches upwards to in height and in diameter. The dome was designed by Thomas U...

 of the U.S. Capitol
United States Capitol
The United States Capitol is the meeting place of the United States Congress, the legislature of the federal government of the United States. Located in Washington, D.C., it sits atop Capitol Hill at the eastern end of the National Mall...

 in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

. Originally named Freedom Triumphant in War and Peace, official U.S. government publications now state that the statue "is officially known as the Statue of Freedom". The statue depicts a female figure holding a sheathed sword in her right hand and a laurel wreath and shield in her left hand.
Freedom is a colossal bronze
Bronze
Bronze is a metal alloy consisting primarily of copper, usually with tin as the main additive. It is hard and brittle, and it was particularly significant in antiquity, so much so that the Bronze Age was named after the metal...

 standing figure 19½-feet (6 meters) tall and weighing approximately 15,000 pounds (6,800 kg).
Encyclopedia
The Statue of Freedom — also known as Armed Freedom or simply Freedom — is a bronze
Bronze
Bronze is a metal alloy consisting primarily of copper, usually with tin as the main additive. It is hard and brittle, and it was particularly significant in antiquity, so much so that the Bronze Age was named after the metal...

 statue
Statue
A statue is a sculpture in the round representing a person or persons, an animal, an idea or an event, normally full-length, as opposed to a bust, and at least close to life-size, or larger...

 designed by Thomas Crawford that, since 1863, has crowned the dome
United States Capitol dome
The United States Capitol dome is the massive dome situated above the United States Capitol which reaches upwards to in height and in diameter. The dome was designed by Thomas U...

 of the U.S. Capitol
United States Capitol
The United States Capitol is the meeting place of the United States Congress, the legislature of the federal government of the United States. Located in Washington, D.C., it sits atop Capitol Hill at the eastern end of the National Mall...

 in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

. Originally named Freedom Triumphant in War and Peace, official U.S. government publications now state that the statue "is officially known as the Statue of Freedom". The statue depicts a female figure holding a sheathed sword in her right hand and a laurel wreath and shield in her left hand.

Description

Freedom is a colossal bronze
Bronze
Bronze is a metal alloy consisting primarily of copper, usually with tin as the main additive. It is hard and brittle, and it was particularly significant in antiquity, so much so that the Bronze Age was named after the metal...

 standing figure 19½-feet (6 meters) tall and weighing approximately 15,000 pounds (6,800 kg). Her crest peaks at 288 feet (88 meters) above the east front plaza of the U.S. Capitol. She is a female allegorical
Allegory
Allegory is a demonstrative form of representation explaining meaning other than the words that are spoken. Allegory communicates its message by means of symbolic figures, actions or symbolic representation...

 figure whose right hand holds the hilt of a sheathed sword
Sword
A sword is a bladed weapon used primarily for cutting or thrusting. The precise definition of the term varies with the historical epoch or the geographical region under consideration...

 while a laurel wreath
Laurel wreath
A laurel wreath is a circular wreath made of interlocking branches and leaves of the bay laurel , an aromatic broadleaf evergreen. In Greek mythology, Apollo is represented wearing a laurel wreath on his head...

 of victory and the Shield of the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 are clasped in her left hand. The heraldic shield is the same as in the Great Seal of the United States
Great Seal of the United States
The Great Seal of the United States is used to authenticate certain documents issued by the United States federal government. The phrase is used both for the physical seal itself , and more generally for the design impressed upon it...

, with thirteen stripes, except that the chief
Chief (heraldry)
In heraldic blazon, a chief is a charge on a coat of arms that takes the form of a band running horizontally across the top edge of the shield. Writers disagree in how much of the shield's surface is to be covered by the chief, ranging from one-fourth to one-third. The former is more likely if the...

 has stars (again, thirteen). Her chiton
Chiton (costume)
A chiton was a form of clothing worn by men and women in Ancient Greece, from the Archaic period to the Hellenistic period ....

 is secured by a brooch inscribed "U.S." and is partially covered by a heavy, Native American
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

-style fringed blanket thrown over her left shoulder. She faces east towards the main entrance of the building because that was the original main entrance to the U.S. Capitol building. She wears a military helmet adorned with stars and an eagle's head which is itself crowned by an umbrella-like crest of feathers. Freedom stands atop a cast-iron globe encircled with one of the national mottoes, E pluribus unum
E pluribus unum
E pluribus unum , Latin for "Out of many, one", is a phrase on the Seal of the United States, along with Annuit cœptis and Novus ordo seclorum, and adopted by an Act of Congress in 1782...

. The lower part of the base is decorated with fasces
Fasces
Fasces are a bundle of wooden sticks with an axe blade emerging from the center, which is an image that traditionally symbolizes summary power and jurisdiction, and/or "strength through unity"...

 and wreaths. Ten bronze points tipped with platinum
Platinum
Platinum is a chemical element with the chemical symbol Pt and an atomic number of 78. Its name is derived from the Spanish term platina del Pinto, which is literally translated into "little silver of the Pinto River." It is a dense, malleable, ductile, precious, gray-white transition metal...

 are attached to her headdress, shoulders, and shield for protection from lightning
Lightning
Lightning is an atmospheric electrostatic discharge accompanied by thunder, which typically occurs during thunderstorms, and sometimes during volcanic eruptions or dust storms...

.

Design


A monumental statue for the top of the national Capitol appeared in architect Thomas U. Walter
Thomas U. Walter
Thomas Ustick Walter of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was an American architect, the dean of American architecture between the 1820 death of Benjamin Latrobe and the emergence of H.H. Richardson in the 1870s...

's original drawing for the new cast-iron dome, which was authorized in 1855. Walter's drawing showed the outline of a statue representing the goddess Liberty
Liberty (goddess)
Goddesses named for and representing the concept Liberty have existed in many cultures, including classical examples dating from the Roman Empire and some national symbols such as the British "Britannia" or the Irish "Kathleen Ni Houlihan"....

; Crawford proposed an allegorical figure of Freedom Triumphant in War and Peace.

Crawford was commissioned to design the Statue of Freedom in 1854 and executed the plaster model for the statue in his studio in Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

. Mississippi
Mississippi
Mississippi is a U.S. state located in the Southern United States. Jackson is the state capital and largest city. The name of the state derives from the Mississippi River, which flows along its western boundary, whose name comes from the Ojibwe word misi-ziibi...

 Senator and Secretary of War
United States Secretary of War
The Secretary of War was a member of the United States President's Cabinet, beginning with George Washington's administration. A similar position, called either "Secretary at War" or "Secretary of War," was appointed to serve the Congress of the Confederation under the Articles of Confederation...

 Jefferson Davis
Jefferson Davis
Jefferson Finis Davis , also known as Jeff Davis, was an American statesman and leader of the Confederacy during the American Civil War, serving as President for its entire history. He was born in Kentucky to Samuel and Jane Davis...

 (who would later become President of the Confederacy
Confederate States of America
The Confederate States of America was a government set up from 1861 to 1865 by 11 Southern slave states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S...

) was in charge of the Capitol construction and its decorations. According to David Hackett Fischer
David Hackett Fischer
David Hackett Fischer is University Professor and Earl Warren Professor of History at Brandeis University. Fischer's major works have tackled everything from large macroeconomic and cultural trends to narrative histories of significant events to explorations of...

 in his book Liberty and Freedom, Crawford’s statue was…
…very close to Jefferson Davis’s ideas in every way but one…. Above the crown he [had] added a liberty cap
Liberty cap
Chiefly it refers to:*liberty cap, a brimless felt cap, such as the Phrygian cap or pileus, emblematic of a slave's manumission in the Ancient World.The phrase may also refer to:*Liberty Cap, a celebrated granite dome in Yosemite National Park...

, the old Roman symbol of an emancipated slave. It seemed a direct affront to a militant slaveholder, and Jefferson Davis exploded with rage. The northern sculptor and the southern slaveholder had already clashed over a liberty cap in the interior decoration of the Capitol.
Davis sent his aide, Captain Montgomery Meigs
Montgomery C. Meigs
Montgomery Cunningham Meigs was a career United States Army officer, civil engineer, construction engineer for a number of facilities in Washington, D.C., and Quartermaster General of the U.S. Army during and after the American Civil War....

, with orders to remove the cap, saying that “its history renders it inappropriate to a people who were born free and would not be enslaved”. A military helmet, with an American eagle
Bald Eagle
The Bald Eagle is a bird of prey found in North America. It is the national bird and symbol of the United States of America. This sea eagle has two known sub-species and forms a species pair with the White-tailed Eagle...

 head and crest of feathers, replaced the cap in the sculpture's final version. (Today many casual observers take the statue, with its eagle and feathers, to be an American Indian
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

.)

Execution

Crawford died in 1857 before the full size plaster model left his studio. The model, packed into six crates, was shipped from Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 in a small sailing vessel in the spring of 1858. During the voyage the ship began to leak and stopped in Gibraltar
Gibraltar
Gibraltar is a British overseas territory located on the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula at the entrance of the Mediterranean. A peninsula with an area of , it has a northern border with Andalusia, Spain. The Rock of Gibraltar is the major landmark of the region...

 for repairs. After leaving Gibraltar, the ship began leaking again to the point that it could go no farther than Bermuda
Bermuda
Bermuda is a British overseas territory in the North Atlantic Ocean. Located off the east coast of the United States, its nearest landmass is Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, about to the west-northwest. It is about south of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and northeast of Miami, Florida...

, where the model was stored until other transportation could be arranged. Half of the crates finally arrived in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 in December, but all sections were not in Washington, D.C. until late March 1859.

Beginning in 1860, the statue was cast in five main sections by Clark Mills
Clark Mills (sculptor)
Clark Mills was an American sculptor, best known for three versions of an equestrian statue of Andrew Jackson, located in Washington, D.C., Nashville, Tennessee, and New Orleans, Louisiana.-Life:...

, whose bronze foundry was located on the outskirts of Washington. Work was halted in 1861 because of the Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

, but by the end of 1862 the statue was finished and temporarily displayed on the Capitol grounds. The cost of the statue, exclusive of installation, was $23,796.82. Late in 1863, construction of the dome was sufficiently advanced for the installation of the statue, which was hoisted by slaves in sections and assembled atop the cast-iron pedestal. The final section, the figure's head and shoulders, was raised on December 2, 1863, to a salute of 35 guns answered by the guns of the 12 forts around Washington.

While Freedom was being cast at Mills' foundry the foreman in charge of the casting went on strike. Instead of paying him the higher wages he demanded Mills turned the project over to Philip Reid
Philip Reid
Philip Reid was born a slave in the early 19th century at Charleston, South Carolina. He came to be a master craftsman and artisan, playing a key role in the completion of the United States Capitol at Washington D.C....

, one of the slaves working at the facility. Reid presided over the rest of the casting and assembly of the figure. The figure was placed in position on December 2, 1863. Reid had to wait until November 1864, at which time he, at least symbolically, received his freedom cap
Phrygian cap
The Phrygian cap is a soft conical cap with the top pulled forward, associated in antiquity with the inhabitants of Phrygia, a region of central Anatolia. In the western provinces of the Roman Empire it came to signify freedom and the pursuit of liberty, perhaps through a confusion with the pileus,...

.

Restoration

On May 9, 1993, after being in place almost 130 years, the statue was brought down from its pedestal by helicopter
Helicopter
A helicopter is a type of rotorcraft in which lift and thrust are supplied by one or more engine-driven rotors. This allows the helicopter to take off and land vertically, to hover, and to fly forwards, backwards, and laterally...

 for restoration, also giving tourists a chance to see the statue up close. The work was needed because of extensive pitting and corrosion on the surface of the bronze and because of a crack and rusting on the cast-iron pedestal. The project was guided by the recommendations of a thorough conservation and engineering study conducted in 1991. The United States Capitol Preservation Commission
United States Capitol Preservation Commission
The United States Capitol Preservation Commission was established under Title VIII of Public Law 100-696 in November 1988 for the purpose of providing for improvements in, preservation of, and acquisitions for the United States Capitol and other locations under the control of the Congress...

 provided $780,000 in privately raised funds, which covered all project costs. The work was performed by New Arts Foundry of Baltimore, Maryland.

The cast-iron pedestal was restored in place atop the dome. The metal was stripped of paint, and the wreaths and fasces were removed to ensure that they were thoroughly cleaned and coated. The crack was permanently repaired, and the entire pedestal was primed and painted with a color specially mixed to match the statue. Since then, every 2–3 years, the statue undergoes two weeks of cleaning and recoating as necessary.

Restoration of the statue and the pedestal was completed in approximately four months. The Statue of Freedom was returned to its pedestal by helicopter on October 23, 1993, amid the celebration of the bicentennial of the U.S. Capitol.

The plaster model of the statue, which had been in storage for 25 years, was reassembled and restored in the basement rotunda of the Russell Senate Office Building
Russell Senate Office Building
The Russell Senate Office Building is the oldest of the United States Senate office buildings. Designed in the Beaux-Arts architectural style, it was built from 1903 to 1908, opened in 1909, and named for former Senator Richard Brevard Russell, Jr. of Georgia in 1972...

, where it was returned to permanent public display in January 1993. The plaster model was relocated to the Emancipation Hall of the Capitol Visitor Center
United States Capitol Visitor Center
The United States Capitol Visitor Center is a large underground addition to the United States Capitol complex which serves as a gathering point for up to 4,000 tourists and an expansion space for the US Congress. It is located below the East Front of the Capitol and its plaza, between the Capitol...

, which provides more visitors access to look at the statue’s details.

The head of the statue is depicted on a postage stamp (1923, USA Scott No.
Scott catalogue
The Scott catalogue of postage stamps, published by Scott Publishing Co, a subsidiary of Amos Press, is updated annually and lists all the stamps of the entire world which its editors recognize as issued for postal purposes. It is published in six large volumes and is also produced in...

 573), which was re-issued in 2006. The entire statue is depicted on a stamp commemorating the 150th anniversary of Washington, D.C. (1950, USA Scott No. 989).

The Statue of Freedom can be found on the reverse side of the Iraq Campaign Medal
Iraq Campaign Medal
The Iraq Campaign Medal is a military award of the United States armed forces which was created by Executive Order 13363 of President George W. Bush on November 29, 2004. The Iraq Campaign Medal was designed by the U.S. Army Institute of Heraldry....

 decoration authorized to be awarded to members of the U.S. military who deploy to Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

 in direct support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The civilian version of the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
The Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal is a United States armed forces military award created by George W. Bush on March 12, 2003 by Executive Order 13289. It recognizes those military service members who have deployed overseas in direct service to the War on Terror from September 11,...

, known as the Global War on Terrorism Civilian Service Medal, also depicts the statue on the obverse
Obverse and reverse
Obverse and its opposite, reverse, refer to the two flat faces of coins and some other two-sided objects, including paper money, flags , seals, medals, drawings, old master prints and other works of art, and printed fabrics. In this usage, obverse means the front face of the object and reverse...

(front face) of the medal.

External links

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