Unless my Australian readers are History buffs with an interest in the French and American Revolutions (like Australian politicians Kim Beazley, Bob Carr et moi) they may not see the significance of these iconic symbols conjoined in this Image.
The image shows the Eiffel Tower in the background, with a 11 metre replica of the Statue of Liberty on the Île aux Cygnes, river Seine in Paris in the foreground. The original statue, a gift to the United States from the people of France, is of a robed female figure representing Libertas, the Roman goddess of freedom, who bears a torch and a tabula ansata (a tablet evoking the law) upon which is inscribed the date of the American Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776.
The smaller Statue of Liberty in Paris is near the Grenelle Bridge over the River Seine is 11.50 m high and was Inaugurated on July 4, 1889. Its tablet bears two dates: “IV JUILLET 1776” (July 4, 1776: the United States Declaration of Independence) like the New York statue, and “XIV JUILLET 1789” (July 14, 1789: the storming of the Bastille).
There is something unique in Franco-American political relationships. The French and English were competitors in the colonisation of the north of the New World. England fought four wars (the French & Indian Wars) before finally expelling the French from the continent. Interestingly, in the final Seven Years War fought in Canada, the discoverer of Eastern Australian, Captain Cook played a significant role in the taking of Quebec, by mapping the St Lawrence River, allowing the Fleet to take the city.
The French retaliated by secretly supporting the American colonies in their dispute with England, supplying men and materials. After the American Declaration of Independence, many French Military Officers joined the revolutionary army. After Washington’s victory and the surrender of the British in what was to become the USA , France was the first country to establish diplomatic relations with the new nation.
Six years later, the French Revolution toppled the Bourbon regime and President George Washington recognized the French government but remained neutral in the war between France and England. There was further co-operation between France under Napoleon Boneparte and The US 3rd President Thomas Jefferson, when France sold them the Louisiana Purchase for 15 million dollars, to keep the land out of the hands of England. Jefferson lived in Paris during the revolution and said this “French by blood, American by birth, I have devoted a part of my life to strengthening the bonds between two allied nations who, from Yorktown to this day, have always fought side by side for Liberty.”
More recently, during WW1 and WW2, it would be reasonable to say that the entry into both conflicts of US forces has been motivated more by a desire to support for France than any great love of England by America.