Armed Liberty

Statue of Freedom - Wikipedia
Armed Liberty

She is 19 feet, six inches tall and weighs 15,000 pounds. She wears a helmet with a crest of eagle feathers. Her right hand rests on the hilt of a sword, and her left hand holds a laurel leaf (symbolic of victory). 

This is a formidable woman. She’s known as “Armed Liberty,” and also as “The Statue of Freedom.” She has stood on top of the dome of the United States Capitol Building since 1863. She cost $23,797. 

She was designed by sculptor Thomas Crawford (1814-1857). But there is something odd about that helmet she’s wearing. Statues symbolic of freedom in the 1800s most often wore a “liberty cap,” symbolic of freed slaves. Armed Liberty does not. 

When sketches of the proposed statue were circulated, the US Secretary of War, one Jefferson Davis, objected. His objection was that a cap referring to freed slaves was not appropriate to the United States, because American citizens had never been slaves. 

His real reason was that as a slave owner (and future president of the Confederacy) a reference to freed slaves was a topic he did not want discussed. 

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