LIBERTY’S TRIUMPHANT SYMBOLISM
By Attorney Jonathan Emord
October 11, 2010
Nothing touches the heart more profoundly than when a people yearning to be free courageously resist tyranny. Since the turn of the Seventeenth Century, there have been thousands of memorable instances of extraordinary courage and determination by people willing to pay the ultimate price for freedom. Some of those instances come with symbolism so profound that they stand out as historic markers of man’s unending quest to be freed of the shackles from government. Here are a few of those instances, ones that affected all of humanity at the time they occurred and continue to linger in human consciousness, beckoning us to be vigilant in defense of those same liberties today: (1) the toppling of the statue of George III in Bowling Green, New York; (2) the lone unarmed protestor in Tiananmen Square facing down a column of tanks; and (3) President Ronald Reagan at the Brandenburg Gate beseeching Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall.”
On August 21, 1770, in Bowling Green, New York (at what is now Broadway in lower Manhattan), agents of the Crown erected a 4,000 pound gilded lead statue of King George III wrapped in the Roman garb of an emperor riding atop a powerful stallion. The statue invited spectators to be humbled by the monarch’s absolute power. The colonists refused the invitation. Joseph Wilton from London designed the statue at the Crown’s request to fill the colonists with a sense of awe and deference for the Hanoverian King; instead, the statue became a focal point for colonial protests against British oppression. Offended by the imposition of laws that would tax and regulate them without their representation in Parliament, colonists desecrated the base of the statue with graffiti expressing their revulsion for monarchical tyranny. In 1773, the colonial government of New York enacted an anti-graffiti law and encircled the statue with a protective cast-iron fence. Atop each fence post were miniature cast iron crowns. Angry colonists cut the crowns off several of the posts.