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America's History in the Making

Resource Archive: Search Results

The New Colossus

The New ColossusNot like the brazen giant of Greek fame with conquering limbs astride from land to land; Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand a mighty woman with a torch, whose flame is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command the air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame, "Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she with silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore, send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Emma Lazarus "The New Colossus" (inscription from the Statue of Liberty, New York harbor, 1886).

Creator Emma Lazarus
Context On arriving in New York harbor, the Statue of Liberty welcomed immigrants.
Audience Immigrants and visitors to the Statue of Liberty
Purpose To raise money for the Statue of Liberty's pedestal

Historical Significance

Many immigrants left poverty and persecution in Europe, Asia, and Latin America, hoping to take advantage of democratic institutions and economic opportunity in the United States. For those who entered the country through New York City's harbor after 1886, their first glimpse of America was often the Statue of Liberty. Despite the welcoming tone of Emma Lazarus's poem, not all Americans were eager to receive them--even though some were fairly recent immigrants themselves.


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