Ellis Island Era Immigration
Emma Lazarus (1849-1887) was an American poet, best known as the author of "The New Colossus," an 1883 sonnet that has become a famous credo of America's immigrant ideals. Lazarus, a native New Yorker, was born into an old American family of Sephardic Jews. Her sympathy for Jewish refugees from Europe in the 1880s grew into a broader sympathy for all immigrants. Lazarus died at a tragically young age, likely due to Hodgkin's disease.
Lazarus wrote "The New Colossus" in honor of the Statue of Liberty, which was under construction at the time. The poem's famous closing lines are written from the perspective of the statue herself:
Give me your tired, your poor
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore
I lift my lamp beside the golden door
The poem is now inscribed on a plaque inside the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.