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Ellis Island Era Immigration Quotes

They Said It

"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-tost to me / I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

- Poet Emma Lazarus, "The New Colossus," 1883, inscribed beneath the Statue of Liberty in 190338
"Wide open and unguarded stand our gates / And through them presses a wild motley throng / Men from the Volga and the Tartar steppes / Featureless figures of the Hoang-Ho / Malayan, Scythian, Teuton, Kelt, and Slav / Flying the Old World's poverty and scorn / These bringing with them unknown gods and rites / Those, tiger passions, here to stretch their claws / In street and alley what strange tongues are loud / Accents of menace alien to our air / Voices that once the Tower of Babel knew! / O Liberty, white Goddess! Is it well / To leave the gates unguarded?"

- Poet Thomas Bailey Aldrich, "Unguarded Gates," 1895
"These men of many nations must be taught American ways, the English language, and the right way to live."

- Henry Ford, on immigrants39
"He doesn't like my name... Of course we couldn't all come over on the Mayflower... But I got here as soon as I could, and I never wanted to go back, because to me it is a great privilege to be an American citizen."

- Anton Cermak, Czech-born Chicago mayoral candidate, 193140
"Observe immigrants not as they come travel-wan up the gang-plank, nor as they issue toil-begrimed from the pit's mouth or mill-gate, but in their gatherings, washed, combed, and in their Sunday best.... [They] are hirsute, low-browed, big-faced persons of obviously low mentality... They simply look out of place in black clothes and stiff collar, since clearly they belong in skins, in wattled huts at the close of the Great Ice Age. These ox-like men are descendants of those who always stayed behind."

- Sociologist E. A. Ross, 191441

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