As part of an auction held in 1883 to raise funds for a pedestal to be placed beneath the Statue of Liberty, which was a gift to America from France as part of the centennial celebration of 1876, Emma Lazarus wrote “The New Colossus.” Her poem spoke to the millions of immigrants who came to America in search of freedom and opportunity. She saw the new statue as a symbol of hope and an inspiration to the world. In 1902, the poem was engraved on a bronze plaque at the base of the Statue of Liberty.
The New Colossus
Not 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-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”