The New Colossus

Emma Lazarus (1849–1887) was born in New York City to a wealthy family and educated by private tutors. Lazarus was one of the first successful and highly visible Jewish American authors. She advocated for Jewish refugees and argued for the creation of a Jewish homeland before the concept of Zionism was in wide circulation. She was commissioned to write a poem to help raise funds for the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. She initially declined and then wrote a sonnet commemorating the plight of immigrants. Lines from that 1883 sonnet, “The New Colossus,” were engraved on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty in 1903.

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