Statue of Liberty Emma Lazarus
Statue of Liberty ©Author Adventures

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,”
— Emma Lazarus

Emma Lazarus Statue of Liberty
1926 Photo of Statue of Liberty from Boat Coming into New York Harbor, courtesy of Jacqui Bally

Emma Lazarus, Poet and Advocate

The New Colossus, a poem by Emma Lazarus (1849-1887) of New York, is inscribed on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, where it has been on display since 1901. Written in 1883, it has become one of America’s best-known and respected poems, as it welcomed many ships of immigrants coming into the New York Harbor in the early 1900s.

“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!” — Emma Lazarus

Lazarus is remembered in history books and museum exhibits about Judaism in America. On January 3, 2012, The New York Times published an article that presents fascinating facts about her heritage. It includes this highlight of her heritage: “Lazarus’s roots were in elite Sephardic Jewish families who were leaders of the first synagogues established in New York, Philadelphia and Newport, R.I. Moses Mendes Seixas, Lazarus’s great-great uncle, welcomed President George Washington to the Newport congregation Jeshuat Israel in 1790 and presented him with a floridly written letter, on display here, praising a government ‘which to bigotry gives no sanction, to persecution no assistance.’ Those words were used almost verbatim by Washington in his response, one of the nation’s first affirmations of religious liberty.”

Statue of Liberty

Visiting the Statue of Liberty, cared for by the National Park Service, is a must for anyone touring New York. Read more about it here: https://www.nps.gov/stli/learn/historyculture/colossus.htm.

We thank reader Jacqui Bally for contributing the 1926 photo of the Statue of Liberty, taken by her great-grandfather as he traveled on a ship bound for New York.

This is the second stop on our New York Author Adventures Trail!

Patricia Smart