The Huddled Masses

Heinrichs, Ann
January 2001
Statue of Liberty (0-7565-0100-8);2001, p13
Emma Lazarus stood crying amid the mud of Ward's Island, in New York State. It was 1885. This island overflowing with Jewish refugees who had left Russia to escape harsh treatment. Lazarus' ancestors, too, had been Russian Jews. They had sailed to New York in the 1600s. Lazarus was well educated. Even as a child she was a talented poet. In 1885, when Emma was thirty-six years old, the Statue of Liberty committee had asked her to write a poem about the statue. She went to visit refugees on Ward's Island. Her Jewish faith and her hatred of religious persecution connected Emma to these people. Lazarus wrote a poem called "The New Colossus." This poem compared the Statue of Liberty in New York City, New York State to the Colossus of Rhodes in ancient Greece. Lazarus saw the Statue of Liberty as a sign of comfort and freedom for all the suffering people of the world. In 1903, this poem was placed on the inside wall of the statue's pedestal.


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