The New Colossus

by Emma Lazarus (1849-1887)

“Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame…”

statue of libertyNot 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!”


About the Author

Emma Lazarus

Emma Lazarus, the poetess, is probably best known for her poem associated with the Statue of Liberty. Her poem has become one of the quintessential statements of a U.S. ideal of open immigration. Her poem “The New Colossus” stands as a stirring statement of the American ethos.

Emma Lazarus was born to Moses and Esther Nathan Lazarus in New York City on July 22, 1849. Emma grew up in a prominent fourth generation Jewish family, one of the oldest in New York City. She was well educated and by age 25 was a published poet and author.

She wrote “The New Colossus” in 1883 for an art auction “in Aid of the Bartholdi Pedestal Fund.” While France had provided the statue itself, American fundraising efforts like these paid for the Statue of Liberty’s pedestal. In 1903, sixteen years after her death, Lazarus’ sonnet was engraved on a plaque and placed in the pedestal as a memorial.

About The New Colossus

President Grover Cleveland delivered an address at Liberty’s dedication ceremony in October of 1886 and finally unveiled the statue to the American people. In 1903 the sonnet “The New Colossus” by American poet Emma Lazarus was inscribed in bronze at the base of the statue, enhancing the Statue of Liberty’s image as a symbol of freedom and opportunity. In 1924 the statue was declared a national monument and was fully restored in 1986 by a French-American rehabilitation project to celebrate its centennial year.

The History of the Statue of Liberty

Officially named Liberty Enlightening the World, the Statue of Liberty was designed by French sculptor Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi. After finalizing the design, wooden molds were made over which copper sheets were attached and hammered into shape. The copper shell was then joined to an internal iron structure designed by Gustave Eiffel, the man who later built the Eiffel Tower.

The statue was funded completely through donations made by the French people to commemorate the centennial of the alliance between the United States and France during the American Revolution. On the 4th of July, 1884, the 151 feet (46 meters) tall 225 ton Statue of Liberty was delivered to the American Ambassador in Paris. The Statue of Liberty was then dismantled into 300 pieces and packed into 214 wooden crates in order to bring it to New York Harbor.

The Statue of Liberty arrived in New York Harbor on June 17, 1886, and was placed on a massive monument designed by Richard Morris Hunt. The concrete and granite pedestal was surrounded by a star-shaped wall, which was part of Fort Wood, originally built to defend New York during the War of 1812.