"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 was an American poet born July 22, 1849 in New York City. She is best known for writing "The New Colossus", a sonnet written in 1883, which is now engraved on a bronze plaque on a wall in the base of the Statue of Liberty. The sonnet was solicited by William Maxwell Evarts as a donation to an auction, conducted by the "Art Loan Fund Exhibition in Aid of the Bartholdi Pedestal Fund for the Statue of Liberty" to raise funds to build the pedestal. Her poem was placed on the Statue of Liberty in 1903.
Lazarus was the fourth of seven children of Moses Lazarus and Esther Cardozo, Portuguese Sephardic Jews. Her uncle was the famous Supreme Court Justice, Benjamin Cardozo. From an early age, she studied American and European literature, as well as several languages, including German, French and Italian. Her writings attracted the attention of Ralph Waldo Emerson, who corresponded with her up until his death.
She wrote her own original poems and edited many adaptations of German and Italian poems, notably those of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Heinrich Heine. Lazarus' latent Judaism was awakened after reading the George Eliot novel, Daniel Deronda, and this was further strengthened by the Russian pogroms in the early 1880s. This led Lazarus to write articles on the subject and to begin translating the works of Jewish poets into English.
When Eastern European Ashkenazi Jews, expelled in great numbers from the Russian Pale of Settlement began to appear in destitute multitudes in New York in the winter of 1882, Miss Lazarus interested herself actively in providing technical education to make them self-supporting. She traveled twice to Europe, first in May 1885 after the death of her father in March and again in September 1887. She returned to New York City seriously ill after her second trip and died two months later on 19 November 1887, most likely from Hodgkin's disease. She is known as an important forerunner of the Zionist movement. In fact, she argued for the creation of a Jewish homeland thirteen years before Herzl began to use the term Zionism.
The Statue of Liberty (Liberty Enlightening the World; French: La Liberté éclairant le monde) is a colossal neoclassical sculpture on Liberty Island in New York Harbor, designed by Frédéric Bartholdi and dedicated on October 28, 1886. First to be used as a 'lighthouse' which she failed at, The Statue of Liberty became a beacon of so much more. In her face many coming through the harbor see her as the icon of freedom.
The statue, a gift to the United States from the people of France, is of a robed female figure representing Libertas, the Roman goddess of freedom, who bears a torch and a tabula ansata (a tablet evoking the law) upon which is inscribed the date of the American Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776. A broken chain lies at her feet. The statue has become an icon of freedom and of the United States. Bartholdi was inspired by French law professor and politician Édouard René de Laboulaye, who commented in 1865 that any monument raised to American independence would properly be a joint project of the French and American peoples. Due to the troubled political situation in France, work on the statue did not commence until the early 1870s. In 1875, Laboulaye proposed\\that the French finance the statue and the Americans
provide the pedestal and the site.
The statue was constructed in France, shipped overseas in crates, and assembled on the completed pedestal on what was then called Bedloe's Island. The statue's completion was marked by New York's first ticker-tape parade and a dedication ceremony presided over by President Grover Cleveland.
|Unveiling of the Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World (1886) by Edward Moran. Oil on canvas. The J. Clarence Davies Collection, Museum of the City of New York.|
Shortly after the dedication, the Cleveland Gazette, an African American newspaper, suggested that the statue's torch not be lit until the United States became a free nation "in reality":
"Liberty enlightening the world," indeed! The expression makes us sick. This government is a howling farce. It can not or rather does not protect its citizens within its own borders. Shove the Bartholdi statue, torch and all, into the ocean until the "liberty" of this country is such as to make it possible for an inoffensive and industrious colored man to earn a respectable living for himself and family, without being ku-kluxed, perhaps murdered, his daughter and wife outraged, and his property destroyed. The idea of the "liberty" of this country "enlightening the world," or even Patagonia, is ridiculous in the extreme.At first, the country was open to every person wishing to make a new start. Many came to America to escape war, poverty, famine, or religious persecution. Some came seeking fortune and others were brought against their will to work as slaves. These and other factors resulted in a large-scale influx of immigrants to the United States from around the world. America is a nation of immigrants and that it has always been, and should continue to be, a safe haven for people seeking a better life. Every day thousands leave their homeland to come to the "land of the free and the home of the brave" so they can begin their own American Dream. They still believe in the inscription on the base of the Statue of Liberty.
The statue was administered by the United States Lighthouse Board until 1901 and then by the Department of War; since 1933 it has been maintained by the National Park Service. The statue was closed for renovation for much of 1938. In the early 1980s, it was found to have deteriorated to such an extent that a major restoration was required. While the statue was closed from 1984 to 1986, the torch and a large part of the internal structure were replaced. After the September 11 attacks in 2001, it was closed for reasons of safety and security; the pedestal reopened in 2004 and the statue in 2009, with limits on the number of visitors allowed to ascend to the crown. The statue, including the pedestal and base, closed beginning on October 29, 2011, for up to a year so that a secondary staircase and other safety features can be installed; Liberty Island remains open. Public access to the balcony surrounding the torch has been barred for safety reasons since 1916.
At first, the country was open to every person wishing to make a new start. Many came to America to escape war, poverty, famine, or religious persecution. Some came seeking fortune and others were brought against their will to work as slaves. These and other factors resulted in a large-scale influx of immigrants to the United States from around the world.
America is a nation of immigrants and that it has always been, and should continue to be, a safe haven for people seeking a better life. Every day thousands leave their homeland to come to the "land of the free and the home of the brave" so they can begin their own American Dream. They still believe in the inscription on the base of the Statue of Liberty.
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