Not 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!”
Between 1820 and 1920, approximately 34 million persons immigrated to the United States, three-fourths of them staying permanently. For many of these newcomers, their first glimpse of America was the Statue of Liberty in New York harbor.
The statue, sculpted by Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, had been conceived of as a gift of friendship from the people of France marking the two nations’ commitment to liberty. France provided $400,000 for the 151-foot statue, and a fundraising drive in the United States netted $270,000 for the 89-foot pedestal.
The Jewish American poet Emma Lazarus saw the statue as a beacon to the world. A poem she wrote to help raise money for the pedestal, and which is carved on that pedestal, captured what the statue came to mean to the millions who migrated to the United States seeking freedom, and who have continued to come unto this day.
— The U.S. Department of State