Langston Hughes Biography Herman Melville Biography
Emma Lazarus Bookmark Emma Lazarus (1849-1887)

"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!"


During the last quarter of the 19th century, Emma Lazarus was a star of the American literary scene. Her poems were published in the best magazines, her collections praised, her essays respected.

But as a Sephardic Jew, she also felt herself an outsider in American society. When the tide of anti-Semitism began to rise in Europe and at home, she became an outspoken and influential activist for equality and human rights, calling international attention to the pogroms in Russia and establishing educational programs for newly arrived Jewish refugees.

During the construction of the Statue of Liberty, Lazarus helped raise money for the construction of the pedestal. Lines quoted above from "The New Colossus," her sonnet about the Statue, appear at the base of the monument and stand as an enduring statement for immigrant rights and freedom.

Emma Lazarus
(1849-1887)