Short Writing #2
Emma Lazarus’s poem “The New Colossus” was written in 1883 to commend the completion of the building of the Statue of Liberty. This statue has, in time, become the outmost expression of America’s image as a welcoming country to immigrants and travelers. In her poem, Lazarus transforms the Statue of Liberty into a symbol of hope for newcomers seeking an improved life in the United States. “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled mass yearning to breathe free,” says Lady Liberty in Lazarus’s poem, “the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” The torch of the Statue of Liberty, the “lamp beside the golden door,” showed way for millions of immigrants for many generations. Emma Lazarus’s poem was inscribed on a bronze plaque inside the statue itself in 1903. (The New Colossus) The poem continues to be a beloved creed for those celebrating America as being a notable destination for immigrants.
Immigration hasn’t always been so celebratory and welcoming in America, however. According to The Nativist Press, immigrants were looked at as a problem and a disease. The immigrants who were most popularly immigrating into the United States around the time of this poem being written, 1880-1930, were the Irish, German, and English. (Making Americans, Remaking America) Different nationalities were stereotyped as different things, including the Irish being coarse, common, lazy, and wine guzzling. Foreigners weren’t welcome, and they weren’t wanted. They took away jobs from the Americans and they undermined the American political system. The immigrants also came abroad with their own economic systems and currencies. Differences in language became to be viewed as a barrier between different nationalities. The threat of disease was also was a visible concern, as stops at Ellis Island were set up to check for lice, immunizations, and other possible illnesses that...
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