The Statue Liberty

Emma Lazarus

While folks appear to enjoy tallying the “truthy-ness” of Trump’s “alternate facts,” those of the vile Stephen Miller, Trump’s policy adviser, seem to have slipped under the door.

In reference to the US welcoming the “tempest tossed” to the country, he noted that the poem (“The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus [1849-1887]) was only appended to the Statue of Liberty “later.”


In fact, the sonnet has never been attached to the Statue.

“The New Colossus” was written in 1883 as a fund-raiser for the pedestal of the Statue. It was published in both The New York World and The New York Times. The pedestal was fully funded in 1885. The bronze plaque bearing the poem was mounted inside the base in 1903. (The engraver omitted a comma, but that doesn’t matter.)

Paul Auster wrote that “Bartholdi’s gigantic effigy was originally intended as a monument to the principles of international republicanism, but ‘The New Colossus’ reinvented the statue’s purpose, turning Liberty into a welcoming mother, a symbol of hope to the outcasts and downtrodden of the world.” (2005)

In point of fact, it is not a very good poem. But it has moved millions for 135 years.