- from Postwar Change and Growth
750L - 890L
Poet Emma Lazarus wrote these famous words: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free . . . . ” She wrote them to help raise funds to build a pedestal for the Statue of Liberty.
That giant gift from France was meant to celebrate democratic government and the end of slavery in the United States. When it arrived, it was given a place of honor in New York Harbor. A few years later, Ellis Island opened nearby as an immigration station. As their ships pulled in, immigrants cheered Lady Liberty. Then they went on to be screened at Ellis Island. If they weren’t sick, they could proceed to their new homeland. Sometimes, they were welcomed. More often, new immigrants faced unfair treatment.
On the west side of the country, immigrants had a similar but different experience. Sometimes they had to wait months to learn if they could enter the United States. While awaiting their fate, they had to stay at Angel Island near San Francisco.
From The New Land by Elma Ehrlich Levinger. Block Publishing Company, 1920.