The Statue of Liberty was a gift from France that first showed up in New York in 1876. You can read the history of its design and construction in an earlier Neatorama post. Even though the statue was impressive, it wasn’t requested, it was expensive to maintain, and it didn’t even function well as the lighthouse it was designed to be. It wasn’t all that popular among New York residents.
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Emma Lazarus wrote the poem “The New Colossus” in 1883 for an art auction that was a fundraiser to build the pedestal for the statue. However, the poem was never published and played no part in the opening of the statue in 1886. Lazarus died in 1887.
Georgina Schuyler was a friend of Lazarus, and around the turn of the century, she began campaign to revive the poem, for two reasons: she wanted to honor her friend, and she wanted to make a stand against the bigotry Americans felt for some of the new immigrants coming to the shores of New York. New immigrants already saw the vision of the Statue of Liberty as a sign that they had arrived. Schuyler succeeded in getting a bronze plaque of the poem installed at the statue in 1903. From there, Lady Liberty took on a new meaning and a new reputation. Read how all that happened at Smithsonian.
(Image credit: MadGrin)