The Story Behind the Statue of Liberty

A Trump immigration official suggested that Lady Liberty didn't want tired, poor, huddled masses — just working class Europeans. This history of America's most iconic statue proves otherwise. 🗽

Meet Lady Liberty

The Statue of Liberty is a 151-foot figure of the Roman goddess Libertas. It sits atop Liberty Island in New York Harbor. French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi wanted to create a monument to celebrate the bond between the United States and France. Funding issues delayed the project and led construction to last from the early 1870s through 1884. She was disassembled and shipped to the U.S. in pieces, before being unveiled and dedicated in New York on October 28, 1886.

Constructed of copper, the statue’s current color is green — a reaction of oxidation to the copper that actually protects the statue from further deterioration. At the base of the statue is the poem “The New Colossus” by American poet Emma Lazarus, which served to welcome new immigrants to America. She was the first thing seen in America by many of the 12 million immigrants entering the U.S. through nearby Ellis Island. It also revives an aspect of the statue’s long-forgotten history: Lady Liberty was originally designed to celebrate the end of slavery, not the arrival of immigrants.

Ellis Island, the inspection station through which millions of immigrants passed, didn’t open until six years after the statue was unveiled in 1886. The plaque with the famous Emma Lazarus poem — “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” — wasn’t added until 1903. In 2019, a Trump administration official suggested that the poem only refers to European immigrants who could provide for themselves, in response to a potential policy change limiting legal immigration in America. Lazarus’s biographer said the poet wanted to encourage Americans to embrace the poor and destitute of all places.


08/18/2019 6:01 PMupdated: 08/19/2019 1:07 PM
  • 29.7k
  • 152


  • Justin R.
    08/31/2019 22:52

    Everyone was expected to be a productive cityzen in those days.

  • Bonnie M.
    08/31/2019 01:48

    How can one be dependent on welfare and call themselves free?

  • John H.
    08/30/2019 02:37

    Problem is the Democratic party isn't looking for people after freedom and liberty. They are after pets that vote. We will feed you and take care of you, and all you have to do is wag your tail and lick your masters hand.

  • Dave S.
    08/30/2019 01:38

    I think that on a trial basis (from now, until 1 Nov 2020) we SHOULD try what Trumpsters want, and deport all those who can't pass tests in English and US civics and history. This would mean that approximately half of Trump's base would be gone by the next election. (Yeah, sure, I think they should be let back. ... AFTER they can pass the tests. :) e.g., Question 1: "A gov't of, by and for the people must maintain checks & balances against aristocratic concentrations of power", describes what? A. The founding principle of America. B. Socialism. )

  • Patrick O.
    08/29/2019 17:48

    She is an idiot. Then let them build their own America in their own country.

  • Richard S.
    08/29/2019 03:12

    Democrats for Illegals

  • Cindy J.
    08/28/2019 22:03

    I agree but come here the right way.

  • Carl W.
    08/28/2019 21:06

    That freedom for everybody is the biggest lie ever told among the many lies in Amerikkka!

  • Marshall P.
    08/28/2019 16:41

    Hey Oprah, how much are you willing to pay for these illegals who came here without due process, and how about the ones who rape and murder our good citizens, y'all are so blinded by stupidity that you all you care about is spreading hatred and racism.....sickening

  • Daniel S.
    08/27/2019 12:57

    Back when people came Legally

  • Randy C.
    08/27/2019 12:04

    For everybody that comes in LEGALLY

  • Mark C.
    08/27/2019 11:47

    If you don't follow the Constitution. Or law. But a poem.?

  • James L.
    08/26/2019 22:11

    The dream was for freedom, not free stuff!

  • Daniel M.
    08/26/2019 01:56

    It makes me happy to see in the comments some people know the truth about this and its history not the lies these people are trying to spread

  • Pam C.
    08/25/2019 21:15

    All that is required for tyranny to take hold is the silence of decent people😪

  • Car T.
    08/25/2019 01:57

    People who were actually oppressed not people who want to come here and tear us down. That is what lady liberty stands for.

  • Patti H.
    08/25/2019 01:44

    As usual, O , tries to mislead us again!! She is such a hypocrite! Read the whole poem, not just the part to further your agenda! Plus, do your homework. Not everyone that came here were allowed to stay.

  • Dean J.
    08/24/2019 22:04

    Legal imagration!! That's all we law abiding citizens ask for. No one gave my emigrant ancestors a free hand out. They came here in 1732 for the chance to better them selves. They didn't get EBT. They didn't get govt asstants. They became an American citizen. They didn't want to make America like the trash they escaped from, they wanted to make America great. They used their blood, sweat and Brains to and Advance their careers, not bring it down. Shame on you ,for trying to make America the bad guy. All of you who, should leave and move to Mexico or maybe iran.

  • Shirley M.
    08/24/2019 20:09

    Yes it is freedom for everybody, but you need to apply for citizenship, learn English and be proud to be an American

  • Michael W.
    08/24/2019 13:54

    They also worked, learned citizenship, learned English, and helped build this country and obeyed the laws. No welfare or handouts.