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Emma Lazarus was born to a Jewish family in New York City whose ancestors had emigrated from Portugal in early colonial times. She's best remembered as the author of the 1883 poem, "The New Colossus," which was inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor. The poem's famous opening line, "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. . . " continues to influence the way we think about immigration today. One of the first successful Jewish-American authors, Emma Lazarus was part of the late 19th-century New York literary elite. In her later years, she wrote bold, powerful poetry and essays protesting the rise of anti-Semitism. She called for the creation of a Jewish homeland before the term Zionism even had been coined. She also wrote a novel and two plays.
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