Originally published in the year 1883, Emma Lazarus’ poem The New Colossus portrayed the United States as a beacon of hope and safety for individuals who found themselves at a disadvantage throughout the world. Lazarus wrote this poem in an effort to raise money for the construction of a pedestal at the base of the Statue of Liberty, which eventually came to symbolize the welcoming of immigrants to the United States in an idealistic fashion. Coincidentally, the Statue of Liberty, a gift from France, did not act as a symbol for immigrants until after The New Colossus was inscribed on the base of the statue in the early 1900s. Unfortunately, Emma Lazarus’ poem did not represent the version of the United States that existed between the 1890s and the 1920s. During these years, the United State was a safe haven for few, if any, non-native and/or non-white groups. Practically any societal faction that did not fall into the collective category of white, upper-class, American-born men faced varying degrees of prejudice and discrimination. Perhaps the most targeted and attacked non-native groups of this time included both Chinese and Western European immigrants. While the suffering of individuals cannot be quantized or compared, the cumulative experiences of European and Chinese societal sects demonstrated the various ways in which The New Colossus inaccurately represented the United States during the 1890s to the 1920s.
Throughout the period of the 1890s until the 1920s, numerous