Retconning The Founding: No, The US Wasn't Founded By Or For "Huddled Masses"
Print Friendly and PDF

I’ve been joking for years about how Emma Lazarus has been transmogrified over the years into our one Uncancelable Founding Father:

The Zeroth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, as inscribed on the Statue of Liberty by Founding Father Emma Lazarus, is that everybody in the world has the right to immigrate to America and your so-called First Amendment doesn’t give you any right to object.

From the New York Times opinion page:

Immigrant Detention Should Have No Place in Our Society

April 14, 2024, 6:00 a.m. ET

By Ana Raquel Minian

Dr. Minian is a professor of history at Stanford who has written extensively about immigration to the United States.

… The United States was founded on the notion that it welcomes “huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” but it is also a nation of prisoners.

Granted, I’m not a Stanford professor of history, like Ana Raquel Minian, but even I know that the United States was not founded on the 1883 poem The New Colossus.

Interestingly, virtually no authors in the English-speaking world cared about the now-iconic “huddled masses yearning to breathe free” line until the later 1930s. From Google’s Ngram:


The entire Huddled Masses cult seems to be a product of Casablanca Era America.

[Comment at]

Print Friendly and PDF