Ellis Island: The Dark Side of Life as an Early American Immigrant

From the late 1800’s to the mid 1950’s, Ellis Island in New York Bay was the entrance to a new life for many immigrants. These people left their respective homelands for a variety of reasons: from famine and religious persecution, to war and rumors about cities of solid gold. But common to all was the drive to start over, the drive to be whoever they wanted to be in the “Golden Land.” Said an inspired immigrant of the words of Mother America:
…cries she With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, the tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door! [sic]” (Lazarus 10)
For many of these lucky Americans, the Statue’s torch of “world-wide welcome” (Lazarus 7) burned brightly. But for countless others, that lamp was quite dim indeed. Some were sent back to their countries, blatantly denied the right to a better life. Many more faced indescribable challenges in the new environment, struggling in the throes of poverty. Although over 12 million people came to El…



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