On this date in 1884, the cornerstone was laid for the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. (We got the statue for free — the pedestal we had to pay for.)
One of the most historic fundraisers was the Pedestal Art Loan Exhibition, to which Walt Whitman, Mark Twain and others donated manuscripts for auction.
Emma Lazarus donated a poem called “The New Colossus,” which sold for $1,500, but was mostly forgotten until 1945, when it was inscribed over the main entrance at the base of the statue.
It’s quite good . . .
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame,
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” 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, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”