Learn American History through 50 pop songs

Here to Amerika

Synopsis

The greatest wave of immigrants to the U.S. occurred between 1840 and the 1920. During this period approximately 37 million immigrants arrived, mostly of German, Irish, Italian, English, Scottish, Austro-Hungarian, Scandinavian, Russian, Baltic, and Jewish descent. Many of these immigrants arrived in New York Harbor and passed the Statue of Liberty.

Lyrics

© Copyright 2010 by Mr. and Mrs. Gillenwater

The New Colossus
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!”

by Emma Lazarus, New York City, 1883

As immigrants old and new came to Red, White, and Blue…

I remember when we came and I remember why
I remember moonlight twinkling upon the wintry Russian countryside
We hid among the frozen branches, we stole along the icy riverbed
From lethal state sponsored pogroms, my Jewish family and I fled

Here to America, where everyone is free, where gold coins pave the streets
Here in America, no soldiers at our doors, we couldn’t ask for more
Here in America, we couldn’t ask for more, we couldn’t ask for more

I remember when we came and I remember why
I remember potatoes rotting up and down the rolling Irish countryside
We tried boiling bark and leaves, we had no meat or grain for bread
From this vast and deadly famine, my Irish family and I fled

Here to America, where everybody eats, where gold coins pave the streets
Here in America, milk and honey pours, we couldn’t ask for more
Here in America, we couldn’t ask for more, we couldn’t ask for more

I remember when we came and I remember why
I remember locusts settling upon the crops of the Chinese countryside
We tried to sell the paltry harvest, we watched our children go unfed
From poverty and starvation, my Chinese family and I fled

Here to America, where jobs fall at your feet, where gold coins pave the streets
Here in America, we own property and stores, we couldn’t ask for more
Here in America, we couldn’t ask for more, we couldn’t ask for more

Yeah in America where everyone is free, where gold coins pave the streets
No soldiers at our doors, we couldn’t ask for more,
Where everybody eats, where gold coins pave the streets
Milk and honey pours, we can dare to ask for more
Where jobs fall at your feet, where gold coins pave the street

They came for different reasons, season after season,
Through Ellis Isle and Angel
They filled tenements and ghettos, city slums burst at their seams
As immigrants sought the American Dream (3x)

Vocabulary

The New Colossus— The New Colossus is a sonnet by Emma Lazarus (1849-1887), written in 1883 and, in 1903, engraved on a bronze plaque and mounted inside the Statue of Liberty.

Immigrants— People who move to another country legally.

Tiered Questions

Tier 1 Questions

Name three immigrants groups who came to America and one reason that each came.

Tier 2 Questions

Compare and contrast the reasons the immigrant groups in this song emigrated to America.

Tier 3 Questions

Put yourself in one of the three stories described in this song. Write six journal entries: two when you are still in your homeland, two while on the journey over, and two once you arrived in America.

Test Prep Questions

1) Between 1880 and 1900, most immigrants coming to the United States settled in the cities along the east coast because

  • (1) many factory jobs were available in the East
  • (2) little farmland remained to be settled in the Midwest
  • (3) most immigrants came from the cities of Europe
  • (4) city laws afforded special rights and protections for immigrants

2) Between 1890 and 1915, the majority of immigrants to the United States were labeled “new immigrants” because they were

  • (1) considered physically and mentally superior to earlier immigrants
  • (2) forced to settle in the cities of the Midwest
  • (3) from China, Japan, and other Asian countries
  • (4) culturally different from most earlier immigrant