From a commentary on Jefferson’s Notes on Virginia:
The United States have already felt the evils of incorporating a large number of foreigners into their national mass by promoting in different classes different predilections in favor of particular foreign nations and antipathies against others it has served very much to divide the community and to distract our councils It has been often likely to compromit the interests of our own country in favor of another The permanent effect of such a policy will be that in times of great public danger there will be always a numerous body of men of whom there may be just grounds of distrust the suspicion alone will weaken the strength of the nation but their force may be actually employed in assisting an invader .
To admit foreigners indiscriminately to the rights of citizens the moment they put foot in our country as recommended in the message would be nothing less than to admit the Grecian horse into the citadel of our liberty and sovereignty.
This debate perennially recurs throughout American history. The only thing that’s really changed is that we’ve developed a boundless faith in the ability of education to eradicate all differences between races, religions, and political beliefs. This belief seems to be immune to the accumulation of evidence over centuries that it isn’t quite possible.
What’s also sometimes missed by some libertarian analyses of the history of immigration is that they create a false dichotomy between the international regime of border control that developed in Europe after World War I and the more liberal state of affairs which existed before. Besides technology, one of the major developments was that of mass immigration between newly popular nation-states, most of which were eager to create ethnic and religious uniformity within their borders.
Intellectuals then say that it would be wonderful to go back to the time when borders were more liberal — that is, to the time before the Reformation and the religious wars that followed it. The mostly free travel within Christendom didn’t also include complete freedom for everyone to swap their allegiances. There was some freedom of travel — entirely within the minorities which were not tied to a fief of some kind. Industrialization made it so that the masses were no longer tied to the land, which made mass migration something conceivable even during peacetime.
Owing to the doctrine of equality, it’s become far more difficult to make what would be a reasonable statement of policy in most times and places throughout history — to grant liberality in travel to certain classes of people with certain characteristics (such as brilliant scientists or merchants), and to restrict it more for other classes of people with other characteristics (such as masses of Islamic paupers or Latin-American Communists). This is also what the formal laws in most Western countries call for — but various parties tend to subvert the intentions of those laws with broad cultural support.
Keith Fix says
…except Hamilton was arguing for more immigration than Jefferson favored, not less.
“But there is a wide difference between closing the door altogether and throwing it entirely open; between a postponement of fourteen years, and an immediate admission to all the rights of citizenship. Some reasonable term ought to be allowed to enable aliens to get rid of foreign and acquire American attachments; to learn the principles and imbibe the spirit of our government; and to admit of a probability at least, of their feeling a real interest in our affairs. A residence of not less than five years ought to be required.”
At the time, fourteen years was the standard: Hamilton argued for less, and so boiled the lobster alive.
He also advocated “negotiations with France” which resulted in the Louisiana Purchase about a year later than these quotes, then publicly argued against the purchase in his New York Evening Post when the deal was done:
“[The purchase] of New Orleans has [concluded] favorably to this country. Instead of being obliged to rely any longer on the force of treaties for a place of deposit, the jurisdiction (authority) of the territory is now transferred to our hands and in future the navigation of the Mississippi will be ours unmolested (without conflict). This, it will be allowed, is an important acquisition…as territory, but as being essential to the peace and prosperity of our Western country, and as opening a free and valuable market to our commercial states. This purchase has been made during the period of Mr. Jefferson’s presidency and will, doubtless, [make] his administration [seem brilliant]. Every man, however, [who possesses candor (openness), intelligence] and reflection will readily acknowledge that the acquisition has been solely owing to [an incidental] concurrence of unexpected circumstances and not to any wise measures on the part of the American government….
“As to the unbounded region west of the Mississippi, it is, with the exception of a very few settlements of Spaniards and Frenchmen bordering on the banks of the river, a wilderness through which wander numerous tribes of Indians. And when we consider the present extent of the United States, and that not one sixteenth is yet under occupation, the advantage of the acquisition, as it relates to actual settlement, appears too distant and remote [to seem like it is worth much at all]. This, therefore, can only rest in speculation for many years, if not centuries to come, and consequently [will not perhaps be seen as so worthy of note for many people]. But it may be added that should our own citizens, more enterprising (innovative) than wise, become desirous of settling this country and emigrate there, [not only will the population be spread too thin], but by adding to the great weight of the western part of our territory, must hasten the [disintegration] of a large portion of our country or a dissolution (termination) of the Government. On the whole, we think it may with candor be said that, whether the possession at this time of any territory west of the river Mississippi will be advantageous (useful), is at best extremely problematic.”
Such deception that makes quoting Hamilton in any context a worthless effort.
Strangely, the opinion of historians seems to be that he favored the Louisiana Purchase against the opinion of fellow Federalists, but I’m of the opinion he sought to increase his wealth by means of increasing immigration into the new territory by way of New York (as eventually happened), thus shifting the shipping might of the nation from Boston toward his city, New York. The Louisiana Purchase was a convenience.
I suppose this is merely conjecture. It’s hard to know what Hamilton was plotting.
Should also be noted that Hamilton was considered an ‘alien’ himself, having been born on St. Kitts. Even while arguing for more immigration, he was a bit less crazy than contemporary advocates. My main motive in quoting him was to show that the boundaries of reasonable debate on this topic have long been wider than they are today.
Keith Fix says
“Even while arguing for more immigration, he was a bit less crazy than contemporary advocates.”
…by which I presume you mean he _acted_ like a modern Republican. 😉
SFC Ton says
Once again well done
I think it’s important for folks to know how far back these things go
Subvert with broad cultural support….perhaps narrow but deep.
But to add: with Broad Criminal support. Human Trafficking is as big as drugs now.
And of course the criminal organizations are tied to certain leftist political parties.