JAMES MADISON CONCERNING IMMIGRATION AND IMMIGRANTS TO USA

James Madison Quote Concerning Immigration & Immigrants

James Madison Concerning Immigration & Immigrants (Click to enlarge)

The criminal influence of the alien with its steady increase can be traced back in our history for the last 60-100 years. So surely and yet so gradually has it grown upon us that we have now become thoroughly accustomed to a condition of things which would have been extremely shocking to our ancestors. The belief and confidence in the cheap labor of the immigrant has been very strong among certain segments (i.e. GOP, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Wealthy Democrats, the Mainstream Media, et. al.) of our society, against the better judgement of the voting public at large. American citizens have been blinded by those afore mentioned segments of the country or they would never have been willing to go on with the system in the face of the shocking revelations of crime and corruption which has become more and more apparent.

Washington, in writing on the subject of immigration, said:

“My opinion with respect to emigration is that, except of useful mechanics and some particular descriptions of men or professions, there is no need of encouragement; while the policy or advantage of its taking place in a hody (I mean the settling of them in a hody) may be much questioned.”

On another occasion he wrote:

“It is not the policy of this country to employ aliens where it can well be avoided, either in the civil or military walks of life.”

Jefferson, though belonging to the party opposed to Washington, had very much the same opinion:

“They will bring with them the principles of the government they leave, imbibed in their early youth, or, if able to throw them off, it will be in exchange for an unbounded licentiousness, passing, as is usual, from one extreme to another. It would be a miracle were they to stop precisely at the point of temperate liberty. These principles, with their language, they will transmit to their children. In proportion to their numbers they will share with us the legislation. They will infuse into it their spirit, warp and bias its direction, and render it a heterogeneous, incoherent, distracted mass. I may appeal to experience during the present contest for a verification of these conjectures. But if they be not certain in event are they not possible, are they not probable? Is it not safer to wait with patience twenty-seven years and three months longer for the attainment of any degree of population desired or expected? May not our Government be more homogeneous, more peaceable, more durable? Suppose twenty millions of republican Americans thrown all of a sudden into France, what would be the condition of that kingdom? If it would be more turbulent, less happy, less strong, we may believe that the addition of half a million of foreigners to our present numbers would produce a similar effect here. If they come of themselves they are entitled to all the rights of citizenship, but I doubt the expediency of inviting them by extraordinary encouragements. I mean not that these doubts should be extended to the importation of useful artificers. The policy of that measure depends on very different considerations.”

The prophesy in the above passage has most certainly come true; and the last two sentences are also worth considering. “I mean not,” he says, “that these doubts should be extended to the importation of useful artificers. The policy of that measure depends on very different considerations.” This will at once be recognized as agreeing exactly with Washington’s words where he says, “that except of useful mechanics and some particular descriptions of men or professions there is no need of encouragement.” Washington, though strongly opposed to the admission of foreign officers in the army, had made exceptions in the case of certain artillerists and engineers, who he said were needed to teach us some of the fine points of gunnery and construction, and in his objection to immigration in general he made exceptions in favor of certain kinds of skilled labor.

The fathers of the Republic were entirely opposed to promiscuous, wholesale immigration, and they undoubtedly represented the opinions of a large number of our people at that time. Even Madison, who favored immigration more than any of the other fathers of the Republic, and who introduced in Congress the first bill intended to encourage it, always insisted that he intended to bring over only the “worthy part of mankind,” and in a letter written in 1813 he expresses almost the same opinion as Adams, Washington and Jefferson. Neither Madison nor any of the others had any conception of modern immigration. and apparently never realized that their moderate and, as they supposed, well-regulated encouragement would bring it about.

JAMES MADISON TO MORRIS BIRKBECK; 1813

Sir,—I have received your letter of September 18, though at a much later day than that at which it was due. The letter inclosed in it from Mr. Coles would have been received with additional pleasure from your own hand, if you had found it convenient to take Montpelier in your Westwardly route. He was a few days ago with me, and confirmed verbally the esteem and the friendly interest he takes in your behalf.

I cannot but commend the benevolent solicitude you express for your emigrating countrymen; and I sincerely wish that all who are attached to our Country by its natural and political advantages might be as little disappointed or embarrassed on their arrival as possible. I am obliged, at the same time, to say, as you will doubtless learn from others, that it is not either the provision of our laws or the practice of the Government to give any encouragement to emigrants, unless it be in cases where they may bring with them some special addition to our stock of arts or articles of culture. You will perceive, therefore, that it is not in the power of the Executive to dispose of the public land in a mode different from the ordinary one; and I should not be justified in encouraging any reliance on the success of a resort to the National Legislature.

Should your future movements bring you at any time within reach of my residence, I shall be happy in an opportunity of proving, by a cordial welcome, the sincerity of my respect and good wishes.

Sources: Writing of James Madison 1794-1815 By James Madison
Public Opinion, Volume 21

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