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Teddy Roosevelt on Immigration

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posted on Apr, 3 2010 @ 11:15 AM
Many assume that the United States is a "nation of immigrants".

While romantic, I suppose, for those that entered America via Ellis Island, it is not true. America was a nation of British colonists and a few immigrants from highly compatible lands and peoples. Nation, after all, is a word to describe a people with a common ancestry, a common religion, a common law, a common past and a common future. It literally means, "those who were born here".

Further, unlimited immigration is often assumed a basic tenant of the Progressive faith. It is not. Here read US president Teddy Roosevelt's own words on immigration and what it is to America to accept aliens and outsiders:

Part I

IMMIGRANTS—AID TO. If we leave the immigrant
to be helped by representatives of foreign governments,
by foreign societies, by a press and institutions
conducted in a foreign language and in the interest of
foreign governments, and if we permit the immigrants
to exist as alien groups, each group sundered from the
rest of the citizens of the country, we shall store up for
ourselves bitter trouble in the future. (Before Knights of
Columbus, New York City, October 12, 1915.) Mem.
Ed. XX, 465; Nat. Ed. XVIII, 399.

immigrants, or the sons of immigrants, do not heartily
and in good faith throw in their lot with us, but cling to
the speech, the customs, the ways of life, and the habits
of thought of the Old World which they have left, they
thereby harm both themselves and us. If they remain
alien elements, unassimilated, and with interests
separate from ours, they are mere obstructions to the
current of our national life, and, moreover, can get no
good from it themselves. In fact, though we ourselves
also suffer from their perversity, it is they who really
suffer most. It is an immense benefit to the European
immigrant to change him into an American citizen. To
bear the name of American is to bear the most
honorable of titles; and whoever does not so believe has
no business to bear the name at all, and, if he comes
from Europe, the sooner he goes back there the better.
Besides, the man who does not become Americanized
nevertheless fails to remain a European, and becomes
nothing at all. The immigrant cannot possibly remain
what he was, or continue to be a member of the Old
World society. If he tries to retain his old language, in a
few generations it becomes a barbarous jargon; if he
tries to retain his old customs and ways of life, in a few
generations he becomes an uncouth boor. He has cut
himself off from the Old World, and cannot retain his
connection with it; and if he wishes ever to amount to
anything he must throw himself heart and soul, and
without reservation, into the new life to which he has
come. (Forum, April 1894.) Mem. Ed. XV, 26; Nat. Ed.
XIII, 22.

____________. We should insist that if the immigrant
who comes here does in good faith become an
American and assimilates himself to us he shall be
treated on an exact equality with every one else, for it is
an outrage to discriminate against any such man
because of creed or birth-place or origin.
But this is predicated upon the man's becoming in
very fact an American and nothing but an American. If
he tries to keep segregated with men of his own origin
and separated from the rest of America, then he isn't
doing his part as an American. There can be no divided
allegiance here. . . We have room for but one language
here, and that is the English language, for we intend to
see that the crucible turns our people out as Americans,
of American nationality, and not as dwellers in a
polyglot boarding-house; and we have room for but one
soul loyalty, and that is loyalty to the American people.
(To President of the American Defense Society,
January 3, 1919; last message, read at meeting in New
York, January 5, 1919.) Mem. Ed. XXIV, 554; Bishop

Any discrimination against aliens is a wrong, for it
tends to put the immigrant at a disadvantage and to
cause him to feel bitterness and resentment during the
very years when he should be preparing himself for
American citizenship. If an immigrant is not fit to
become a citizen, he should not be allowed to come
here. If he is fit, he should be given all the rights to earn
his own livelihood, and to better himself, that any man
can have. (Before Knights of Columbus, New York
City, October 12, 1915.) Mem. Ed. XX, 464; Nat. Ed.
XVIII, 398.

provide for every immigrant, by day-schools for the
young and night-schools for the adult, the chance to
learn English; and if after, say, five years he has not
learned English, he should be sent back to the land from
whence he came. . . . We should demand full
performance of duty from them. Every man of them
should be required to serve a year with the colors, like
our native-born youth, before being allowed to vote.
Nothing would do more to make him feel an American
among his fellow Americans, on an equality of rights,
of duties, and of loyalty to the flag. (New York Times,
September 10, 1917.) Mem. Ed. XXI, 54; Nat. Ed. XIX,

other blood must remember that the man who in good
faith and without reservations gives up another country
for this must in return receive exactly the same rights,
not merely legal, but social and spiritual, that other
Americans proudly possess. We of the United States
belong to a new and separate nationality. We are all
Americans and nothing else, and each, without regard
to his birthplace, creed, or national origin, is entitled to
exactly the same rights as all other Americans. (July 15,
1918.) Roosevelt in the Kansas City Star, 180.

posted on Apr, 3 2010 @ 11:17 AM

any condition should this Nation look at an immigrant
as primarily a labor unit. He should always be looked at
primarily as a future citizen and the father of other
citizens who are to live in this land as fellows with our
children and our children's children. Our immigration
laws, permanent or temporary, should always be
constructed with this fact in view. (December 1, 1917.)
Roosevelt in the Kansas City Star, 58.
____________. The immigrant must not be allowed to
drift or to be put at the mercy of the exploiter. Our
object is not to imitate one of the older racial types, but
to maintain a new American type and then to secure
loyalty to this type. We cannot secure such loyalty
unless we make this a country where men shall feel that
they have justice and also where they shall feel that
they are required to perform the duties imposed upon
them. . . .

We cannot afford to continue to use hundreds of
thousands of immigrants merely as industrial assets
while they remain social outcasts and menaces any
more than fifty years ago we could afford to keep the
black man merely as an industrial asset and not as a
human being. We cannot afford to build a big industrial
plant and herd men and women about it without care for
their welfare. We cannot afford to permit squalid
overcrowding or the kind of living system which makes
impossible the decencies and necessities of life. We
cannot afford the low wage rates and the merely
seasonal industries which mean the sacrifice of both
individual and family life and morals to the industrial
machinery. (Before Knights of Columbus, New York
City, October 12, 1915.) Mem. Ed. XX, 468; Nat. Ed.
XVIII, 402.


IMMIGRATION. We cannot have too much
immigration of the right sort and we should have
none whatever of the wrong sort. Of course, it is
desirable that even the right kind of immigration should
be properly distributed in this country. We need more
of such immigration for the South; and special effort
should be made to secure it. Perhaps it would be
possible to limit the number of immigrants allowed to
come in any one year to New York and other Northern
cities, while leaving unlimited the number allowed to
come to the South; always provided, however, that a
stricter effort is made to see that only immigrants of the
right kind come to our country anywhere. (Fifth Annual
Message, Washington, December 5, 1905.) Mem. Ed.
XVII, 372-373; Nat. Ed. XV, 318.

urgently necessary to check and regulate our
immigration, by much more drastic laws than now
exist; and this should be done both to keep out laborers
who tend to depress the labor market, and to keep out
races which do not assimilate readily with our own, and
unworthy individuals of all races, (Forum, April 1894.)
Mem. Ed. XV, 27; Nat. Ed. XIII, 23.

Congress would revise our laws about immigration.
Paupers and assisted immigrants of all kinds should be,
kept out; so should every variety of Anarchists. And if
Anarchists do come, they should be taught, as speedily
as possible, that the first effort to put their principles
into practice will result in their being shot down . . . .
We must soon try to prevent too many laborers coming
here and underselling our own workmen in the labor
market; a good round head tax on each immigrant,
together with a rigid examination into his character,
would work well. (Before Federal Club, New York
City, December 13, 1888.). Mem. Ed. XVI, 137-138;
Nat. Ed. XIV, 85.

____________. Many working men look with distrust
upon laws which really would help them; laws for the
intelligent restriction of immigration, for instance. I
have no sympathy with mere dislike of immigrants;
there are classes and even nationalities of them which
stand at least on an equality with the citizens of native
birth, as the last election showed. But in the interest of
our working men we must in the end keep out laborers
who are ignorant, vicious, and with low standards of
life and comfort, just as we have shut out the Chinese.
(Review of Reviews, January 1897.) Mem. Ed. XVI,
380; Nat. Ed. XIII. 164.

____________. The prime need is to keep out all
immigrants who will not make good American citizens.
The laws now existing for the exclusion of undesirable
immigrants should be strengthened. Adequate means
should be adopted, enforced by sufficient penalties, to
compel steamship companies engaged in the passenger
business to observe in good faith the law which forbids
them to encourage or solicit immigration to the United
States, Moreover, there should be a sharp limitation
imposed upon all vessels coming to our ports as to the
number of immigrants in ratio to the tonnage which
each vessel can carry. This ratio should be high enough
to insure the coming hither of as good a class of aliens
as possible. (Fifth Annual Message, Washington,
December 5, 1905.) Mem. Ed. XVII, 373; Nat. Ed. XV,

ORIENTAL. There has always been a strong feeling in
California against the immigration of Asiatic laborers,
whether these are wage-workers or men who occupy
and till the soil. I believe this to be fundamentally a
sound and proper attitude, an attitude which must be
insisted upon, and yet which can be insisted upon in
such a manner and with such courtesy and such sense of
mutual fairness and reciprocal obligation and respect as
not to give any just cause of offense to Asiatic peoples.
(1913.) Mem. Ed. XXII, 429; Nat. Ed. XX, 368

[edit on 3-4-2010 by joeofthemountain]

posted on Apr, 3 2010 @ 11:17 AM

IMMIGRATION POLICY. Our present immigration
laws are unsatisfactory. We need every honest and
efficient immigrant fitted to become an American
citizen, every immigrant who comes here to stay, who
brings here a strong body, a stout heart, a good head,
and a resolute purpose to do his duty well in every way
and to bring up his children as law-abiding and God-
fearing members of the community. But there should be
a comprehensive law enacted with the object of
working a threefold improvement over our present
system. First, we should aim to exclude absolutely not
only all persons who are known to be believers in
anarchistic principles or members of anarchistic
societies, but also all persons who are of a low moral
tendency or of unsavory reputation . . . .

The second object of a proper immigration law
ought to be to secure by a careful and not merely
perfunctory educational test some intelligent capacity to
appreciate American institutions and act sanely as
American citizens. This would not keep out all
anarchists, for many of them belong to the intelligent
criminal class. But it would do what is also in point,
that is, tend to decrease the sum of ignorance, so potent
in producing the envy, suspicion, malignant passion,
and hatred of order, out of which anarchistic
sentiment inevitably springs. Finally, all persons should
be excluded who are below a certain standard of
economic fitness to enter our industrial field as
competitors with American labor. There should be
proper proof of personal capacity to earn an American
living and enough money to insure a decent start under
American conditions. This would stop the influx of
cheap labor, and the resulting competition which gives
rise to so much of bitterness in American industrial life.
(First Annual Message, Washington, December 3,
1901.) Mem. Ed. XVII, 110-111; Nat. Ed. XV, 95-96.

[edit on 3-4-2010 by joeofthemountain]

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