33 Questions About American History You're Not Supposed to Ask [Secure]
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by Thomas E. Woods, Jr.
Description: Guess what? The Indians didn't save the Pilgrims from starvation by teaching them to grow corn. Thomas Jefferson thought states' rights--an idea reviled today--were even more important than the Constitution's checks and balances. The "Wild" West was more peaceful and a lot safer than most modern cities. And the biggest scandal of the Clinton years didn't involve an intern in a blue dress. Surprised? Don't be. In America, where history is riddled with misrepresentations, misunderstandings, and flat-out lies about the people and events that have shaped the nation, there's the history you know and then there's the truth. In 33 Questions About American History You're Not Supposed to Ask, Thomas E. Woods Jr., the New York Times bestselling author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History, sets the record straight with a provocative look at the hidden truths about our nation's history--the ones that have been buried because they're too politically incorrect to discuss. Woods draws on real scholarship--as opposed to the myths, platitudes, and slogans so many other "history" books are based on--to ask and answer tough questions about American history, including: Did the Founding Fathers support immigration? Was the Civil War all about slavery? Did the Framers really look to the American Indians as the model for the U.S. political system?--Was the U.S. Constitution meant to be a "living, breathing" document--and does it grant the federal government wide latitude to operateas it pleases? Did Bill Clinton actually stop a genocide, as we're told? You'd never know it from the history that's been handed down to us, but the answer to all those questions is no. Woods's eye-opening exploration reveals how much has been whitewashed from the historical record, overlooked, and skewed beyond recognition. More informative than your last U.S. history class, 33 Questions About American History You're Not Supposed to Ask will have you wondering just how much about your nation's past you haven't been told.
eBook Publisher: Random House, Inc./Crown Forum,
Filament eBookStore Release Date: July 2007
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DID THE FOUNDING FATHERS SUPPORT IMMIGRATION?
Though polls consistently find that a majority of Americans believe immigration levels need to be reduced, many people still assume that the right of immigration is a hallowed American principle that no loyal citizen can consistently oppose.
This assumption is false.
Actually, the Founding Fathers were generally wary of immigration. They did not wish to exclude it altogether, but they saw no particular need to encourage it, especially among migrants whose cultural backgrounds were significantly different from their own.
Consider Benjamin Franklin, that well-known cosmopolite and child of the Enlightenment. Franklin, it turns out, said quite a few politically incorrect things about non-British humanity (a category that includes the present writer). On one occasion he asked, "Why should Pennsylvania, founded by the English, become a colony of aliens, who will shortly be so numerous as to Germanize us, instead of our Anglifying them, and will never adopt our language or customs any more than they can acquire our complexion?" Thus immigrants of sufficient number and concentration could radically change the cultural landscape in ways that the native population might not want.
We can already hear the modern liberal laughing at Franklin, pointing triumphantly to German assimilation in America as proof that the Pennsylvanian's concerns were without merit. But the point here is simply this: if unrestricted immigration had really been a traditional American principle, someone must have forgotten to tell Benjamin Franklin. And he was speaking of people who, as fellow heirs and architects of Western civilization, shared a great deal in common with the original settlers of British America. One can only imagine what Franklin would have had to say about current immigration policy.
JEFFERSON AND HAMILTON ON IMMIGRATION
Franklin was not alone. Thomas Jefferson's warning about mass immigration in his Notes on Virginia would doubtless come as a surprise to most Americans, since most American history textbooks for some reason choose not to highlight it. Jefferson asked suggestively, "Are there no inconveniences to be thrown into the scale against the advantage expected by a multiplication of numbers by the importation of foreigners?"
"It is for the happiness of those united in society," the sage of Monticello went on to explain, "to harmonize as much as possible, in matters which they must of necessity transact together. Civil government being the sole object of forming societies, its administration must be conducted by common consent." Our government was "a composition of the freest principles of the English Constitution, with others, derived from natural right and reason." Nothing could be more opposed to the principles of our government than those of absolute monarchies, said Jefferson. But it was from such regimes that we could expect the most immigrants.
Such immigrants, Jefferson feared, would "bring with them the principles of the governments 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." A large influx of immigrants from places without any experience with our kind of government and society could only introduce confusion and discord. "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."
Jefferson concluded that it was "safer" to wait patiently for the natural increase of the American population rather than achieve such increase by mass immigration, and that our government would, as a result, be more peaceable and more durable. He left readers with a useful thought experiment: "Suppose 20 millions of republican Americans [were] 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."
Jefferson was joined in his wariness by Alexander Hamilton, the nation's first secretary of the treasury. In his draft of a speech for George Washington, Hamilton wrote: "To render the people of this country as homogenous as possible, must tend as much as any other circumstance to the permanence of their union and posterity."
Several years later, when Jefferson called for liberalizing the naturalization laws in his December 1801 message to Congress, Hamilton recalled Jefferson's earlier sentiments from Notes on Virginia. (This change of heart appears to have been of partisan origin: Jefferson himself, along with several of his prominent opponents, believed that the foreign vote had won him the election of 1800.) He agreed with Jefferson that it was praiseworthy for the United States to permit the entry of those experiencing genuine hardship and seeking asylum, though even here Hamilton would have reminded his fellow citizens that generosity has its limits if the welfare of the country is to be protected. What he objected to was the suggestion that all such people were necessarily entitled to the privileges of citizenship. He concluded by pointing out that even granting for the sake of argument that American Indians had extended nothing but friendship as the colonists arrived on these shores, it was important to consider the fate of a people whose policy was so magnanimous. "Prudence requires us," Hamilton wrote, "to trace the history further and ask what has become of the nations of savages who exercised this policy, and who now occupies the territory which they then inhabited? Perhaps a lesson is here taught which ought not to be despised." (The American Indians, in short, had a severe immigration problem.)
The right of immigration is a hallowed American principle that has been recognized since the days of the Founding Fathers.
Hamilton described the safety of a republic as depending "essentially on the energy of a common national sentiment; on a uniformity of principles and habits; on the exemption of the citizens from foreign bias, and prejudice; and on that love of country which will almost invariably be found to be closely connected with birth, education, and family." He then drew out the implications of this point:
The influx of foreigners must, therefore, tend to produce a heterogeneous compound; to change and corrupt the national spirit; to complicate and confound public opinion; to introduce foreign propensities. In the composition of society, the harmony of the ingredients is all-important, and whatever tends to a discordant intermixture must have an injurious tendency.
For Hamilton, immigration policy was a matter of prudence and good sense, not a moral imperative. He observed at the turn of the nineteenth century that "in the infancy of the country, with a boundless waste to people, it was politic to give a facility to naturalization; but our situation is now changed. It appears from the last census that we have increased about one third in ten years; after allowing for what we have gained from abroad, it will be quite apparent that the natural progress of our own population is sufficiently rapid for strength, security, and settlement."
THE RIGHT TO EXCLUDE
Still others echoed these sentiments. Writing to John Adams in 1794, George Washington contended that the United States had no real reason to encourage immigration. Washington said that "except of useful mechanics and some particular descriptions of men or professions, there is no need of encouragement [of immigration], while the policy or advantage of its taking place in a body (I mean the settling of them in a body) may be much questioned; for by so doing, they retain the Language, habits, and principles (good or bad) which they bring with them."
Copyright © 2007 by Thomas E. Woods Jr.