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2007 June 19 Tuesday
Early Americans Discouraged Undesirable Immigrants

Razib at Gene Expression quotes from the history book Albion's Seed by David Hackett Fisher about immigration control in early American colonies.

...The founders of Massachusetts, unlike rulers of other European colonies, deliberately excluded an aristocracy from their ranking system.

At the same time, the leaders of Massachussets also made a concerted and highly successful effort to discourage immigration from the bottom of English society. They prohibited entry of convincted felons (many of whom ahd been punished for crimes of poverty) and place heavy impediments on the path of the migrant poor. A series of poor laws were enacted in Massachusetts, which rules of settlement and "warning out" that were even more strict than in England.

The pro-Open Borders crowd wants us to believe that we are a nation of immigrants and that therefore immigration is an unalloyed blessing. Mark Krikorian has pointed out at The Corner that the phrase "nation of immigrants" was created relatively recently in order to attack an earlier conception of America and American culture.

JPod: Sure, many phrases are no longer connected to their origins. Few people saying "writing on the wall" are even aware that it's a reference to the Book of Daniel, let alone trying to make a point about the king of Babylon.

But "nation of immigrants" is not that kind of phrase. It has an ideological purpose, to downgrade and delegitimize America before the beginning of mass immigration in 1848, or maybe even before 1880. It is, in a sense, the unofficial motto of multiculturalism. America is much more a "nation of settlers" and a "nation of slaves" that it is a nation of immigrants. As important as some immigrant groups have been in shaping the ongoing development of American culture (especially Germans, Italians, and Jews), the template was established by English and Scottish settlers, as well as by the reinterpretation of Anglo-Celtic culture by the African slaves. Immigrants may be the frosting but the cake was baked long before they arrived.

Settlers who bring their own culture and legal system with them to live in their own self-organized societies do not play the same role as immigrants who move to live in an already organized much larger society. The advocates of mass immigration today seek to break the template for American society created by the original settlers. They've certainly greatly weakened that template. I say they've done enough damage and it is time to stop immigration for a few generations.

By Randall Parker    2007 June 19 09:51 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (7)
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