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I think he ought to pass some time in a state of probation, and at the end of the term be able to bring testimonials of a proper and decent behavior; no man who would be a credit to the community could think such terms difficult or indelicate; if bad men should be dissatisfied on this account, and should decline to immigrate, the regulation will have a beneficial effect; for we had better keep such out of the country than admit them into it. I conceive, sir, that an amendment of this kind would be reasonable and proper ; all the difficulty will be to determine how a proper certificate of good behavior should be obtained. I think it might be done by vesting the power in the Grand Jury or District courts to determine on the character of the man, as they should find it.”
Theodore Sedgwick, of Massachusetts, said :
“ He was against the indiscriminate admission of foreigners to the highest rights of human nature, upon terms so incompetent to secure the society from being overrun with the outcasts of Europe; besides, the policy of settling the vacant territory by immigration is of a doubtful nature. He believed in the United States the human species might be multiplied by a more eligible and convenient mode, than what seemed to be contemplated by the motion now before the committee. He was well satisfied for himself, that there existed no absolute necessity of peopling it in this way; and if there was no absolute necessity, he thought Congress might use their discretion, and admit none but reputable and worthy citizens—such only were fit for the society into which they were blended. The citizens of America preferred this country because it is to be preferred; the like principle he wished might be held by every man who came from Europe to reside here; but there were at least some grounds to fear to the contrary; their sensations impregnated with prejudices of education acquired under monarchical and aristocratical governments, may deprive them of that wish for pure republicanism, which is necessary in order to teste its beneficence with that magnitude which we feel on the occasion. Some kind of probation, as it has been termed, is absolutely requisite, to enable them to feel and be sensible of the blessing. Without that probation, he should be sorry to see them exercise a right which we have gloriously struggled to attain."
Michael J. Stone, of Maryland, expressed his views as follows:
“ I would let the term of residence be long enough to accomplish two objects, before I would consent to admit a foreigner to have any thing to do with the politics of this country. First, that he should have an opportunity of knowing the circumstances of our government, and, in consequence thereof, shall have admitted the truth of the principles we hold. Second, that he should have acquired a taste for this government, and in order that both things may take place, in such a way as to make him worthy of admission into our society, I think a term of four or seven years ought to be required. A foreigner, who comes here, is not desirous of interfering immediately with our politics; nor is it proper that he should. His immigration is governed by a different principle; he is desirous of obtaining and holding property. I should have no objection to his doing this from the first moment he sets his foot on shore in America ; but it appears to me that we ought to be cautious how we admit foreigners to the other privileges of citizenship, and that for a reason not yet mentioned ; perhaps it may allude to the next generation more than to this, the present inhabitants were most of them here when engaged in a long and hazardous war. They have been active in rearing up the present government, and feel perhaps a laudable vanity in having effected what its most sanguine friends hardly dared to contemplate. There is a danger of these people losing
NATURALIZATION LAW OF 1795.
The consideration of the bill enacted into a law in 1795 again elicited a warm discussion in the House of Representatives, as will be seen by reference to the published Annals of Congress of 1793-95, page 1004 to 1133. Samuel Dexter, Jr., of Massachusetts, led off in the debate, "expressing his disapprobation of the facility by which, under the existing law, aliens may acquire citizenship," and moved that the term of two years' residence be striken out and a blank left, “to be filled up after more mature consideration,” which was agreed to. He also proposed an amendment in reference to the mercantile foreigners who might wish to acquire citizenship.
John Page, of Virginia, though coinciding with the views of Mr. Madison, in regard to the naturalization of foreign citizens, expressed himself as follows:
“ He approved the design of the mover, because he thought nothing more desirable than to see good order, public virtue, and true morality, constituting the character of citizens of the United States; for without morality, and indeed a general sense of religion, a Republican Government cannot flourish, nay, cannot long exist; since without these, disorders will arise which the strong arm of powerful Government can alone cor. rect or retrieve.”
Mr. Dexter subsequently moved another amendment, that "no alien should be admitted to the rights of citizenship, but on the oath of two credible witnesses, that in their opinion he was of good moral character and attached to the welfare of this country.” This motion was seconded by Theodore Sedgwick, of Massachusetts, who spoke as follows:
“ America,” he said, “if her political institutions should on experience be found to be wisely adjusted, and she shall improve her natural advantages, had opened to her view a more rich and glorious prospect than ever was presented to man. She has chosen for herself a government which left to the citizen as great a portion of freedom as was consistent with a social compact. All believed the preservation of this government, in its purity, indispensable to the continuance of our happiness. The foundation on which it rested was general intelligence and public virtue; in other words, wisdom to discern, and patriotism to pursue the general good. He had pride, and he gloried in it, in believing his countrymen more wise and virtuous than any other people on earth; hence he believed them better qualified to administer and to support a Republican Government. This character of Americans was the result of early education, aided indeed by the discipline of the Revolution.