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acquire the rights of citizenship—yet he could have no hesitation in giving nis countenance, simply as a proposition of inquiry, to the honorable Senator's resolution. It seemed to him (Mr. R.), from what they had all heard from the honorable Senator from Louisiana, (Mr. Johnson,) from what was known through the medium of the public press throughout the country, to every individual
that it was the bounden duty of Congress to afford the widest scope to the inquiry which was proposed, in regard to the nature and magnitude of the evils complained of, as well as a suitable and effectual remedy for the abuses which had been carried on to such a provoking extent under the operation of these naturalization laws. He did not himself entertain a doubt-and the universal voice of the people bore testimony to the fact, and Senators could not, if they would, turn a deaf ear to it—that these abuses existed to an alarming extent, and demanded the most earnest and searching inquiry. As his honorable friend from Louisiana had remarked, the vast number of immigrants which were now daily arriving upon our shores, under the inducements thrown out by our laws, and forming powerful elements in our social organization, and entering into the practical working of our institutions,--demanded the consideration of every American citizen, whether native or adopted.
He (Mr. R.) was not one of those who would wish to exclude that element any more now than heretofore. He would not subject it to any unreasonable restraints ; far less would be subject it to any discriminations; nor would he hesitate to give to every foreigner, when an American citizen by naturalization, and in fact, as well as in name, his fair and just share in the administration of the government, and in the direction and control of our common destinies ; but, at the same time, as his honorable friend (Mr. J.) had said, every consideration connected with the safety and purity, as well as the establishment of our own free institutions—all the impressive lessons of history--enjoined upon us the solemn duty of putting these vital branches of national economy under a system of wise and efficient regulation.
When we look back to that system as it stands upon the statute book-not its practical operation, but its fundamental principles—it seemed to him that, as a system, its foundations were laid in wisdom and prudence in regard to ourselves, as well as justice and liberality towards foreigners. What was that system? Its leading principle assumes that a continuous residence in this country for a period of five years, accompanied with a bona fide intention by evidence of a good moral character, orderly habits as a citizen, and decided attachment to the republican principles of our Constitution, and consummated, finally, by a solemn enjoinment of fidelity to the country and its institutions, is such evidence, in the language of the Constitution of his (Mr. R.'s) own State, of “ a permanent attachment to the common interest of the community, as authorizes the individual who presents such proof to be clothed with all the honorable attributes of an American citizen.” He pointed out these considerations because they were made by the law of naturalization in the Constitution under which he had the character of an American citizen, so to be carried out that the eye of all could see the fundamental guarantees required by law; and, according to the requisition of the statute book, they were to be ratified by a solemn court of record, If he understood the history of this subject, as long as a system of naturalization policy was administered in the spirit in which it was conceived by the founders of our free institutions, there was no complaint heard whatever of any evil practical effect growing out of it; but, in the course of time, from every important change in our legislation, as well as from a growing indifference-recklessness, he might say—in the public mind, in regard to the proper administration of this law, a looseness arose in its practical operation, which was the source of almost all the evils complained of by the Senator of Louisiana, and alluded to by his worthy colleague, (Mr. Archer.)
He would call the attention of those honorable senators and other gentlemen to a most vital and conservative provision in that law, which was passed during the first year of Mr. Jefferson's administration; and he asked the honorable senator from Louisiana [Mr. Johnson) to consider whether the revival of that provision would not go a great way towards avoiding those evils which he complained of. The Legislatures of that day, well knowing the facility with which American citizens were, upon emergencies, manufactured out of aliens freshly arrived upon our soil, without a pre-requisite of five years' residence, provided that every foreigner, after the date of that law, should, on his arrival, report himself to the court of record, to be registered there, with an account of his age, name, birth, the country from which he came, and all other things necessary for his personal identity; so as to prevent the probability of fraud. To show the conservative spirit in which our republican presidents had acted upon this subject, what did Mr. Madison do?-or rather, what was done during his administration ? Another most important and salutary provision against fraud was adopted, in the requisition that no certificate of naturalization should be legal or valid unless the registry, and the preliminary declaration of intention to become a citizen of the United States, were set forth at full length in the certificate of naturalization. Under this system of legislation, a person born in a foreign country, and claiming to be an American citizen, was bound, in exhibiting his certificate, to show the record made by him before the proper court, on his arrival in the United States.
These two simple provisions, both of which were executed under the administration of two of the best republican presidents who had ever presided over the destinies of this country, gave rise to no complaint, as long as they stood upon the statute book, in regard to the abuses like those which had arisen within a few years past. When did they arise ? When a fatal relaxation of that sound conservative policy commenced, called “the era of good feelings;" but, all must admit, an era not very favorable to that sort of protection, or liberty. In 1824, if he was not mistaken, the law which passed during Mr. Madison's time, requiring the record called for in the act originated by Mr. Jefferson, and also requiring the declarations and all the documents to be set forth, was repealed by an act of Congress passed in May. That was the first relaxation of the sound conservative policy under the two administrations to which he had referred. Another provision was made, at the same time, allowing the foreigner to go and make his declaration to the clerk of the court; and that certification was sufficient evidence of his determination to become an American citizen. The wise act of Washington and Jefferson required, a notice of three years; it was now brought down to two years. These relaxations were the sources of most of the evils complained of. But that was not all. This course of innovation, after the folly of the times, having been once entered upon, a few years after (in 1828, during the last year of the administration of John Quincy Adams), was continued by another radical innovation, repealing altogether both the provisions of Mr. Jefferson's and Mr. Madison's laws. In this growing laxity, did we not find the occasion of those evils which his honorable friends had so properly presented to the consideration of the Senate ? If so, did not sound wisdom require us to seek a remedy for these evils, by returning to the sound practical policy of the legislation of Jefferson's and Madison's time, and by reviving those two provisions to which he had alluded, with such other guards as might be found requisite ? See Congressional Globe,
A week or two afterwards, on presenting a petition of like import as Mr. Johnson's resolution,
Mr. Buchanan said he had also received, with this memorial, a request from a respectable citizen of Philadelphia, that he should express his opinion on this subject at the time of the presentation of the memorial. He did not consider this a proper time, to enter into a discussion of this great question. At the same time, he had no objection to state that he was against extending the time of residence of foreigners beyond the period of five years, which was now necessary to acquire the rights of citizenship. He entertained the same opinions now, upon this subject, that he entertained when he formerly presented memorials of this nature; but if it should be established that the present naturalization laws were not a sufficient guard against frauds, and if it should be established that frauds had been committed to any thing like the extent mentioned, he should go with him who went farthest so to amend the naturalization laws that fraud would not be the consequence of this system ; and he believed that every citizen of the country, whether native or naturalized, was deeply concerned in suppressing these frauds.
Mr. Archer said he was glad to know, at so early a period, what was the state of feeling here. He was glad that it had been announced in that debate, to the people of this country. Gentlemen were going to find, before two years passed over their heads, that this enormous abuse, which he had almost heard denied on this floor yesterday, would no longer be endured; the people were not going to be contented with observing the effect of remedies, or any cutting off of what his honorable colleague [Mr. Rives] termed “excrescences.”
Mr. Rives observed, from his seat, that he had made use of no such expression.
He [Mr. Archer) understood him so; however, it was implied in the remarks of his colleague. He was going to do him full justice. He was very sure his honorable colleague, like himself, was most desirous to find a remedy for the abuses which had been brought before the Senate; but he [Mr. Rives] did not seem disposed to go to the extent that he [Mr. A.) was disposed to go to—not in stripping off branches of this abuse, but in going directly to the root. Let him tell his honorable colleague he should have his sincere participation in that object; but it was not in stripping off branches of the abuse which he [Mr. Rives] spoke of yesterday with a great many expressions of qualification, that this great abuse was to be reached. He had expected to find in him, and the honorable senator from Maryland [Mr. Merrick], cordial and zealous allies in the object which he, for one, would never lose sight of an effectual eradication of the root of the evil. As to the sentiments of the honorable senator from New York (Mr. Foster], he asked the attention of the country to them. After that honorable gentleman had finished his remarks, he [Mr. A.] really did not know whether he would be at liberty to make any distinction between indigenous citizens of this country and those off-scourings of a foreign population who were to come here and enter into the practical operation of our institutions, if not to assist in framing them, while wholly ignorant of their value and import, or reckless of the consequences. He was told that, if we undertook to form any distinction between foreigners and native Americans, it would be invidious. He was told that one man who had lived five years in the United States was just as good as another, and just as much entitled to exercise the elective franchise in the United States. He was told you must look, not to distinctions made by residence or time, but those distinctions made by morals. And what next? That it was very difficult to detect or entorce distinctions depending upon morals. And all this amounted to what? To the fact that, whilst all were ready to admit that the most nefarious alıuses (and we had just as well undertake to deny that the sun shines as to deny this) had occurred at the late Presidential election, nevertheless, there was no distinction to be made between native born citizens and those who were from a foreign country. Let him tell the Senate and the country that such anticipations were not going to be realized. If the members of this and the other body did not take the matter into their hands, the people of the country would take it into their own hands, and adopt a more effectual guard against these frauds than any which had been proposed here for the redress of this public grievance. He moved the reference of the memorial to the Committee on the Judiciary.
At the first session of the twenty-ninth Congress, Robert C. Winthrop, of Massachusetts, presented in the House of Representatives the following resolves passed by the General Assembly of that State:
Whereas, The purity of the ballot box is indispensable for the security of the rights and the free and full expression of the will of the people; and whereas, experience has clearly demonstrated that the naturalization laws of the United States are loose and defective affording opportunities for the perpetration of gross frauds, destructive alike to the rights and morals of our citizens and the stability of our institutions :
Resolved, T'hat the rights, interests and morals of the people demand an immediate and thorough revision of the naturalization laws; and we regard it as an imperative duty of Congress so to amend those laws, that, while a liberal and just policy shall be adopted towards such foreigners as are or may come among us, the rights and privileges of our countrymen shall be kept inviolate, and the ballot box permanently guarded against every improper influence.
Resolved, That our Senators and Representatives in Congress are hereby especially requested to use their utmost exertions forthwith to procure such amendments in the naturalizatian laws as shall carry out and perpetuate, as far as possible, the principles indicated in the foregoing resolve.
When these resolutions were presented, Lewis C. Levin, of Pennsylvania, made a motion that they be referred to a Select Committee, and Richard Brodhead, of the same State, moved to refer them to the Judiciary Committee. A long and animated debate ensued, in which a great number of members participated, and during which Messrs. Levin, Campbell of New York, and Woodruff, expressed themselves in favor of material modification of the naturalization laws; Messrs. Stanton of Tennessee, Owen of Indiana, Darrah of Pennsylvania, Rathbun of New York, Yancey of Alabama, Baker of Illinois, and others, were in favor of the reference to a Select Committee, but opposed to any additional obstacles being interposed to enable foreigners to become citizens; while Messrs. Brodhead, Douglas of Illinois, Hunt of New York, Payne of Alabama, Faran of Ohio, Dixon of Connecticut, Bowlin of Missouri, Chipman of Michigan, Maclay of New York, took decided and unqualified ground for a change of those laws, and favored the reference of the subject to the Judiciary Committee, and at the close of the debate it was so referred; which committee, through Mr. Rathbun, made a report thereon, concluding with a resolution, “that no alteration of the naturalization