Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

passed by the House,—(See Congressional Globe)—and finally by the Senate, but vetoed by President Pierce. Pending its consideration in the Senate, Benjamin F. Wade, of Ohio, offered an amendment providing that the benefits of the bill should not be limited to those then residents in the country, which led to a long and interesting discussion. See Congressional Globe, vol. xxviii., part 2, p. 944. Mr. Wade said :

The object of my amendment is to strike out the limitation which restricts the benefits of the bill to persons who are now residents of the United States, and prevents its operating in favor of those who may come into the country after its passage. I can see no good reason for the distinction now made in the bill. I am willing that foreigners who come into this country, and go on to the public lands and settle there and labor for five years, should then have the advantages of this law. I am willing, so far as I am concerned, that the law shall operate as an inducement for such persons to come here and settle on our public lands. The effect of the amendment will be barely to strike out this restriction, and to make the bill operate in favor of all foreigners who may come in hereafter, as well as those who are now here. This is the only object of the amendment.

[ocr errors]

Mr. Adams, of Mississippi, said :
I cannot, Mr. President, vote for the amendment of the Senator from Ohio.

The proposition of the Senator from Ohio is, that you shall not only tax one portion of the people for the benefit of another, but that you shall tax the native born and adopted citizens of this country for the benefit of foreigners; that you shall say, by this bill, to every man who may reside without the limits of the United States, if he will come here, that your citizens shall be taxed to the value of one hundred and sixty acres, and a bounty of that amount of land bestowed upon him. To that I am opposed.

My friend from Iowa said he hoped the time would never arrive when the people of this country would cease to remember, with sentiments of gratitude, the claims of the descendants of the Lafayettes and Montgomeries, and others who aided our fathers in the revolution. I hope so too; but times have changed. The time has ceased, in my humble judgment, when we should continue to hold out other and different inducements to individuals to immigrate and become citizens of this country, than are afforded by the character of our institutions. I would not change the policy of this government, and refuse to hold out inducements such as we have heretofore held to foreigners. I desire to see this country continue to be a home and an asylum for the oppressed of all nations. I desire, whenever a foreigner sets his foot upon our soil, to have thrown over him the panoply of free institutions, to protect him in his person, his property, in pursuit of happiness, and an unbounded liberty of conscience; and with that, from this day forth, I will stop. To every man who has come here under the existing laws, I would extend all the rights which our present laws promise him, and to every man who comes to this country in the future, with the rights I have indicated, I would cease to offer more. Have you not seen, sir, within the last few months, petitions presented here and laid upon your table, remonstrating, in the name of foreigners, against the action of this body? Not content with that, have you not learned through the public newspapers that a mob of foreigners, under the style of foreigners, assembled together, and hanged in effigy an honorable member of this body? What does that indicate? If the act

a

indicates any thing or has any significance, it is that, in the estimation of those men, the individual referred to, the Chairman of the Committee on Territories, (Mr. Douglas,) ought to be hung by the neck until he is dead, and for what, sir? For doing his duty to the Constitution, to his oath, and to his country. I ask Senators if they do not see indications in this of a combination in retaining the notions of the olden country which shows that it is necessary that we should check it by legislation. I do not propose that at the present time—but that we should cease to hold out any further inducements. What do we need of further immigration from other countries? We have a sufficient population to protect ourselves against the world. We have a sufficient population to settle every portion of our country which it is necessary to settle. For the purpose of a free and happy government we have a sufficient population, and I think we should not adopt the amendment of the Senator from Ohio, and thereby tax native born and adopted citizens to purchase one hundred and sixty acres of land for those who may think proper to come here hereafter.

John B. Thompson, of Kentucky, said :

The old thirteen States are to get nothing. Whatever we may claim, we are to have nothing. The Senator's proposition not only comes up to that, but it turns round and says, in reference to Nebraska and the Missouri Compromise, to Southern Senators, not only are the old thirteen States to be deprived of their rights, but we will let these Irish and Dutch, and any body you please—I do not speak in disrespectful terms--come into the territory, and, if you want to go any where from Virginia, or Louisiana, or Texas, you must stand back and let them take the land. Is there a Southern man, who has a regard for his constituency, or the interest of the section which he represents, who intends—as he knows it is a foregone conclusion that this is all to be free soil territoryto let them take it, and let them snatch it away from them, and say that men from the South are not to go into it, because they are tainted with a nigger? Are we to be told that we must stand back, and let strangers, and aliens in blood, in feeling, and language, have it? But I do not know what Southern Senators, or Senators from the old States, may think in reference to this sort of thing, because they have got recently to arguing about matters in such a way that a man scarcely knows, unless he examines closely, what they really design.

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

Mr. President, I do not know that I exactly concur with him who said some years ago, in commenting upon this matter, that we never would have a first-rate man again as President; for he said, that understrappers and understrikers would never let a man of prominent ability attain to the position; that no such man could ever come to the Presidency of the nation, because the understrappers and seekers of office would be eternally for catching a man whom they could control. He thought we never would have a President of any size or account again. So far as that is concerned, the first thing that you see these Presidential aspirants do—I am sorry to say it; I apply it to no party, or men—is to start a demagoguing; and, sir, he draws himself up; he is not an American at all; his father was an Irishman, and his mother a Dutchman. [Laughter.] That is the beginning of it. Then, though he has no respect for religion, no regard for things of that sort, supposing himself in his peculiar views to be in the minority, and though he may be an infidel, and hate all religion, the next thing we hear, he is making the sign of the cross, and muttering all sort of insensible jargon over the country to catch Catholics (Laughter]; and then, sir, to top off the thing, he offers all his land to these men, just as the wicked one of old offered to our Saviour the kingdoms of the world, if he would fall down and worship him, when the old scoundrel had not an inch of terra firma in all creation to put his foot upon. [Great Laughter.]

a

Now, sir, I wish gentlemen to understand that I am not a Native American, in the political sense in which the word is used. I have a profound respect for the original policy which was inaugurated or installed at the origin of this government in relation to foreigners. I believe that we now commonly use regal and imperial terms when speak. ing of a matter of policy; everything now-a-days, whether a principle or a measure, is «installed” or “inaugurated.” I say, therefore, that I have a very great reverence for the original policy installed or inaugurated by the founders of our government in relation to foreigners.

a

[ocr errors]

I cannot agree that now, when there is about to be a great struggle in Europe, we shall invite men from the perlieus and faubourgs of Paris, from the outskirts and brothels of London, and from the civil and revolutionary wars of Italy and Hungary. I cannot consent that, upon a mere declaration of intention, each of them shall have a right to one hundred and sixty acres of our public land. Suppose such fellows should come here in large numbers, and go out to that land of flowers-Nebraska-a country beyond the State in which you live, Mr. President, and one of us should go there. If we went, we should find it a perfect Babel of confusion, where unknown and innumerable tongues were spoken. If a man of the Angelo-Saxon race should go among them, and they should find that he had not been in a riot any where in Italy, that he had not been compelled to run away from France, but that he was a peaceable American, they would probably say to him, “How did you come here, sir? Who did you murder in Tennessee, or in Kentucky, for which you run away? Who did you swindle in New York, or what did you steal in Ohio, that you have come out here into this Babel of confusion ?" Sir, are these people whom we should build up in a State in that far-off region, out of the ruined fortunes, the ransacked homes, and the broken hearts of the red men of the forest ? Is this your philanthropy? I fear this is exactly what it will result in.

[blocks in formation]

I do not know whether it is socialism from France, or whether it is Kossuthism from Hungary and Italy; but I say that, from the infusion of foreign material, or from the idiosyncracies of our own people, they have become so inflamed and so restive of power that if they were so concentrated in this country, and could make a revolution here as in France or in England, by getting possession of the capital, our inflammable, revolutionary, discontented, dissatisfied people would go far beyond filibusterism or anything of that sort, and would strike for the overthrow of the government itself. It is a blessing that they are not so concentrated. I ask you, then, sir, for the sake of the safety and perpetuity of this Union, to keep our public domain, not for foreigners, but as a safetyvalve, as a means of escape to let off the wild, unrestrained spirits we have among us; to keep it as a place where, among Indians and buffaloes, and in the deep recesses of the mountains, and in reckless and perilous adventures, such men, intolerant of society, averse to toil, and opposed to labor, may go out and waste away their spirit which, if cramped up in a capital that controlled a nation, would subvert the institutions of the 'country. That, sir, with me is a grave consideration.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

There are some other matters to which I do not now wish to allude, but to which I may probably refer before the bill shall be finally disposed of, if I get an opportunity. In regard to the policy of it, I am almost constrained to say that, rather than see located

a

on the western borders of the Missouri, a people aliens and strangers to us in blood, aliens and strangers to us in language, as confused in language as were those who were endeavor. ing to build the tower of Babel; people who do not love us, people of a bad stock, (for the vagabond, the pauper, and the refugee from Europe, or from our old States, are those who are to receive this gratuity) rather than to see such a confusion of tongues, such a ringstreaked and speckled set put up in our far-off territory, as a sort of imperium in imperio to hold the balance of power and control this Union, I would wish it destroyed like Sodom and Gomorrah, and lost to the Union forever; for we had better have no public land than have such neighbors.

At a subsequent stage of the discussion, John M. Clayton proposed to strike out the sixth section, which was in these words :

“ Sec. 6. And be it further enacted, That if any individual now a resident of any one of the States or Territories, and not a citizen of the United States, but at the time of making such application for the benefit of this act shall have filed a declaration of intention as required by the naturalization laws of the United States, and shall become a citizen of the same before the issuance of the patent, as made and provided for in this act, shall be placed upon an equal footing with the native born citizen of the United States," – and insert the following:

Sec. 6. And be it further enacted, That any mechanic or other citizen of the United States, of full age, engaged in and accustomed to any business, trade, or calling, other than the cultivation of land, shall, in consideration of his inability to comply with the conditions of this act, by reason of his want of knowledge, skill, or experience in such cultivation of land, be entitled to receive in lieu of one hundred and sixty acres of land, as herein provided, the sum of $160, to be paid out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated.

Mr. Clayton said :

The section proposed to be stricken out grants to every alien, or foreigner not naturalized, the inoment he lands upon our shores, the right to locate one hundred and sixty acres of the public domain, to which he is to become fully entitled by a patent to be issued after the expiration of five years, if during that period he shall cultivate the land and reside upon it according to the terms of the bill. The object is to test the question whether aliens are to be placed on the same footing with citizens of the United States in the donation of the public lands. True it is, the section proposes to give only to foreigners who are here and not naturalized at the time of the passage of the act; but every man can see that if the principle is now adopted, by agreeing to the section which I propose to strike out, that all aliens in the country at the time of the passage of the act are entitled to one hundred and sixty acres of the public domain, as a matter of course it will follow that, at the next session, or at some subsequent session, another act will be passed for the mere purpose of putting them upon an equality of common justice, admitting all aliens, not only those now in the country, but all who may come hereafter, to as full a share of the inheritance of the American people as American citizens themselves.

Mr. Clay, of Alabama, said :

Mr. President, I do not propose to make a speech upon this question ; but in addition to what has been said by the honorable Senator from Delaware, I wish to call the atten. tion of the Senate to the fact that he does not present the case in as strong a manner as it may be presented. Now, sir, I wish to ask the friends of the bill what they mean by the term “ now” residents of the United States. To what period of time does this word “ now” refer ?

But, sir, this is not all. I say that it is giving to aliens who may hereafter come into the country, bounties which have not only not been conferred upon American citizens, but bounties in which they cannot participate. The amendment which has been offered by the honorable Senator from Delaware suggests a large class of citizens who cannot participate in this bounty. Again, all those who have hitherto settled upon the public lands, and paid the price demanded, cannot be expected to participate in this bounty. Hence I am decidedly opposed to the sixth section, as it stands in the

Il. I shall vote to strike it out, first, because I say it does not exclude any foreigner; it does not exclude those who are to come hereafter ; for suppose the word “ now" should be construed and understood by the Senate to mean at the time of the passage of the bill; suppose that to be the time designated, I ask, where in the bill is it required of any foreigner that he shall swear that he was a resident of the United States at the time of the passage of the bill ? There is no such requirement any where ; and hence it appears to me to be a miserable equivoque that is intended to mislead or deceive somebody. He is not required to swear that he was then a resident of the country. I do not care when they come, it is a perpetual right granted to all who may arrive hereafter to participate in the bounties of the government in settling upon the public lands; because they are not required to state that they were residents of the country at the time of the passage of the bill, and the word “ now” is an indefinite and unmeaning one, which is subject to different interpretations by different persons.

Mr. Clayton again :

What I stated in regard to the section is perfectly and literally true. It offers to every alien, every foreigner not naturalized, as soon as he arrives in the United States, the right to one hundred and sixty acres of the public lands as soon as they are surveyed; and it does it in this way: He has nothing to do but to make his declaration of intention. Of course that causes no trouble. Then he enters upon the land, and has as much right to enter as an American citizen who has lived here for forty years. Then he is to cultivate the land according to the provisions of the bill, just as citizens must do, for five years. That is just the time within which he can become naturalized. In five years any foreigner can become naturalized, and then he is entitled to a patent precisely as any other man who is born here ; so that, in effect and substance, this section gives to every alien the same right to the full extent of a native born citizen of the United States.

Sir, there is another thing rather remarkable in this bill. There is no time provided within which the foreigner, not naturalized, shall become a citizen of the United States. If he lives on the land five years after having declared his intention to become a citizen, at any time after that, whenever he shall choose to become a citizen, if that is twenty years arterwards, he is entitled to a patent; and yet during all this time he is to remain on the land and enjoy it as fully as any American citizen can do. There is not a word in the bill to drive him from the land because he does not at the end of the five years become a citizen, so that I respectfully submit to the honorable Senator from Wisconsin, I think I was right in every thing that I said in reference to the section. I do not propose to discuss it. It is perfectly true that I have not disguised my views in

a

« AnteriorContinuar »