Citizenship for Immigrants (August 9)
- Mr. GOUVERNEUR MORRIS
moved to insert 14 instead of 4 years citizenship as a qualification for Senators: urging the danger of admitting
strangers into our public Councils. Mr. PINKNEY seconded him.
- Mr. ELSEWORTH
was opposed to the motion as discouraging meritorious aliens from emigrating to this Country.
- Mr. PINCKNEY.
As the Senate is to have the power of making treaties and managing our foreign affairs, there is peculiar danger
and impropriety in opening its door to those who have foreign attachments. He quoted the jealousy of the Athenians
on this subject who made it death for any stranger to intrude his voice into their Legislative proceedings.
- COLONEL MASON
highly approved of the policy of the motion. Were it not that many not natives of this Country had acquired great
merit during the revolution, he should be for restraining the eligibility into the Senate, to natives.
- Mr. MADISON
was not averse to some restrictions on this subject; but could never agree to the proposed amendment. He thought any
restriction however in the Constitution unnecessary, and improper. unnecessary; because the National Legislature is
to have the right of regulating naturalization, and can by virtue thereof fix different periods of residence as
conditions of enjoying different privileges of Citizenship: Improper; because it will give a tincture of illiberality
to the Constitution: because it will put it out of the power of the National Legislature even by special acts of
naturalization to confer the full rank of Citizens on meritorious strangers and because it will discourage the most
desireable class of people from emigrating to the United States. Should the proposed Constitution have the intended
effect of giving stability and reputation to our Governments great numbers of respectable Europeans: men who love
liberty and wish to partake its blessings, will be ready to transfer their fortunes hither. All such would feel the
mortification of being marked with suspicious incapacitations though they should not covet the public honors He was
not apprehensive that any dangerous number of strangers would be appointed by the State Legislatures, if they were
left at liberty to do so: nor that foreign powers would made use of strangers as instruments for their purposes.
Their bribes would be expended on men whose circumstances would rather stifle than excite jealousy and watchfulness
in the public.
- Mr. BUTLER
was decidely opposed to the admission of foreigners without a long residence in the Country. They bring with them,
not only attachments to other Countries; but ideas of Government so distinct from ours that in every point of
view they are dangerous. He acknowledged that if he himself had been called into public life within a short time
after his coming to America, his foreign habits opinions and attachments would have rendered him an improper agent
in public affairs. He mentioned the great strictness observed in Great Britain on this subject.
- Dr. FRANKLIN
was not against a reasonable time, but should be very sorry to see any thing like illiberality inserted in the
Constitution. The people in Europe are friendly to this Country. Even in the Country with which we have been lately
at war, we have now and had during the war, a great many friends not only among the people at large but in both
houses of Parliament. In every other Country in Europe all the people are our friends. We found in the course of the
Revolution that many strangers served us faithfully- and that many natives took part against their Country.
When foreigners after looking about for some other Country in which they can obtain more happiness, give a preference
to ours it is a proof of attachment which ought to excite our confidence and affection.
- Mr. RANDOLPH
did not know but it might be problematical whether emigrations to this Country were on the whole useful or not: but
be could never agree to the motion for disabling them for 14 years to participate in the public honours. He reminded
the Convention of the language held by our patriots during the Revolution, and the principles laid down in all our
American Constitutions. Many foreigners may have fixed their fortunes among us under the faith of these invitations.
All persons under this description, with all others who would be affected by such a regulation, would enlist
themselves under the banners of hostility to the proposed System. He would go as far as seven years, but no farther.
- Mr. WILSON
said he rose with feelings which were perhaps peculiar; mentioning the circumstance of his not being a native,
and the possibility, if the ideas of some gentlemen should be pursued, of his being incapacitated from holding a
place under the very Constitution, which he had shared in the trust of making. He remarked the illiberal complexion
which the motion would give to the System, and the effect which a good system would have in inviting meritorious
foreigners among us, and the discouragement and mortification they must feel from the degrading discrimination,
now proposed. He had himself experienced this mortification. On his removal into Maryland, he found himself, from
defect of residence, under certain legal incapacities which never ceased to produce chagrin, though he assuredly did
not desire and would not have accepted the offices to which they related. To be appointed to a place may be matter
of indifference. To be incapable of being appointed, is a circumstance grating and mortifying.
- Mr. GOUVERNEUR MORRIS.
- The lesson we are taught is that we should be governed as much by our reason, and as little by our feelings as possible. What is the language of Reason on this subject? That we should not be polite at the expence of prudence. There was a moderation in all things. It is said that some tribes of Indians, carried their hospitality so far as to offer to strangers their wives and daughters. Was this a proper model for us? He would admit them to his house, he would invite them to his table, would provide for them confortable lodgings; but would not carry the complaisance so far as, to bed them with his wife. He would let them worship at the same altar, but did not choose to make Priests of them. He ran over the privileges which emigrants would enjoy among us, though they should be deprived of that of being eligible to the great offices of Government; observing that they exceeded the privileges allowed to foreigners in any part of the world; and that as every Society from a great nation down to a club had the right of declaring the conditions on which new members should be admitted, there could be no room for complaint. As to those philosophical gentlemen, those Citizens of the World as they call themselves, He owned he did not wish to see any of them in our public Councils. He would not trust them. The men who can shake off their attachments to their own Country can never love any other. These attachments are the wholesome prejudices which uphold all Governments, Admit a Frenchman into your Senate, and he will study to increase the commerce of France: an Englishman, he will feel an equal biass in favor of that of England. It has been said that The Legislatures will not chuse foreigners, at least improper ones. There was no knowing what Legislatures would do. Some appointments made by them, proved that every thing ought to be apprehended from the cabals practised on such occasions. He mentioned the case of a foreigner who left this State in disgrace, and worked himself into an appointment from another to Congress.