Saturday, November 24

The Other "Native Americans"

I found the following information when doing research on the Irish persecutions in America, Philadelphia particularly. There is an obvious contemporary parallel. This excerpt is from the book History of the American Party published in 1855, which recounts their Preamble and Constitution written in 1837.

“On the 4th of July, 1776, our forefathers proclaimed to the world the independence of these United States, and the equal right of all its citizens to the free and fair pursuit of happiness: on that day they affixed their names to that document, the most illustrious ever penned by the hand of man, and pledged ‘their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honour,’ to the support of the same.

“In 1790, a law for the encouragement of emigration was enacted, holding out certain inducements to the foreigner to come and make his abode amongst us; among others, he is entitled, after five years’ residence, to the right of suffrage, and thereby a representation in our councils. Of this we are now convened to complain. While, at the same time, we invite the stranger, worn down by oppression at home, to come and share with us the blessings of our native land—here find an asylum for his distress, and partake of the plenty a kind Providence has so bountifully given us, we deny his right (hereby meaning as foreigner any emigrant who may hereafter arrive in our country) to have a voice in our legislative halls, his eligibility to office under any circumstances, and we ask a repeal of that Naturalization Law, which, it must be apparent to every reflective mind, to every true son of America, has now become an evil. This we ask not so much for ourselves, as for our children. It needs no logic to prove how rapidly increasing is the foreign influence, even now by far too powerful in our country; and the day must come, and , we fear, is not far distant, when most of our offices will be held by foreigners—men who have no sympathy with the spirit of our institutions, who have never sacrificed aught to procure the blessings they enjoy, and instead of governing ourselves, as is our native-born right, we shall be governed by men, many of whom, but a few short years previously, scarcely knew of our existence. Is this the way to secure and perpetuate the freedom for which our ancestors bled and died? No, Americans, no! Let us come forward, then and prove that the spirit of ’76 is not yet extinct, and that we are not degenerate sons of worthy sires. Let us crush this rising power: it has already blossomed, let us destroy it in the bud, ere the fruit reach maturity.

“We have said that this law was an evil. At the present moment it is particularly so; for Europe is industriously ridding herself of an excess of population now become burdensome to her. And whom does she send? Her paupers, her convicts, the outpourings of her almshouses and jails. Even lately has a would-be-regicide been landed on your shores by a national vessel. We beseech you, by the shades of the heroes of the Revolution, to blot out this foul stain from our escutcheon, and leave the field as pure and bright as ever. The emigrants from Europe are principally of that class who, discontented and oppressed at home, leave there, filled with all the requisite materials to spread among our citizens anarchy, radicalism, and rebellion. Greedy of power, and regardless of civil restraint, they come to the land consecrated by the blood of our ancestors, ignorant of our customs, caring nothing for our laws, and strangers to all those essential qualities so necessary in self-government, and so indispensable to our existence as a free and happy people.

“Now, honestly and seriously entertaining the opinion that, by a repeal of the Naturalization Law, all the foregoing evils, with many others, would be removed, and believing that this object can never be effected by either of the great political parties of the day, singly, we, the American-born citizens of Germantown township [Philadelphia], and its vicinity, without any distinction as to political creed or religious faith, do unite together in an association to co-operate with all other similar institutions of native Americans, in order to obtain a repeal of the Naturalization Law, by all honourable means in our power.”

The Declaration of Principles
Of the American Republican Associations

"1st. We maintain that the naturalization laws should be so altered as to require of all foreigners, who may hereafter arrive in this country, a residence of twenty-one years, before granting the privilege of the elective franchise; but at the same time, we distinctly declare that it is not our intention to interfere with the vested rights of any citizen, or lay any obstruction in the way of foreigners obtaining a livelihood or acquiring property in this country; but, on the contrary, we would grant them the right to purchase, hold, and transfer property, and to enjoy and participate in all the benefits of our country (except that of voting and holding office), as soon as they declare their intentions to become citizens.

"2nd. We maintain that the Bible, without note or comment, is not sectarian—that it is the fountain-head of morality and all good government, and should be used in our public schools as a reading book.

"3rd. We are opposed to a union of church and state in any and every form.

"4th. We hold that native Americans, only, should be appointed to office, to legislate, administer, or execute the laws of their own country."

In 1844, Philadelphia suffered the worst Irish riots in their history. Two dozen were killed, neighborhoods burned and the instigating Irish took no responsibility. However, the popular belief that "No Irish Need Apply" when it came to jobs is challenged by Richard Jensen in his thoroughly researched article here: No Irish Need Apply - The Myth of Victimization

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