"History is philosophy teaching by example." (Lord Bolingbroke)

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Sunday, May 28, 2006

Thomas Jefferson On The Problem of Rapid and Excessive Immigration

Thomas Jefferson, a primary author of the Declaration of Independence, a Framer of the Constitution, and our third president, was very generous on the issue of immigration, but he also cautioned us about the problems that resulted from too much, too fast:

"[Is] rapid population [growth] by as great importations of foreigners as possible... founded in good policy?... They will bring with them the principles of the governments they leave, imbibed in their early youth; or, if able to throw them off, it will be in exchange for an unbounded licentiousness, passing, as is usual, from one extreme to another. It would be a miracle were they to stop precisely at the point of temperate liberty. These principles, with their language, they will transmit to their children. In proportion to their number, they will share with us the legislation. They will infuse into it their spirit, warp and bias its direction, and render it a heterogeneous, incoherent, distracted mass... If they come of themselves, they are entitled to all the rights of citizenship: but I doubt the expediency of inviting them by extraordinary encouragements."

Thomas Jefferson: Notes on Virginia Q.VIII, 1782. ME 2:118


  • At Sun May 28, 10:09:00 PM PDT, Blogger Publius said…

    I hate to do this, but TJ was in France when they wrote the Constitution. He did write the Declaration of Independence though.

  • At Mon May 29, 07:31:00 AM PDT, Blogger Cubed © said…

    Hi, Publius,

    He did indeed spend a lot of time in France, but through his thinking, discussions, letters, and meetings, he was one of the most important of the Framers of the Constitution, contributing heavily to the principles it embraced.

    As an aside, another of the Framers was George Mason. You don't hear much about him, though, because even though he contributed intellectually, as Jefferson did, he refused to allow his name to be associated with it. The reason? Although a slave owner himself, he wanted the importation of further slaves to be forbidden by the Constitution, but such was not to be. He considered that such a grave error that he basically turned his back on the whole process.

  • At Tue May 30, 06:05:00 AM PDT, Blogger Always On Watch said…

    We certainly don't hear Jefferson's cautionary words in the msm.


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