Lately, the topic of immigration is one of the most debated political and ethical issues in the United States, except for “Obama Care.” I have heard pros and cons in the media about whether or not our forefathers would have condoned such an influx of folks from foreign nations and religions (whether legally or not). I have been reading a book by Thomas E. Woods, Jr., titled, “33 Questions About American History You’re Not Supposed to Ask” (2007).
The first question in the book asks, “Did our Founding Fathers support immigration?” Before I give the answer as to what the author writes in his book, what do you think? Do you think our Founding Fathers would have condoned unregulated immigration? Some would argue that the United States should allow everyone into the “melting pot,” because, after all, our forefathers were immigrants. Remember the Pilgrims? The Irish? The Jews? The Protestants?
Now, let’s consider what Mr. Woods (2007) wrote about what one of our most respected forefathers believed concerning the topic of immigration: Benjamin Franklin. Franklin was one of the leaders for independence from England; he was the person who wrote societal proverbs under the pseudonym of Richard Saunders in “Poor Richard’s Almanac;” and he was an ambassador to England, scientist and political theorist. In short, Franklin was an intelligent person of thought and reason who believed in freedom from totalitarianism. Since Mr. Franklin was for autonomy for every individual, would it also be reasonable to presume that he was a supporter of immigration?
Not entirely. In fact, Franklin believed that too much of an immigration of people of different religions and nations would “radically change the cultural landscape in ways that the native population might not want” (Woods, 2007). Still, Franklin did not totally oppose immigration; he merely did not want to “encourage . . . [those] migrants whose cultural backgrounds were significantly different from their own” (2007).
It is amazing that what was controversial then, continues to be controversial today—only on a much larger scale. Consider the discontent of white and black Americans as to what is happening at the Mexican border and at the controversy concerning the building of a mosque near Ground Zero in New York City.
Why are people so upset and divided about this issue of immigration? Perhaps it is the grounded truth of commonality that has been ingrained into every American; maybe it is for societal and/or religious harmony; or perhaps it is for those who fought and died for this country. From the Revolutionary War to the War on Terror, Americans then and now want what is best for this country, and they do not want a nation divided by numerous cultures and languages.
On a personal note, I wonder if Benjamin Franklin would condone giving illegal immigrants the amnesty that the Obama Administration is rumored to be contemplating.
Somehow, I doubt it. He notes in Poor Richard’s Almanac, “Fish and visitors smell in three days” (Smith, 2004)
Smith, R. (2004). Poor Richard’s Almanac. Retrieved August 8, 2010, from Recess!
Woods, Jr., T.E. (2007). 33 Questions About American History. New York: Ransom House, Inc.
Note to Reader: The opinions expressed in this blog article do not necessarily represent the opinion(s) of Tessler. They are the author’s own viewpoint.