It is hard to remember, but the Republican Party, back in the days of Lincoln and Chase, was IN FAVOR of immigration. Not every Republican; there were anti-immigrants, former Know Nothings, who wanted to limit immigration, or deny voting rights to those who had recently become citizens. But not my man Chase; he often talked about the contributions of immigrants.
I am reading this morning a great little speech which Chase gave in August 1859, at the laying of the cornerstone of the Pilgrim Monument in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Chase of course praised the Pilgrims, and he talked about Ohio as the child of New England, founded by men and women who left New England not long after the American Revolution. Here is a long quote:
“Ohio herself, deriving her institutions from the sagacity of New England men, and also from the concurrent wisdom of all statesmen North and South—Ohio receiving her first impress of civilization from the united wisdom of the whole country, stands today as a type of the Union, such as our forefathers made it, and such as I hope in God it may be in all coming time. We are, Mr. President, a people gathered from many lands, and we have no narrow, no sectional, no proscriptive spirit. We welcome, then, the American, from whatever country he may come, and meet together as brethren. Virginia contributed her share; Massachusetts contributed her share; Connecticut has furnished a part of her population, and South Carolina has furnished another part; from the Green Isle of the Ocean, from the banks of the Rhine, from every quarter of the world we welcome those whose love of liberty and free institutions directed them to our shores, and in doing so we build a monument worthy of the descendants of the Pilgrims. [applause] But Ohio is only the cornerstone; new states are to be added; one by one the stones are to be laid in their place until at last a glorious monument shall rise; and where the end will be no man can foresee.”
I post this in the vain hope that today’s Republican leaders will read, reflect, and legislate to OPEN our borders to those whose “love of liberty and free institutions” directs them to our shores.