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"NATIVE AMERICAN" PARTY. 45
many parts of the republic to give it increased energy and direction, under the name or title of the "Native American" or republican party, and whose acknowledged purpose is, to check emigration, by enforcing a change in the general and municipal laws of the country, as affects strangers, withholding from them many of the political privileges they now exercise, at the same time, controlling, by an almost prohibitory enactment, their arrival in the country.
This party, which dates its existence as a separate political body from the year 1836 only, is daily acquiring new strength from its increased numbers, and more perfect organization, and is commended to the popular feeling by the jealous apprehension in the minds of most Americans, of an undue rivalry of European emigrants upon their own soil, as from other causes, equally as unreasonable and selfish. It has already extended its ramifications throughout various intersections of the country, especially within the eastern, or Atlantic States, where a dearth of population, or paucity of labour seldom exists, to point out the frequent impolicy, or inexpediency of its proceedings; and within the last and present year, has been able to control many of the municipal elections, especially in the empire city of New York, at all times remarkable in its antipathies, and ill-concealed dislike to the emigrant stranger.
Whatever of doubt may have existed as to the purpose of the early formation or designs of this party, they have taken care to dissipate all apprehension on this account from the public mind, in the published manifesto, in which they very clearly set forth the objects of their institution to be as follows:—
1st, "The entire repeal of the present naturalization laws, and the prescribing twenty-one years residence as the future limit to which any Foreigner shall be admitted to the rights of citizenship."
2ndly, "The withholding from all Foreigners at all times, and under all and every circumstances, the right to be appointed to office—to legislate— administer or execute the laws of the country."
3rdly, "The repeal of the present common school law, and the re-enactment of the public school law in its stead; thereby enforcing the introduction of the Bible, without 'note or comment,' as an universal school-book throughout the various public schools of the country."
This latter, though directed against the Roman Catholic population generally, is especially intended to operate against the Irish emigrants and their descendants, and to debar them from the advantages of gratuitous, or public instruction. We cannot forget, that this has been one of the ingredients included in the catalogue of ills of which the Irish Catholic has had to complain in his own country, which heretofore occasioned so much of sectarian and embittered animosity, and which has produced so many dire and lasting consequences in its train;— that it is somewhat startling to find the principle attempted to be introduced as a component in
MESSAGE OF THE MAYOR. 47
American legislation, especially at this period of progressive advancement and civilization, and at the very time that the councils of the British Government have yielded to the necessity of a more enlarged and liberal observance, in its efforts to dispense universal instruction amidst this portion of her population.
The public declarations of the avowed leaders of this party breathe the same spirit of malevolence and dislike to the foreign emigrant, and which we even find embodied in many of the public records of the country. We may instance, amongst others of a minor note, the official message of the late Mayor of New York (Aaron Clark) to the Common Council of that city, recommending to their adoption some more effectual municipal means of abating foreign emigration to this port; and though we do not recognize in this public declaration a deliberative act of any representative, or public officer of the Federal Administration, to which any other, or foreign Government, may offer exceptions; we are, nevertheless, constrained to attach very considerable importance to its promulgation, not only as emanating from the chief magistrate of the most important commercial, and politically influential city of the republic; and re-echoing, as it certainly does, the voice of a large majority of the people of these States, but also from the equally important delineation it affords, of the privation and suffering, to which so very many of our confiding fellow countrymen have been exposed, in their zealous and simple efforts, to realize among strangers in the New World, those anticipations of worldly independence and future gain, which they have failed to secure among their friends in the Old.
"Hundreds of thousands of the population of portions of Europe" (remarks this public functionary), "are in a state of poverty, excitement and wretchedness—the prospect before them very discouraging. The old country has more people than it is convenient to support; and though many of them feel no anxiety to leave their native land, they see others depart; they read the mixture of truth and fiction by those employed to obtain passengers; they are assured they can easily return if not suited with the country; that certain employment, enormously high wages, and almost sure wealth await them. The times being more unpromising in other countries than in our own, they imagine they cannot change for the worse, and hither they come," with the result at which his honour arrives, that,—" they cannot fail to be an intolerable burden to them." While he continues:—
"Our streets are filled with the wandering crowds of these passengers, clustering in our city, unaccustomed to our climate, without money, without employment, without friends—many not speaking our language, and without any dependence for food and raiment, or fireside—certain of nothing but hardship and a grave; and to be received, of course," by no very ardent sympathy by those native citizens, whose immediate ancestors were the saviours
AGAINST EMIGRANTS. 49
of the country in its greatest peril. Besides, these seem not to hold opinions in harmony with the true spirit of our government. - They drive our native workmen into exile, where they must war again with the savage and the wilderness, encounter again the tomahawk and scalping knife, and meet death beyond the region of civilization and of home.
"Petitions, signed by hundreds asking for work, are presented in vain. Private associations for relief are almost wholly without funds. Thousands must therefore wander to and fro on the face of the earth, filling every part of our once happy land, with squalid poverty, and with profligacy ;"—and this effort of native sensitiveness concludes, by the following affectation of sympathy in their assumed wretchedness.
"It is a mercy to them to keep them where they are, at their own fire-side be it ever so humble, where they will be amongst their relations, and under a government that is bound to take care of them at all hazards." "Labourers are not sought after; and while we pity the griefs and sorrows of all our fellow-creatures, we cannot deny that a preference in the distribution of charities, as well as place and employment, is due to the descendants of the soldiers of the Revolution, and the heroes and sufferers of the second war for Independence. It was asked by the Father of American liberty; it has been promised to their sons. It cannot be conceded to aliens, without great indignity to our native and adopted citizens."
VOL. I. E