« PreviousContinue »
ON EMIGRANTS. 55
laws of which the emigrant complains, in this instance, are not limited to this extent. They reach, in their more positive control, above the mere domestic government of this, or any other State of the republic, and may be extended ad libitum to operate as a positive interdict of all intercourse between the people of other, and European countries, and those of the several States of the New World, beyond the western limit of New York.
By the 9th section, article 1st, of the Federal Constitution, a power is vested in the General Congress, solely to control emigration to the United States, by the imposition of a tax at their discretion, not to exceed ten dollars each person; but no such authority, we opine, is directly given to any of the individual States, who are bound under the 2nd section, 3rd article, of the same Constitution, to submit in all matters of controversy "between two or more States, between a State and citizens of another State, and between a State and citizens thereof, and foreign States, citizens, and subjects," to the jurisdiction of the Federal Government, to be determined by the laws in force under the Constitution.
Had a severe and onerous tax of this kind been confined to those emigrants who intended to continue residents of the State of New York, there might perhaps be some colour of excuse for the demand; but there can be no apology for the exaction, when borne in mind, how very few of European emigrants, who annually arrive in this port, remain within the city, or continue subject to its municipal authority, but immediately find their way to the newly settled western country, and are thus far removed from every remote chance of becoming a burden, either on the bounty, or taxes, of its goodly citizens.
A two-fold question arises from these demands: the one as immediately relates to the emigrant; the other, with reference to the generally admitted rights of neighbouring inland States, who are to a considerable extent affected by the imposition. The first, involving the constitutional privileges of any one of the Federal States to interpose by local or municipal laws, and of its mere will in checking emigration to the United States; or of interfering with the assumed rights, that are at least impliedly and mutually conceded by friendly States, to the citizens or subjects of each respectively, of landing on their soil, and of peaceably sojourning or passing through the territory of the other, to any other terminus, or to where perchance their objects, or interests, may eventually betake them. The second,— the constitutionality of any such interference, by, or on the part of any one State of the Republic, to the admitted prejudice of remote and newly settled States, interposing between the manifest interest of such State, and the influx of an emigrant population into its territory. These are matters, though scarcely within our province, of which we hope to see an early and amicable adjustment; at present they operate as a grievous imposition, a severe hardship—v.on the emigrant stranger, in the pecuniary and un- 1 reasonable exactions they compel him to undergo.
Should the emigrant hope to profit by the advantages that are, nevertheless, offered to him in
ADVICE TO EMIGRANTS. 57
the change he has made of country, and of home, he will find it necessary to remodel himself with more becoming care, to the practice, and national peculiarities of the people he is amongst, than to which he has generally been accustomed; to abandon, or at least to modify, many of his peculiar notions, and to identify himself more in spirit, as in his conduct, with the habits, and national feeling, than the generality of those of his countrymen who have preceded him, have deemed it of importance to attend to. By this means only will he avoid the jealousies, the vexed and angry feelings that are every day springing up against him in the country; the antipathies, and deep dislike, which these feelings necessarily produce, and that have so fearfully of late displayed themselves in overt acts of lawless violence and crime, that surmise is defeated in anticipating their further result, or the injurious consequences that may arise from the determined hostility which a repetition of these scenes are so likely to occasion.
Twice within the present year has Philadelphia, the second of American cities, become a prey to the wild disorders of an unrestrained licentiousness; originating in the party strifes, for such has been their character, of the "Native American Party," including amongst them the reckless and discontented outpourings of American society within its limit, and the Catholic or Irish emigrant population of that devoted city; against whom the tide of popular fury was for several successive days directed. Numerous lives fell the sacrifice, whilst upwards of one hundred houses were burnt to the ground: including also several of the Catholic churches or houses of public worship; the convent of the Sisters of Charity; the residences and libraries of the Catholic priesthood, as well as the schools of the Catholic emigrant population. Yet, will every American, in the full recollection of these proceedings, tell you, of the happy condition of this favoured land of universal benevolence and freedom—this home of the exile—this refuge of the politically oppressed, and persecuted, of other nations, to whom its thousand welcomes are addressed on reaching their shores. He will speak to you in the milder accents of confiding truth, of this retreat and sanctuary from all religious strife and persecution; and endeavour to impress upon your belief, the happy and universal toleration that is extended at all times, and throughout every part of his vast country, to every variety of sect and religionist.
But the spirit of hostility that called forth these excesses was not of the day or of the hour. It possessed none of the characteristics of the suddenly excited feeling of an intolerant and unrestrained population; but had been of gradual and stealthy progress—of fixed and certain aim; to which the emigrant has himself, in too many instances, given encouragement. For we have no wish to extenuate*. the conduct of our fellow-countrymen, who constitute the great bulk of the British emigrants to' the United States, in this respect—their too frequent
POSITION OF THE IRISH EMIGRANTS. 59
and busy interference in all matters of internal or domestic government, in which the circumstance of their early naturalization has permitted them to take part—the violent partisanship of their general proceedings in all municipal and other contests; and to which we have often and painfully borne witness; which they attempt to justify, not from its necessity, not from any real advantage or positive good it may secure to them in their new position, but from the terms of their assumed compact—the recent allegiance to which they had sworn—the newly discovered sacrifices they had made, in their severance from friends and early home, to identify themselves in all its reality with this, the country of their adoption. They carry with them, in too many instances, to the New World, the prejudices and dislikes, engendered by early associations in the Old. The sectarian animosity; the unsettled and peculiar notions, which the absence of all liberal and enlightened instruction, together with the sickly influence of a morbid political excitement, to which they are ever subject in their own country, cannot fail to produce. While acting under their varied influences, they become obnoxious to the native citizen; who cannot forget, that the emigrant is the product of another soil; has been reared and schooled in the principles of European monarchies, and that the laws, constitution, and machinery of American government, are unknown to his experience, and very probably to his comprehension; in which he can reasonably feel but very little interest, or anxiety, either as to its