« PreviousContinue »
II The mighty tide of immigration to our shores has brought in its train much of good and much of evil; and whether the good or the evil shall predominate depends mainly on whether these newcomers do or do not throw themselves heartily into our national life, cease to be European, and become Americans like the rest of us. More than a third of the people of the Northern States are of foreign birth or parentage. An immense number of them have become completely Americanized, and these stand on exactly the same plane as the descendants of any Puritan, Cavalier, or Knickerbocker among us, and do their full and honorable share of the nation's work. But where immigrants, or the sons of immigrants, do not heartily and in good faith throw in their lot with us, but cling to the speech, the customs, the ways of life, and the habits of thought of the Old World which they have left, they thereby harm both themselves and us. If they remain alien elements, unassimilated, and with interests separate from ours, they are mere obstructions to the current of our national life, and moreover, can get no good from it themselves.
From his own standpoint, it is beyond all question the wise thing for the immigrant to become thoroughly Americanized. Moreover, from our standpoint, we have a right to demand it. We freely extend the hand of welcome and of good-fellowship to every man, no matter what his creed or birthplace, who comes here honestly intent on becoming a good United States citizen like the rest of us; but we have a right, and it is our duty, to demand that he shall indeed become so, and shall not
confuse the issues with which we are struggling by introducing among us Old-World quarrels and prejudices.
There are certain ideas which he must give up. For instance, he must learn that American life is incompatible with the existence of any form of anarchy, or of any secret society having murder for its aim, whether at home or abroad; and he must learn that we exact full religious toleration and the complete separation of Church and State. Moreover, he must not bring in his Old-World religious race and national antipathies, but must merge them into love for our common country, and must take pride in the things which we can all take pride in. He must revere only our flag; not only must it come first, but no other flag should even come second. He must learn to celebrate Washington's birthday rather than that of the Queen or Kaiser, and the Fourth of July instead of St. Patrick's Day. Our political and social questions must be settled on their own merits, and not complicated by quarrels between England and Ireland, or France and Germany, with which we have nothing to do: it is an outrage to fight an American political campaign with reference to questions of European politics. Above all, the immigrant must learn to talk and think and be United States.
Americanism is a question of spirit, conviction, and ✓ purpose, not of creed or birthplace. The politician who bids for the Irish or German vote, or the Irishman or German who votes as an Irishman or German, is despicable, for all citizens of this commonwealth should vote solely as Americans; but he is not a whit less despicable than the voter who votes against a good American, merely because that American happens to have been
born in Ireland or Germany. Know-nothingism, in any form, is as utterly un-American as foreignism. It is a base outrage to oppose a man because of his religion or birthplace, and all good citizens will hold any such effort in abhorrence. A Scandinavian, a German, or an Irishman who has really become an American has the right to stand on exactly the same footing as any native-born citizens in the land, and is just as much entitled to the friendship and support, social and political, of his neighbors.
We Americans can only do our allotted task well if we face it steadily and bravely, seeing but not fearing the dangers. Above all we must stand shoulder to shoulder, not asking as to the ancestry or creed of our comrades, but only demanding that they be in very truth Americans, and that we all work together, heart, hand, and head, for the honor and the greatness of our common country.
THERE are two demands upon the spirit of Americanism, of nationalism. Each must be met. Each is essential. Each is vital, if we are to be a great and proud nation.
The first is that we shall tolerate no kind of divided allegiance in this country. There is no room for the hy. phen in our citizenship. There is no place for a 50-50 Americanism in the United States. He who is not with us, absolutely and without reserve of any kind, is against us, and should be treated as an alien enemy, to be interned or sent out of the country. We have room
1 From American Ideals. Copyright, 1897. G. P. Putnam's Sons, New York and London, publishers.
in this country for but one flag, the Stars and Stripes, and we should tolerate no allegiance to any other flag, whether a foreign flag or the red flag or black flag. We have room for but one loyalty, loyalty to the United States. We have room for but one language, the language of Washington and Lincoln, the language of the Declaration of Independence and the Gettysburg speech; the English language. English should be the only language used or taught in the primary schools, public or private; in higher schools of learning other modern languages should be taught, on an equality with one another; but the language of use and instruction should be English. We should require by law that within a reasonable length of time, a time long enough to prevent needless hardship, every newspaper should be published in English. The language of the church and the Sunday-school should be English. The government should provide night schools free for every immigrant who comes here, require him to attend them, and return him to his own country unless at the end of five years he has learned to speak and read English. This war has shown us in vivid and startling fashion the danger of allowing our people to separate along lines of racial origin and linguistic cleavage. We shall be guilty of criminal folly if we fail to insist on the complete and thoroughgoing unification of our people. ...
This is one of the demands to be made in the name of the spirit of American nationalism. The other is equally important. We must treat every good American of German or of any other origin, without regard to his creed, as on a full and exact equality with every other good American, and set our faces like flint against the crea
tures who seek to discriminate against such an American, or to hold against him the birthplace of himself or his parents.
We must resolutely refuse to permit our great nation, our great America, to be split into a score of little replicas of European nationalities, and to become a Balkan Peninsula on a larger scale. We are a nation, and not a hodgepodge of foreign nationalities. We are a people, and not a polyglot boarding-house. We must insist on a unified nationality, with one flag, one language, one set of national ideals. We must shun as we would shun the plague all efforts to make us separate in groups of separate nationalities. We must all of us be Americans, and nothing but Americans; and all good Americans must stand on an equality of consideration and respect, without regard to their creed or to the land from which their forebears came.
We are the fellow countrymen of Washington and Lincoln, of Lighthorse Harry Lee and his great son, of Grant and Sherman and Farragut, of Marion and Paul Revere and Schuyler, of Washington's General Sullivan and Lincoln's General Sheridan. These men were of diverse ancestry; their forefathers came from England or Ireland or Scotland or Holland or France or Spain. But they were American, and nothing else; and if we are really to be loyal to their spirit, we, in our day, must be Americans, and nothing else. And, above all, we must be Americans, and only Americans, in the face of
and every foreign foe.
We are also, and just as much, the fellow countrymen of Muhlenberg and Custer. There is no more typically American figure in the Revolutionary War than that of