President Grover Cleveland (1897) On Immigration

I have been working on a set of Civics Cards for weeks.  I have Presidents, States, am working on the Supreme Court, the Constitution, House and Senate,  The Supreme Court and even the 2 Major Parties.  These are flash cards with info on them, and the completed set will be about 400 Cards when finished.  But while I was doing research on Presidents I came on this gem on immigration by Democrat Grover Cleveland, the 22nd and 24th President of the United States. He has two separate numbers because he served two terms separated by someone else.   In his second term a bill was introduced to limit immigration to those who were literate. He vetoed it.

Now the veto message:

A radical departure from our national policy relating to immigration is here presented. Heretofore we have welcomed all who came to us from other lands except those whose moral or physical conditions or history threatened danger to our national welfare and safety….we have encouraged those coming from foreign countries to cast their lot with us and join in the development of our vast domains, securing in return a share in the blessings of American citizenship.

A century’s stupendous growth, largely due to the assimilation and thrift of millions of sturdy and patriotic adopted citizens, attests the success of this generous and free-handed policy which, while guarding the people’s interests, exacts from our immigrants only physical and moral soundness and a willingness and ability to work.

… It is said, however, that the quality of recent immigration is undesirable. The time is quite within recent memory when the same thing was said of immigrants who, with their descendants, are now numbered among our best citizens.

The best reason that could be given for this radical restriction of immigration is the necessity of protecting our population against degeneration and saving our national peace and quiet from imported turbulence and disorder.

I cannot believe that we would be protected against these evils by limiting immigration to those who can read and write in any language twenty-five words of our Constitution.

This was a bill introduced by Henry Cabot Lodge (Yes, that Henry Cabot Lodge) Cleveland vetoed it.  If you ever wondered why so many immigrant groups became Democrats (Italians, Irish, et al, you need wonder no more.

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