Hamilton’s Actual Views on Immigration

By | 2016-12-21T08:24:39+00:00 December 21st, 2016|

Not too long ago, the cast of the hit musical “Hamilton” ostentatiously lectured Vice President-elect Mike Pence, who was in attendance, about “diversity” and “American values.” Implicit in these remarks was criticism of the incoming administration’s position on immigration.

But the comments by the “Hamilton” cast miss an important point. Although Alexander Hamilton was himself an immigrant, he was adamantly opposed to the open immigration policies that President Thomas Jefferson proposed in his first annual message to Congress in 1801. Although the incoming president had once opposed unlimited immigration, Jefferson now saw it as a way to secure the future political dominance of his own party over Hamilton’s Federalists.

Hamilton, like most Federalists, was concerned about French influence on American politics. Although the French Revolution had descended into terror and led to the rise of Napoleon, Jefferson and his Democratic-Republican Party persisted in their attachment to the French. Hamilton feared that Jefferson’s proposal for unlimited immigration would lead to the triumph of the radical principles of the French Revolution over those of the more moderate American Revolution.

Writing as “Lucius Crassus,” Hamilton argued: “The safety of a republic depends essentially on the energy of a common national sentiment; on a uniformity of principles and habits; on the exemption of the citizens from foreign bias, and prejudice; and on that love of country which will almost invariably be found to be closely connected with birth, education, and family.”

Invoking Jefferson’s own “Notes on Virginia,” Hamilton observed that “foreigners will generally be apt to bring with them attachments to the persons they have left behind; to the country of their nativity, and to its particular customs and manners.” He argued that “it is unlikely that they will bring with them that temperate love of liberty, so essential to real republicanism.”

Read the rest at the Providence Journal.

About the Author:

Mackubin Owens
Mackubin Thomas Owens is dean of academics for the Institute of World Politics in Washington DC, a Senior Fellow of the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI) in Philadelphia, and editor of Orbis, FPRI’s quarterly journal. He recently retired after 29 years as Professor of National Security Affairs at the US Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. From 1990 to 1997, Dr. Owens was also Editor-in-Chief of the quarterly defense journal Strategic Review and Adjunct Professor of International Relations at Boston University. Owens is the author of Abraham Lincoln: Leadership and Democratic Statesmanship in Wartime (2009) and US Civil-Military Relations after 9/11: Renegotiating the Civil-Military Bargain (January 2011) and coauthor of US Foreign and Defense Policy: The Rise of an Incidental Superpower (2015) and The Evolution of the Executive and Executive Power in the American Republic (2014). Before joining the faculty of the War College, Owens served as National Security Adviser to Senator Bob Kasten, Republican of Wisconsin, and Director of Legislative Affairs for the Nuclear Weapons Programs of the Department of Energy during the Reagan Administration. Dr. Owens is also a Marine Corps veteran of Vietnam, where as an infantry platoon and company commander in 1968-1969, he was wounded twice and awarded the Silver Star medal. He retired as a Colonel in 1994. Owens earned his Ph.D. in Politics from the University of Dallas, a Master of Arts in Economics from Oklahoma University, and his BA from the University of California at Santa Barbara.
  • ricocat1

    Americans should subscribe to Theodore Roosevelt’s view on immigration. America should welcome immigrants from all over the world WHO WISH TO BECOME AMERICANS. Please bring your cuisine and your music but there can only be one language, the English language, and only one flag, the American flag. There should be no hyphenated Americans, only Americans.