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Native Americans

From Brownson’s Quarterly Review for July, 1854


            The subject of native Americanism is one of no little interest at the present moment, and one, however delicate it may be, which, as the conductor of a Catholic review, we cannot very well avoid discussing, even if we would.  It is forced upon us by the movements of our own countrymen, no less then by the movements of our foreign-born population, no small part of whom are Catholics.

            Regarded as a phase of nationality, native Americanism is respectable, and we are very free to confess that we are never pleased to find our own journals sneering at “natives,” although we have as little sympathy as they with what they really intend with these terms.  It is in bad taste, and, although it may please a certain class of their readers, it can hardly fail to be understood in a wider sense than intended, and to give offence to those of their Catholic friends whose grandfathers and grandmothers were American-born.  Nationality is a thing which foreigners are always required to treat with consideration, and it is never prudent, if peace and good-will are desired, to treat it with levity or contempt.  No people in the world have a more intense nationality than our Irish Catholics, or are more sensitive to remarks derogatory to their national characteristics.  No people in the world have, therefore, less right to sneer at the nationality of others.  For ourselves, we respect the nationality of the Irish Catholics, who have left with bleeding hearts the land of their birth, and sought a new home in our native country, and we should be sorry to see them throwing it off and transforming themselves into native Americans the moment they land on our shores; but we do wish them to remember that we Americans, whose ancestors recovered our noble country from the wilderness and the ferocious savage, founded its institutions by their wisdom and virtues, purchased its independence with their treasures and their blood, and sacrificed cheerfully themselves that they might transmit it as the home of rational freedom to their posterity, have ourselves, strange as it may seem to them, a strong feeling of nationality, a tender affection for our native land, and an invincible attachment to American usages, manners, and customs.  After God, our first and truest love has always been, and we trust always will be, for our country.  We love and reverence her as a mother, and prefer her honor to our own, and though as dutiful sons we may warn her of the danger she incurs, we will never in silence suffer her to be vilified or traduced.  While we respect the national sensibility of foreigners, naturalized or resident among us, we demand of them equal respect for ours.

            There is, say what you will, such a thing as American nationality.  It is true that the population of the United States is composed of English, Irish, German, French, Scotch, Dutch, Welsh, Norwegians, Africans, and Asiatics, to say nothing of the aborigines; but the population of English origin and descent are the predominating class, very nearly as much so as in England itself.  They were for the United States as a nation first in the field, the original germ of the American people, and they constitute at least three-fourths of the white population of the country.  They are the original source of the American nationality, the founders of American institutions, and it is through their heart that flows the grand and fertilizing current of American life.  It is idle to deny it, or to be angry with it.  Individuals of other races have done their duty, and deserved well of the country, but only by assimilating themselves to the Anglo-Americans and becoming animated by their spirit.  Other races, as long as they remain distinct and separate, remain foreigners in regard to American nationality, and they do and can participate in that nationality only as they flow in and lose themselves in the main current of Anglo-American life.  Whether it be for good or for evil, the American nationality is and will be determined by the Anglo-American portion of our population.  The speculations of some German writers, that it must ultimately become German, and of some Irish editors that it must ultimately become Celtic, are worthy of no attention.  No nationality here can stand a moment before the Anglo-American.  It is the all-absorbing power, and cannot be absorbed or essentially modified by any other.  This, quarrel with it as you will, is a “fixed fact.”  There is, therefore, no use for any other nationality to strive to preserve itself on our soil, and there is not the least danger that our proper American nationality will be lost.  The American nationality will never be Irish, German, French, Spanish, or Chinese; it is and will be a peculiar modification of the Anglo-Saxon, or, if you prefer, Anglo-Norman, maintaining its own essential character, however enriched by contributions from other sources.

            This is to be considered as settled, and assumed as their starting-point by all immigrants from foreign countries.  They should understand in the outset, if they would avoid unpleasant collision, that they must ultimately lose their own nationality and become assimilated in general character to the Anglo-American race.  The predominating nationality of our country will brook no serious opposition in its own home.  It knocks aside whatever obstacles it finds in its way, and, save so far as restrained by religion and morality, rules as a despot.  It plants itself on its native right, on the fact that it is in possession, and will recognize in no foreign nationality any right to dispossess it or to withstand it.  It is not attachment to American soil, or sympathy with the American nationality, spirit, genius, or institutions, that brings the great mass of foreigners to our shores.  No doubt we derive great advantages from them, but the motive that brings them is not advantage to us or service to our country.  They come here solely from motives of personal advantage to themselves; to gain a living, to acquire a wealth, or to enjoy a freedom denied them in their own country, or believed to be more easily obtained or better secured here than elsewhere.  The country, therefore, does not and cannot feel that it is bound either in justice or in charity to yield up its nationality to them, or to suffer the stream of its national life to be diverted from its original course to accomodate their manners, tastes, or prejudices.  It feels that it has the right to say, in all not repugnant to the moral law: “It is for you to conform to us, not for us to conform to you.  We did not force you to come here; we do not force you to remain.  If you do not like us as we are, you may return whence you came.”  If I from motives of hospitality open my doors to the stranger, and admit him into the bosom of my family, I have the right to expect him to conform to my domestic arrangements, and not undertake to censure or interfere with them.  So it is with a nation, when from hospitality it opens its doors to foreigners exiled from their own country, or voluntarily leaving it to make their fortune.  It will never be pleased to find them forgetting that they are its guests, assuming the airs of natural-born citizens, and proceeding at once to take the management  of its affairs upon themselves, or even volunteering their advice.

            Here, we apprehend, is the secret of native American hostility to foreigners naturalized amongst us.  We naturally regard them as our guests enjoying our hospitality, and though not to our loss, yey chiefly for their own advantage, and we do not and cannot easily bring ourselves to feel that they have the same right to interfere in our national or political affairs that is possessed by natural-born citizens.  In our eyes, as in their own, they always retain something of the foreigner.  If their interference works up no prejudice, and only tends to carry out our own views, we of course accept it, and find no fault with it; but if we find it against us, defeating our plans and thwarting our purposes, we are pretty sure to recollect that they are foreign-born, and to feel that they abuse our hospitality, although they may have violated the letter of no positive law of the country.

            We are divided, and likely to be divided, into two great political parties, very nearly equal in strength.  If, in the contests between these parties, the defeated party finds or imagines that it owes its defeat to the votes of naturalized citizens, who had been induced by the demagogues of the other side to go in a body against it, it very naturally feels its sentiment of nationality offended, and its resentment kindled against these naturalized citizens.  If these citizens form in some respects a party, as it were a people, by themselves, and are found organizing and drilling military companies of their own, with strong foreign sympathies and antipathies, and represented by a press discussing freely and with little moderation all questions of internal and external policy, and circulating almost exclusively among themselves, loudly boasting their ability to throw out or throw in either of the two great parties at will, and to erect or defeat any candidate for the presidency, as he is or is not acceptable to them, an outbreak of native Americanism all over the country is a most natural thing in the world.  If the organs of the foreign party go further, and declaim against native Americanism, vituperate or ridicule, under the name of “nativism,” the strong feeling of nationality which is possessed by every American, denounce it as anti-republican or anti-democratic, claim all that is noble or commendable in our past history, whether in literature or science, art or industry, war or politics, as the work of foreigners, and pour out the accumulated wrath of ages upon the Anglo-Saxon race from which the majority of us have sprung, representing it as incapable of any thing great or good, and as fruitful only in works of darkness, nothing is more likely to result than a storm of native American indignation, that no power in the country will be able to withstand.  It is in human nature, and must be expected, however much we may lament it.

            We speak not here in the interest of natives or of Anglo-Americans, but in that of the foreign population, whether naturalized or simply resident in the country.  The Anglo-Americans are abundantly able to take care of themselves, and if provoked to extreme measures, the population of foreign birth would find themselves wholly at their mercy.  We speak to warn our foreign-born population against provoking a contest with native Americanism, which most assuredly will not result to their advantage.  They must beware of confounding the proper native American feeling with the anti-Catholic feeling.  We ourselves, when first a Catholic, committed that mistake, but we are now convinced, that, however the two feelings may have been combined by the craft of no-popery men, and our own imprudence, they are at bottom essentially distinct, and it is most assuredly in our interest to do all in our power to keep them separate.  The native American feeling, which is the sentiment of nationality, is to some extent allied with the anti-Catholic feeling, we grant; but only because those who have most offended it in late times, are, or are presumed to be, attached to the Catholic religion.  But this is a mere accident.  The native American party commenced against the foreigner long before there were Catholics enough here to alarm the Protestantism of the country, and the first paper started as the special organ of that party was conducted by Catholics, descended on one side at least from an old American Catholic family.  We can assure our Catholic friends, that the sentiment which underlies native Americanism is as strong in the bosom of American Catholics as it is in the bosom of American Protestants.  If the party assumes an anti-Catholic character, the reason is to be found in the craft of the no-popery leaders, and in the opposition manifested to it by Catholic as well as non-Catholic foreigners.

            Our foreign born citizens must permit us to say that they have been imprudent, and have committed some serious mistakes.  It is wrong to claim as a natural right what is really only a boon.  No nation is bound to admit foreigners to all the rights and immunities of natural-born citizens.  Men are naturally attached to their native soil, and on that soil have certain natural and inalienable rights, which the government is bound to recognize and protect; but they do not and cannot carry their rights with them to another country.  If they choose to emigrate, and fix their residence elsewhere, they must accept it subject to such conditions, not repugnant to the jus gentium, as the nation which concedes it sees proper to annex. The nation has the natural right to preserve itself, and that which constitutes it what it is,- its national spirit, genius, usages, manners, and customs,- and therefore has a natural right to guard against any influx of foreigners, which, in its judgment, is incompatible with the maintenance of its identity.  For foreigners to claim as a natural right to be placed on an equal footing with natural-born citizens, is entirely to misinterpret American republicanism, and to assert that abominable doctrine of the solidarity of peoples, maintained by the infamous revolutionists of Europe, and which is incompatible, not only with all regular government, but with all national independence.

            Naturalization being a boon, not a natural and indefeasible right, they who receive it should always be careful not to push the political rights it concedes to their extreme limits.  The country does, and, with the best intentions in the world, always will, draw a line of distinction between them and her own natural-born citizens.  It is not in nature that it should be otherwise.  She will put up without gross offence in the latter, with what she would not tolerate for a moment in the former.  We, although a Catholic, may say hard things against the Anglo-Saxon race, and still be tolerated, though not so readily as if we were Protestant, because it is well known that we belong to that race ourselves, and do not hesitate to avow it in the face of our Celtic friends; but let a naturalized citizen of another race do it, and even our own American blood would boil with indignation.  A man may scold his own wife, for she is his, and it is all in the family; but let a stranger attempt the same thing, and the husband, if half a man, will knock him down, or at least turn him out of doors, with a significant kick behind, not likely soon to be forgotten.  An Irishman may say what he pleases against his countrymen, provided he does not separate himself from them, and still retain his standing with them; but let an Englishman or an Anglo-American say a tithe as much, and he will have the whole Irish nationality about his ears.  All this is human nature, and is to be expected.  We love the Irishman all the better for it, and our heart is drawn out to him when we find him, in the ardor of his nationality and the tenderness of his patriotic affection, addressing his country as his mistress, laying his heart at her feet, or pressing her to his bosom.  But since it is natural, it should teach our naturalized citizens to be on their guard against wounding American national sensibility, which is perhaps as delicate and as intense as their own, and that there are certain liberties which in common prudence a stranger-born may not take.  They may vote at elections freely, according to their own honest convictions, but they may not make themselves violent partisans, and enter with ardor into the heated action and envenomed contests of political parties.  They may be voters, but not convassers.  A certain moderation, a prudent reserve, in the exercise of their franchises is expected of them, and they cannot go the lengths they might if natural-born citizens, without giving serious offence. 

            We tell our foreign journalists and politicians, and we do so the more readily because they know that we are the friend, not the enemy, of the foreign population of our country, that they push the pretensions of their constituents to an extreme which American nationality will not tolerate.  We warned them years ago against engaging, even for their own defense, in the controversy excited by the native American party.  They cannot do it without making matters much worse for their countrymen.  Their words, even when well meant and true enough at bottom, produce an effect which they do not intend, because they do not fully know us, and because their own hearts do not beat with the pulses of our American life.  They speak not our language with the national accent.  Never Irish patriot made a greater blunder than did Thomas Mooney, when he recommended his countrymen to make presents of his History of Ireland to their American friends.  Nothing would more prejudice the Irish character in the American mind than the general study of that book.  Most of the books, pamphlets, discourses, and journals designed to vindicate the Irish character of the American public produce a contrary effect to what was intended or expected.  What the Irish should aim at is not to excite pity for the misfortunes of their country, or tears for the wrongs they have for so many ages endured.  The restoration of a nation is hopeless when it can only boast a greatness that has passed away, or chant, though never so sweet and musical, a wail of sorrow.  The world lives in the present; it cares little for a glory which has set, and though it may be momentarily affected by a pathetic lament, it looks only to what a people is and can do here and now.  The rank of a nation is determined in the world’s estimation, not by what is has been, or would have been were it not for the ruthless invader or the heavy hand of the oppressor, but by the energy and manliness of character it still retains.  Who not of Irish descent cares for Tara’s ruins, or Brian Boru?  Let the Irishman of today prove that he could be a Brian Boru, win the battle of Clontarf, or restore those ruins, and strike anew the harp in Tara’s halls, and the world will honor him.  Till then, to boast or whimper is alike useless.  We speak not in justification of the world; we merely tell what it is, and how it judges.  It esteems men and nations only for what they are to it, and can do in its work.

            Our readers will not misinterpret us.  We mean nothing against the Irish character at home or abroad.  For the Irish personally we have a strong affection, and to Irish Catholics, illustrious prelates, venerable clergy, and intelligent laity, we are under heavy obligations, both as a reviewer and as a lecturer, and we are bound to them by the strong tie of religion, the strongest tie we know, as well as by the ties, not weak with us, of gratitude, respect, and friendship.  We know well the Irish Catholics of the United States, and that the great body of them are most grossly misunderstood and most vilely slandered by our no-popery countrymen.  The great majority of them are quiet, modest, peaceful, and loyal citizens, adorning religion by their faith and piety, and enriching the country by their successful trade or their productive industry.  But it cannot be denied that hanging loosely on to their skirts is a miserable rabble, unlike any thing which the country has ever known of native growth, - a noisy, drinking, and brawling rabble, who have, after all, a great deal of influence with their countrymen, who are usually taken to represent the whole Irish Catholic body, and who actually do compromise it to an extent much greater than good Catholics, attentive to their own business, commonly suspect, or can easily be made to believe.

            Nevertheless, Irish Catholics, though constituting a large portion, do not by any means constitute the whole of the foreign-born population of the country, and we are now considering the whole, not a particular class of that population.  The immigration into the country last year was greater from Germany than from Ireland, and probably as many non-Catholics are now coming as Catholics.  The principal hostility to native Americanism has been manifested against Irish Catholics, partly because the popular feeling of the country is anti-Catholic, partly because they have less than others in common with the American national character, and partly because they come in more immediate contact with our countrymen, and are represented by journals in the English language.  But the question is not, and will not be, confined to them.  It will soon be that the most dangerous class of immigrants are the non-Catholics from the continental states of  Europe,- Germans, Hungarians, and Italians, imbued with the infidel and anarchical principles of the mad European revolutionists, and carrying on amongst us their machinations against legitimate authority and social order in a language which very few of our countrymen are able to understand.  These are likely to cause us serious danger, and it may well be a question with loyal Catholics not yet naturalized, whether it were not wiser or more for their interests to be themselves excluded from citizenship, than that these should be placed on a footing of equality with natural-born citizens. 

            The danger to our country, and of course to us as Catholics, whose only reliance is on the maintenance of the supremacy of law, comes, as we never cease to repeat, from radicalism, from pushing the democratic tendency of the country to an extreme incompatible with the maintenance of necessary and wholesome authority; and radicalism, though now countenanced by a large number of natural-born citizens, is not of American origin.  The real Anglo-American people are staunch, uncompromising republicans, and prefer death to slavery; but they are naturally sober in their views, moderate in their demands, and loyal in their hearts.  They are naturally an orderly and law-abiding people.  They are not loyal to men, but are loyal to law, and no people are better disposed to understand and respect the laws.  In declaring and winning their national independence, they attempted no Utopia; they sought in their institutions to guard alike against the despotism of authority and the license of the subject.  In all they did there was a wise moderation, a sobriety, and a good sense, which proved that they had in them the elements of a great, free, and noble people.  In this respect, there is a marked difference between them and every considerable class of immigrants, except those of the old English stock.  The Irish, owing to the fact of their having been for ages in a state of hostility to their government, to their never having regarded the government of England over their country as legitimate, or her laws as binding upon them in conscience, have never acquired the American respect for law as civil enactment; and though loyal by nature, they require the law to be embodied in a person, and represented by a chief.  We see this in their tendency to group around an individual, and to follow blindly the leader who chances for the moment to possess their confidence.  They are republican in their convictions, no people more so; but they retain in their interior life many of the habits which belonged to them when Ireland was ruled by chieftans, and each sept or clan followed to the depth the banner of its chief.  The Germans have been accustomed to regard their princes as the living law, and when they escape from this authority, if not Catholics, they lose their respect for the laws, become wild democrats, and favor either the despotism of the state or the unrestricted freedom of the individual, and are socialists or anarchists.  But whatever the doctrines they avow, or the real convictions of their minds, it must be conceded that the great body of foreigners naturalized or simply resident among us are not republican in their spirit, their interior habits, and their interior life and discipline.  They have not that inward and abiding sense of the state, of law in the abstract, and of liberty with authority, which is so essential to practical as distinguished from theoretical republicanism.  Hence their invariable tendency to confound republicanism with democracy, and democracy with radicalism.  They lack practical republican training.  You feel it the moment you begin to converse with them, and it is the want of this interior republican discipline in uneducated Catholic immigrants that strengthens the suspicion that Catholicity is incompatible with republicanism,- a suspicion both unjust and ridiculous, for the defect under a republican point of view is the result of their previous political, not of their religious life.

            Now whoever knows the history of our country knows that the radicalism from which it has so much to apprehend has been favored by the mass of foreigners poured in upon us.  It was at a very early day powerfully seconded, we may almost say introduced, by Protestant Irishmen from the North of Ireland.  The editors who so disgraced the Republicans in their contests, at the close of the last century and the beginning of the present, with the old Federal party,  honored by being the party of Washington and Adams, were for the most part Irishmen, who had caught their inspiration from French Jacobinism, and not being able to fasten it upon their own country, came hither to blast with its sirocco breath the rich promises of our young republic.  In later years, congregated in our larger cities, and spread along the lines of our public works, the foreign colonists have been the ready resource of violent partisans and unprincipled demagogues, whether native or foreign born, and have become so important an element in our political warfare, that we had the mortification in the last presidential election to see both parties make the question turn on which should secure the foreign vote.  Here is the real danger that rouses up the native American spirit.

            We do not, of course, charge this dangerous radical tendency exclusively nor chiefly to Irish Catholics; but they must permit us to say that they have unintentionally contributed in former times, and to some extent are still contributing their share to the danger.  The Catholic religion is conservative, alike opposed to despotism and to license, and well-snstructed Catholics, who are governed by their Catholic convictions, and act from deliberation, always maintain a noble independence, and give no countenance, direct or indirect, to radicalism; but there has been poured in upon us an impulsive and uninstructed mass, without the first elements of a political education, imbued with exaggerated nations of liberty, and incapable of applying the great principles of their religion to their politics, who are easily used by demagogues, of their countrymen as well as ours, to secure the election of candidates unfit to be elevated, and to support measures fraught with imminent danger to the country.  The great mass of the twenty thousand subscribers to that ribald sheet called The Irish American, if so many it has, are nominally Irish Catholics, and no doubt nine-tenthhs of the forty-five thousand who are said to have subscribed for The Citizen, to be conducted by that Protestant radical, John Mitchell, were also Irish Catholics, who in large numbers are ready to follow any radical, if an Irish radical, or one who can skillfully appeal to their cherished feelings as Irishmen; and Irish Catholics, we presume, are the chief supporters of the so-called Catholic Standard, published at San Francisco, and which is so utterly radical that we refuse to take it from the post-office.  As long as these facts stare us in the face, it is idle for our Irish Catholic friends to pretend that they are contributing nothing to strengthen the dangerous radical tendency of the country.  They do it by the facilities they afford to the machinations and intrigues of demagogues, not, we readily admit, by their radical convictions or intentions.

            The great body of the German Catholics, as far as we are informed, are a quiet, peaceable, and industrious portion of our population, and are by no means noisy and brawling politicians.  Whether they generally vote Whig or Democrat, we know not, and care not; but we are as assured that they are in general conservative in their views and feelings.  But the non-Catholics Germans are among the worst radicals in the country.  Some of their journals are among the vilest that can be imagined, and some of their associations avow doctrines the most horrible.  It is not from Catholic but from non-Catholic foreigners, that comes the principal danger to our institutions.  Who got up the Bedini riots in our principal cities, which last winter disgraced our country at home and abroad, and which the secular press dared not oppose, lest it should lose for its candidates the foreign vote?  They were foreigners, principally German infidels and Italian patriots.  Now, without the elements furnished us by foreign immigration, we should never have had a population of a character which could have given occasion to the demagogic and radical spirit to rise to its present alarming height.  When this is considered, and also that our country has become, as it were, a refugium peccatorum of all nations, to which all the miscreants of Europe may flock and carry on their war against the peace of nations and social order, mingle foreign politics with our own, and make the merits of candidates depend on their views of O’Connell, Kossuth, Smith O’Brien, Kinkel, Mazzini, Ledru-Rollin, Louis Napoleon or Francis Joseph, Nicholas of Russia or the sultan of Turkey, it can surprise no one that there should be in our midst a powerful native American party, filled with hostility to foreigners.  It is no more than what we saw in England herself with regard to French Protestant refugees in the time of Queen Anne.  When we consider that a foreign population at the rate of quarter of a million or more annually is poured in upon us, with foreign manners, foreign tastes, usages, and habits, and by far the larger part of them imbued with erroneous nations of our institutions, and prepared to push democracy to extreme radicalism, few of us can deny that there is at least some cause for apprehension, especially since our natural-born citizens are already to a fearful extent animated by an ultra-democratic spirit.  There is a real danger that it will not do either to deny or to disguise; but which must be bravely met in some way, if we are to remain a model republic, a well-ordered republic, and not degenerate into the government of the mob.

            But how to meet the difficulty is no easy problem to solve.  While we defend the sentiment of American nationality, and are so far on the side of native Americanism, we must utterly repudiate the native American party, so called, for its real leaders are foreigners, mostly apostate or renegade Catholics of the Padre Gavazzi stamp.  These vile European vagabonds have seized upon the honest native American and republican sentiment of the country, and have sought to convert it to a mere anti-popery sentiment.  Driven to desperation in their war against the church, which they hate because they have vilely slandered and abused her, and fallen under her censure, they seek arms for their malignant passions in the deep love which every free-born American has for his country, and unhappily they have been but too successful.  These men, the veritable chiefs of the present native American party, care not a straw for American interests, or genuine American sentiment, and further than they can use them for their own base and malignant purposes.  It is really a foreign party, and therefore, as American as well as Catholics, we disavow it.

            The native American party so called takes too low and too narrow a view of the question.  It is itself animated by a radical spirit, and is hand and glove with foreign radicals.  It does not plant itself on the high ground of real Americanism, and defend itself on the ground of the right of a nation to preserve its own national character, but it takes its stand on the ground that the public has the right to determine what shall or shall not be the religion of individuals, which is false in principle, inconsistent with religious liberty, and repugnant to the constitution and the true American spirit, which places all religions on the footing of perfect equality.  It has no principle on which it can stand, and it finds itself under the necessity, in the first place, of asserting the right of the state to subject religion to itself, the spiritual to the temporal, and, in the next place, of opposing itself to religious liberty, even while professedly contending for it.  To deny to Catholics the free enjoyment of their religion in the name of religious liberty, is a little too glaring a contradiction for these times, and will not be very extensively swallowed by the American people, as much as the majority of them may hate Catholicity.  They are too logical and straightforward for that.

            Then, again, the party not only discriminates between foreigners, but it discriminates badly, with its eyes shut, or blinded, and under the influence of fierce and ignoble passions.  It does not direct its opposition to foreigners in general, but to Catholic foreigners in particular, that is, from the only class of foreigners from whom very little if any danger is to be apprehended.  The really Catholic portion of our foreign population, whether Irish or German, are at present the most conservative body in the country.  They have principle, they have conscience, and when shown the right, may be relied upon to pursue it.  In their religion, which is a living and informing principle within them, the country has the best of all guaranties that, in proportion as they learn the real nature of our institutions and the real interests of the American people, they will demean themselves as good and loyal citizens.  It supplies in them, and even more than supplies, the want of republican discipline, and, if they sometimes say or do things which are not in accordance  with that wise and moderate republicanism which is the boast of the country, it must be set down, not to their religion, but to their original national character, and the influences of the circumstances under which their characters were originally formed.  It is precisely non-Catholic, and merely nominal Catholic foreigners, the pets of our demagogues, who threaten the peace and order of the country; because, not recognizing, or disregarding the restraints of religion, and freed from the authority of the chiefs or princes they were brought up to obey, they imagine that they are free from all authority, and forget that the people here, though in a collective capacity sovereign, are yet individually as much subject to the laws as the people in any state of Europe.  They are thus prone, on coming here, to lapse into the character of anarchists.  The only fault to be found with Catholic foreigners is, that they suffer themselves to be influenced and guided, not by their religion, but by their non-Catholic and revolutionary countrymen.  Hence, all the danger comes primarily from the non-Catholic class, and these, if we are to discriminate at all, are the class against whom we should discriminate.  They are a really dangerous class, because they have no religion to supply their want of respect for simple political authority as such, or to restrain them by a sense of duty to God and their neighbor, in submission to the constituted authorities and laws of the country.

            The evil, whatever it be, would be increased, not diminished, by refusing naturalization to Catholic immigrants, and continuing it to those who are not Catholics; for the Catholic naturalized citizens even now, to a considerable extent, neutralize the influence of non-Catholic naturalized citizens, and will be found every year doing it to a still greater extent.  We recollect when almost every Catholic journal in the country, if it alluded to politics at all, was radical, or tending to ultra-democracy; now there is not one, with the exception of  the Catholic Standard in California, that, though republican, is not strongly conservative in the good sense of the term, and the majority of them are conducted by natural-born American citizens. No journals in the country can compare with them in fearless American independence, and energetic assertion of genuine American principles;- we mean the principles entertained by the fathers of our republic, and incorporated into our institutions.  During the popular commotions in Europe, they for the most part took the side of liberty and order, against social disorder, mad revolutionists, and despotism in the state, whether the despotism of the monarch or of the mob.  You never find the Catholic press, properly so called, advocating any of the popular humbugs of the day; you never see it availing itself of any momentary popular excitement to advance its cause.  It sustains the Union by opposing nullification, state rights by  opposing the abolition fanaticism, and individual liberty by refusing to advocate the sumptuary legislation clamored for by our swarms of philanthropists.  We do not pretend that our Catholic press is all that it should be, we are far from saying that it is faultless, but we are not ashamed of it, and the country ought to be proud of it, for it is governed by principle and is the only really free and independent press in the republic.  This press, if you will study it honestly, candidly, tells you what course will be pursued hereafter by the great body of our Catholic population, whether native or foreign-born.  Now disfranchise Catholics, and naturalize non-Catholics, and you will only aggravate a million-fold the evil you profess to complain of.

            The multiplication of dioceses, churches, and priests, which so alarms a portion of our countrymen, is only a new pledge of security to the country.  It increases the piety and intelligence of the Catholic community, brings them more immediately under the influence of religion, and protects them from the demoralizing and dangerous influence of demagogues.  If the conservative portion of the old American population were as wise as they think themselves, they would contribute literally to the erection of Catholic churches wherever there is a Catholic population.  Give us in this city churches and priests enough for the Catholic population, and all those things which now offend American taste and prejudice would soon disappear, as far as with the ordinary frailty of human nature can be expected.  The effort to Americanize by protestantizing foreign-born Catholics, even in a political and social point of view, is unwise.  Catholics who abandon their religion usually become infidels, and if they profess Protestantism, it is little better.  They never become good citizens, any more than good Christians.  By this native American hostility to them as Catholics, and these constant efforts to proselyte, you compel them to retain as long as possible their old national character and customs, to congregate together as a distinct and separate people, to found schools of their own, and, as far as possible, to live apart.  Once frankly accept them as Catholics, and let them feel that they can Americanize without apostatizing, and you will find that just in proportion as their religious wants are supplied will diminish all danger to be apprehended from them.  True, in this way Catholicity may become strong in the country, and native-born Americans like ourselves may, through the mercy of God, become Catholics; but that is a matter with which politicians or statesmen, as such, have nothing to do, for no one is or can be forced to become a Catholic, and every one has a natural right to become a Catholic, if he choose, without leave asked or obtained from the country.

            Still, as Catholics, we are not disposed to offer any opposition to native Americanism, if it is the will only to be impartial, and not discriminate against us.  If it chooses to repeal the naturalization laws, and enact that hereafter no person not born in the country, or of American parents temporarily resident abroad, shall have the right to vote in our elections, or be eligible to any office, but conceding the full rights of citizens to all born in the country, without regard to the nationality of their parents, we shall ourselves offer no opposition.  The true policy for every republican country, we believe, is to confine suffrage and eligibility to natural-born citizens, although it should ordinarily render naturalization, so far as civil as distinguished from political citizenship is concerned, as easy as possible.  If the framers of our government had contemplated such an influx of foreigners as we have witnessed for the last few years, we think they would have confined the political rights of citizenship, suffrage, and eligibility, to natural-born citizens.  There would have been no hardship to foreigners in this: there would be no hardship in doing so now to those not already naturalized, because no foreigner can claim these rights as a natural right.  The immigrant could not then, indeed, hope to be a voter or an office-holder himself, but he could acquire and transmit real estate, enjoy the protection of the laws and the peace and prosperity of the country, and be consoled by knowing that his children would be citizens, and placed politically on equal footing with others.  To Catholics this would be no advantage, and not a few of them think so, since they manifest in general but a slight disposition to be naturalized, as we have found by experience.  It would, if it had been adopted in the beginning, have saved them from the pernicious influence of both foreign and domestic demagogues, and spared them both the cajolery and the hostility of political partisans.  Catholics not naturalized, providing the law is so altered to give them, after suitable declarations, the civil rights of citizens, may well consent to forego those political rights now extended to all naturalized citizens, if by so doing they can save the country from the corrupt mass of non-Catholic foreigners who are doing their best to ruin it. 

            Yet we do not apprehend, as we do not advocate, any material change in our naturalization laws, and the real evil we have designated must be endured, or left for time and the chapter of accidents, or more properly to Providence, to cure.  In the mean time, we beg our naturalized citizens and foreign residents to bear in mind that the native American sentiment is but the sentiment of American nationality, and that it is their duty as well as their interest to respect it, and not to ridicule and vituperate it.  If they find it necessary to oppose the miserable party which just now affects to be native American, they should take care to oppose it for its hostility to our religion, not for its nativism.  They must study to avoid, as far as possible, wounding the national sensibility, or adopting modes of action or expression likely to offend it.  Let them not make their home an arena for fighting the battles of the country they have left; let them organize no military companies composed exclusively of foreign-born citizens; let them publish no journals, and organize no associations for political purposes to be effected in foreign countries.  These things give offence, and not unreasonably, to the national feeling; they are not right, and may at a critical moment prove most embarrassing to the government.

            On the other hand, we would say to our countrymen that they would do well to begin by checking the demagogical spirit in themselves, and to be less untrue to our own American institutions.  It is their fault, if they have allowed foreign radicals to corrupt them; and if danger is threatened, it is because they have lost the integrity and sobriety of our fathers.  Let them remember that it is unreasonable to expect foreigners to be transformed at once into Americans; that nationality is a stubborn thing, and is not worn out in a day, or in a single generation; that the nationality, the usages, manners, and customs, which offend us in foreign immigrants, are in themselves as respectable as our own, and that much can easily be pardoned to a poor people who have for ages been oppressed by tyrannical or incapable governments.  Let them reflect on the immense advantage to material prosperity which we have gained by this influx of foreigners which alarms them.  The foreign population, undeniably, has its faults, its vices even; but, though different, they are not greater than our own, often not so great.  The Irish, for instance, greatly scandalize us by their habit of exposing, instead of concealing, their vices.  The Yankee holds that cleanliness is akin to godliness, and he cannot go into the Irish quarter of the city without feeling that its denizens must be a vile and immoral set, because not more cleanly.  He cannot believe that virtue and dirt can be found in the same habitation.  Yet Americans of the same class, following the same pursuits, are really less cleanly then the Irish.  The Irishman drinks, unhappily he drinks to his own injury; and when he drinks, it must be a social affair, for he is never satisfied with a solitary glass.  He gets excited, rushes into the street, makes a noise, perhaps gets up a “peaceable fight,” knocks down the policeman, or breaks the head of his wife, not more sober than he.  All this is shocking, inexcusable, and we cry out against the drunken Irish, against the priests, the bishops, the nuns, the Jesuits, and the pope.  God forbid that we should defend it, but the difference between them and us, after all, is only a difference of manner.  We do just as bad, or perhaps worse, only not precisely in the same way, or with a little more external decorum, with more regard for appearances.  Our eyes are open to their vices, and closed to our own.  There are more violations of external decency and the petty police in Broad than in Beacon Street, and more real, solid, and abiding virtue.  It is east to declaim against the poor, uneducated Irish crowded together in our large towns, and to find much among them that is really annoying; but it is very difficult to go among these same poor Irish people, into their houses, and enter into familiar and kindly conversation with them, and not come away charmed.  Even at worst, there is a mellow spot in the Irishman’s heart, and he has the secret of finding the mellow spot in your own, if you have one.  Place the same number of Anglo-Americans in the same position of these poor and reviled Irish people, subject them to the same privations and the same usage, and we should find a difference not at all flattering to our national vanity.  Out from these narrow lanes, blind courts, dirty streets, damp cellars, and suffocating garrets, will come forth some of the noblest sons of our country, whom she will delight to own and to honor.  Reflect on this, my countrymen, and reflect that the children of the foreign population will grow up native Americans, and you may well moderate your feelings against them.  They are too numerous to be massacred, too numerous to be driven from the country, and native Americans, we hope, have too much self-respect, if nothing else, to seek to make them bond-slaves.  The immigration will soon cease or be greatly diminished, and in a few years the foreign population will be assimilated to the native.  So, after all, with mutual forbearance, the evil will gradually disappear.