founded by the English, become a Colony of Aliens, who will
shortly be so numerous as to Germanize us instead of our
Anglifying them, and will never adopt our Language or
Customs, any more than they can acquire our Complexion."
Those fears proved unfounded, as Pennsylvania never did turn
into a Teutonic colony and descendants of its early German
settlers assimilated fully.
The same proved true for the Italians who were part of an
unprecedented tide of immigration in the early part of the
20th century. Like the Mexicans of today, Italian immigrants
were drawn to America in response to changing economic
conditions in their own countries; rural sectors were
becoming commercialized and farming jobs were disappearing.
And like the Mexicans, Italians who came to America were
perceived as low-skilled and distressed communities.
Newspaper editorial pages warned that their children would
not fare well in school because of language and cultural
Yet Italians, like the Germans before them, wove their
way into the American fabric. Their children learned English
and graduated high school. Their grandchildren never learned
Italian and graduated college. There is nothing to suggest
that their Hispanic counterparts today will not follow suit.
— Maureen Downey, for the editorial board (firstname.lastname@example.org)
"In short unless the stream of their importation could be
this to other colonies, as you very judiciously propose,
they will soon so out number us, that all the advantages we
have will not in My Opinion be able to preserve our
language, and even our Government will become precarious."
— Benjamin Franklin, writing about German immigrants in
"... that you will not vote, nor give your influence for
any man for any office in the gift of the people, unless he
be an American-born citizen, in favor of Americans ruling
America, nor if he be a Roman Catholic."
— Part of the oath taken by members of the
anti-immigrant, anti-Catholic Know Nothing Party in 1850s
"I endeavored to show that the South could not be the
gainer by this flood of foreign immigration. ... I contended
that the South, if she were mindful of her interests and
safety, should unite to prevent such dangerous additions to
— Letter to constituents in 1855 from Percy Walker,
Know-Nothing Alabama congressman
"Americans must rule America; and to this end native-born
citizens should be selected for all state, federal, and
municipal offices of government employment, in preference to
— From the 1856 political platform of presidential
candidate Millard Fillmore
"The question to-day is, not of preventing the wards of
our almshouses, our insane asylums, and our jails from being
stuffed to repletion by new arrivals from Europe; but of
protecting the American rate of wages, the American standard
of living, and the quality of American citizenship from
degradation through the tumultuous access of vast throngs of
ignorant and brutalized peasantry from the countries of
eastern and southern Europe."
— Francis A. Walker, influential economist and president
of MIT, in The Atlantic Monthly, 1896
"Every immigrant who comes here should be required within
five years to learn English or leave the country."
— Theodore Roosevelt, 26th president, 1901-1909
"... and see endless streets crowded with the shacks of
illiterate, diseased, pauperized Mexicans, taking no
interest whatever in the community, living constantly on the
ragged edge of starvation, bringing countless numbers of
American citizens into the world with the reckless
prodigality of rabbits."
— An 1928 editorial against the Mexicanization of America
in the Saturday Evening Post
"Many persons who have spoken and written in favor of
restriction of immigration, have laid great stress upon the
evils to society arising from immigration. They have claimed
that disease, pauperism, crime and vice have been greatly
increased through the incoming of the immigrants. Perhaps no
other phase of the question has aroused so keen feeling, and
yet perhaps on no other phase of the question has there been
so little accurate information."
— Jeremiah Jenks and W. Jett Lauck in a 1912 report for
the United States Immigration Commission