It’s appropriate and admirable that Americans esteem our legendary, monolithic founding fathers. However, none cast quite as long a shadow of excellence as Benjamin Franklin. With controversies plaguing our national conversation, it’s not unusual for Mr. Franklin’s words to be invoked by Democrats for political purpose — except on immigration.
Perhaps it would surprise you to know that the same concerns at the forefront of American thought in 2019 are no different than those of eighteenth century America. Immigration being chief among them. Indeed, the subject of immigration was of such concern to colonial America that our most indispensable and quintessential founding father wrote an entire essay on the subject.
Before we get into that however, take a moment to reflect on who Franklin was. He was a man of great intellectual acuity, wisdom, and integrity — even if he was a bit of a playboy. After the American Revolution had been won, Franklin petitioned congress to end slavery. In 1787 Franklin became the president of the Abolition Society which advocated for the liberty of enslaved African Americans. Naturally, Franklin also freed slaves he had owned.
Admittedly Franklin was partial to the complexion of his country, “for such Kind of Partiality is natural to Mankind” but he was no bigot. That however, didn’t mean he wanted just anyone flooding into his country.
In 1751 Benjamin Franklin wrote an essay titled “Observations concerning the Increase of Mankind, Peopling of Countries, &c.” where he stated the following.
“why should the Palatine Boors be suffered to swarm into our Settlements, and by herding together establish their Language and Manners to the Exclusion of ours? Why should Pennsylvania, 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.“
In Franklin’s time, peoples across Europe and Africa were flooding into the American colonies. The Palatine Boors (German farmer immigrants) were of particular concern to Franklin because they showed little interest in naturalizing into colonial culture.
Today, Franklin’s sentiments are echoed by many Americans. Time may have changed the countries from which the immigrants originate, however the concern of the people is wholly the same. Latin American immigrants unwilling to assimilate into our culture who refuse to abide by our immigration and naturalization laws are of great concern to true United States citizens.
These citizens are the same Americans President Donald Trump resonates with. Shockingly, by exercising the powers granted to him from the “Immigration and Nationality act of 1952” (and subsequent amendments) President Trump draws tremendous criticism for carrying the same position as one of our country’s most prolific authors.
Given this country’s long standing position on rigorous immigration regulation, it shouldn’t be surprising to the logically minded that the Supreme Court upheld Trump’s authority to implement immigration restrictions. If Benjamin Franklin was concerned about American culture being lost to immigrants who refuse to naturalize, perhaps we should be too.