Speeches About Immigration

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Calvin Coolidge, 1923

In 1923, Calvin Coolidge made his first address to congress. In this speech, Coolidge discussed his views on every issue facing America, including immigration. Coolidge states that he believes that “America needs to stay American,” which was a very common belief at the time. Written two years after the passing of the Emergency Immigration Act of 1921, Coolidge’s speech depicts the feelings of most of America at the time. This speech shows nativism by expressing how Americans in this period believed that their country was superior, and that immigrants were not good enough for it (Hing 1997). By continuing to enforce the immigration acts, Coolidge showed his nativist views of foreign people. As the leader of the country, Coolidge was a very influential and prominent person. With the president continuing the cycle of nativism, American citizens agreed, and continued to express nativist views and actions to immigrants.

New arrivals should be limited to our capacity to absorb them into the ranks of good citizenship. America must be kept American. For this I purpose, it is necessary to continue a policy of restricted immigration. It would be well to make such immigration of a selective nature with some inspection at the source, and based either on a prior census or upon the record of naturalization.

Link to full speech: https://www.coolidgefoundation.org/resources/speeches-as-president-1923-1929/

Ellison DuRant Smith, 1924

As the extension of the Emergency Immigration Act of 1921 was set to expire in June of 1924, a debate was held in April of 1924 in order to discuss what was to be done once the extension was over. This speech, written by Senator DuRant Smith, argues against immigration, stating that closing the “doors” of America to outside countries was best for the survival of the nation. This speech, written only a few months after Calvin Coolidge’s inaugural address is consistent with the President’s remarks, arguing for greater restriction on Immigration. This source backs up nativist beliefs from the 1920s, expressing concern for the stability of America if immigration levels were to return to what they were prior to the passing of the immigration acts. This source shows a connection to nativism, and shows the beliefs of the people in power, the ones passing the laws (Wolfensberger 2007). Despite the beliefs of American citizens, the people in control were also struggling with the topic of allowing immigrants into the country, creating a national dilemma (Hing 1997).

The time has arrived when we should shut the door. We have been called the melting pot of the world…I think that we have sufficient stock in America now for us to shut the door, Americanize what we have, and save the resources of America for the natural increase of our population.

Link to full speech: http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/5080