Immigration: What Founding Fathers Of America Thought About It. It’s Foundations of Freedom Thursday where we get to answer questions from you, the listeners! Tune in today as we answer your questions such as what did the Founding Fathers think about immigration, did the Founding Fathers give a reason as to why they did not designate an official language for our country, is religion not allowed in public schools, and so much more, right here on WallBuilders Live!
Air Date: 03/09/2017
Guests: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton
- WallBuilders | American historical events, founding fathers, historical documents, books, videos, CDs, tapes, David Barton’s speaking schedule.
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Transcription note: As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast. However, as this is transcribed from a live talk show, words and sentence structure were not altered to fit grammatical, written norms in order to preserve the integrity of the actual dialogue between the speakers. Additionally, names may be misspelled because of the difficulty in understanding the speaker at times. We apologize in advance.
President Calvin Coolidge said, “The more I study the Constitution, the more I realize that no other document devised by the hand of man has brought so much progress and happiness to humanity. To live under the American Constitution is the greatest political privilege that was ever accorded to the human race.”
No doubt about it. The more we learn about it, the better. That’s what this program today is all about. It’s Foundations of Freedom Thursday here on WallBuilder Live. So, welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture!
We’re talking about these hottest topics on policy, faith, and the culture, always looking at it from Biblical, historical, and constitutional perspective.
We’re here with David Barton. He’s America’s premiere historian, WallBuilders founder, and president, bestselling author, and one of TIME magazine’s top 25 most influential American evangelicals. My name is Rick Green. I’m a former Texas state rep and national speaker and author.
You can find out more about WallBuilders at our website. We have two of them. WallBuilders.com where you can find out a wealth of information and also get lots of great articles, you can dig in deep to the Founding Fathers, and really the foundations of America.
Also WallBuildersLive.com, that’s our radio website. There you can get a list of our stations. You can go back and get archives of programs of the last few weeks and months and a lot of other great information as well.
WallBuilders has been recognized from coast to coast for its work in education, history, law, and public policy, integrating the elements of Biblical faith and morality throughout all aspects of American life and culture.
Questions Are Our Best Tool For Learning
Today we’re going to in those foundations. David, it’s our chance to take questions from the audience, kind of guides our discussion if you will. We get to talk about what they’re interested in.
I love questions. This weekend I was speaking at churches for a Sunday morning service and they actually took questions and answers. That is the most fun time because then you see what’s on people’s minds and that’s where you get the best application of principles.
You get people to start saying, “Ok, I hear this stuff, but now how do you how do you reconcile it with this and how do you do this? And so question-answers are some of the best learning tools that you have, one of the best application tools.
Questions and answers were so much a part of American education. That’s how we used to do things. Progressive’s got away from that in the 1920s. But there’s a lot to be said for asking questions and having to dig in to answer questions.
Well, our first one comes from Debbie in Washington. See if I can pronounce the city right, Tonasket. I don’t know if that’s right or not. David, have you been there before?
I have not. That’s interesting. It’s got to be on the east side of the Cascades, but I’m not sure where, that’s cool.
What Did The Founding Fathers Think About Immigration
Alright, Debbie from Tonasket, Washington. Her question is, “I would like to know what the Founding Fathers decided on immigration to America. If there were certain people, or anybody, from anywhere who could be eligible to become a citizen of the United States of America.”
So great question, basically saying, “Here we are talking about immigration, the pros and cons, and all those things. How should it work today?” Well, what was the Founders view on immigration?
Oh boy, this is fun. The answer I think is not going to be what anybody expects. And let me go back to say, the Declaration, what made it very very significant is that only those things in the Declaration that had unanimous agreement among all 13 states made it into the Declaration.
Thomas Jefferson condemns slavery. It’s just a slam on slavery, but three states objected to that. So that slam on slavery did not make it into the Declaration of Independence even though it’s in the original draft.
So everything that made it in has got 100 percent agreement of all 13 states. And one of the 27 grievances is, we are leaving Great Britain because they’re trying to restrict immigration. They’re trying to limit the immigration into these colonies and we’re not going to put up with that.
Now, that doesn’t sound much like what we would expect today. That attempts to limit immigration would result in, “The Founding Fathers were they pro-immigration?” And the answer is, “Yeah.” But they really went at it in a very different way than we did.
They were absolutely okay with people immigrating from anywhere, but you had certain requirements you had to meet when you got here. They didn’t care what country you came from and that’s why we had so many states like Pennsylvania was almost a German-speaking state. As you get into South Carolina and New York huge segments of French-speaking population. But the deal was that when you got here you went to one language.
You learn the language. You learn the culture. You learn the customs, and as a matter of fact, immigration was very different. In that, the feds didn’t have all that much to do with immigration, the states did. Once you get into the United States you’re not living in the United States, you’re living in Texas, or you’re living in California, or you living in New York, or Missouri, or South Dakota, or wherever. So the state had a lot to say.
Actually, I pulled up a couple of quotes that I think fairly interesting. First off, with immigration and with health care both, deaths, it’s kind of interesting to see what the federal role is.
We Have Documented Proof Of What They Believed
Let me read a Thomas Jefferson quote on what the federal government’s to do with this combination of immigration-health care. He says, “The federal government is to certify with the exact truth for every vessel sailing in from a foreign port. The state of health on that vessel, which prevails from which country she sails. But the state authorities are charged with the care of the public health.”
So the feds get to do health care only for ships carrying immigrants coming to the United States and we see what the health conditions were when they left, what they are when they get here, and everything else belongs to the states on health care. And immigration was very much the same.
We will look overall. There are naturalization standards you have to have when you come to America if you are going to be living in the States. In states like Maryland is a good example. In Maryland, the chief judge of the Supreme Court of Maryland was Samuel Chase in the founding era.
Samuel Chase is a signer of the Declaration and George Washington put him on the U.S. Supreme Court as a justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. Here at WallBuilders in our collection library, we have multiple documents signed by Samuel Chase relating to immigration coming into Maryland.
Come And Assimilate
Let me just read. Here it says, “I Samuel Chase, chief judge of the state of Maryland, do hereby certify all whom it may concern, that on the first day of February in this year 1,790 did personally appear before me, John Lawford.”
He did repeat as a scribe a declaration of his belief in the Christian religion and the oath required by the act of the assembly the state Intitle Act for Naturalization. So Maryland says, “Yeah, you’re welcome come in. But now we do want you to be Christian when you come in.”
Really? Can you imagine that being an immigration requirement today?
And that is from a Founding Father who was on the U.S. Supreme Court put there by George Washington. So the states had control over the kind of people that would live in their state. If you wanted to be in Maryland you need to believe in the Christian religion. Don’t care if you’re Catholic, Protestant, wouldn’t care where you came from. So, there were interesting standards, I guess is what I’m saying.
So back to the question, is there any of the Founding Fathers who didn’t want immigration? Not if you met the standards if you wanted to come here if you wanted to come to the United States and-
Come and assimilate.
You’ve got to assimilate. And that was the big deal, was assimilation. Noah Webster really hit this very hard with what it means to assimilate on immigration, but we can get that after the break.
Alright, we’re going take a quick break. Stay with us. We’ll be right back on WallBuilders Live. It’s Foundations of Freedom Thursday.
Samuel Adams said, “The liberties of our country and the freedom of our civil Constitution are worth defending against hazards. And it is our duty to defend them against all attacks.”
Have you ever wanted to learn more about the United States Constitution but just felt like, man, the classes are boring or it’s just that old language from 200 years ago or I don’t know where to start? People want to know. But it gets frustrating because you don’t know where to look for truth about the Constitution either.
Well, we’ve got a special program for you available now called Constitution Alive with David Barton and Rick Green. It’s actually a teaching done on the Constitution at Independence Hall in the very room where the Constitution was framed. We take you both to Philadelphia, the Cradle of Liberty and Independence Hall and to the WallBuilders’ library where David Barton brings the history to life to teach the original intent of our Founding Fathers.
We call it the QuickStart guide to the Constitution because in just a few hours through these videos you will learn the Citizen’s Guide to America’s Constitution. You’ll learn what you need to do to help save our Constitutional Republic. It’s fun! It’s entertaining! And it’s going to inspire you to do your part to preserve freedom for future generations. It’s called Constitution Alive with David Barton and Rick Green. You can find out more information on our website now at WallBuilders.com.
Thomas Jefferson said, “The Constitution of most of our states and of the United States asserts that all power is inherent in the people that they may exercise it by themselves, that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed. That they are entitled to freedom of person, freedom of religion, freedom of property, and freedom of press.”
Differentiating Ourselves As Our Own Country
Welcome back. Thanks for staying with us here on WallBuilders Live Foundations of Freedom Thursday today. Our first question today from Debbie in Washington had to do with the Founders view on immigration.
David, you were right in the middle of that about to give us some Noah Webster.
Yeah, Noah Webster was so, so much into the nation’s identity, as every other nation is, that he said, “Look, we separate from Great Britain. We need a different language from Great Britain.” Wait a minute, we both speak English.” “Yeah, but we need a different language. We need a wholly American language.”
Wait a minute, we both speak English. Yeah, but we need a different language. We need a wholly American language.
That’s why in his dictionary it says, “The American Dictionary.” And that’s why his spelling books it says, “American Spelling Books.” Everything is built around the identity of the nation to which you go, so what he did was he took British spellings like, “labour” which they still use today. Or favourite, and he said, “We don’t have to spell it that way, we will spell it without the ‘U.”
So, we even created our own spelling, American spelling, so that when you came here we want you to know you are not in Great Britain and you’re not in the rest of the world, you’re in America, and here’s the way we spell words in America.
They wanted you to develop an American identity when you got here. Language is one of those things. People who say, “Oh, we shouldn’t have English only.” Well, wait a minute, that’s how you get a national identity.
Every Immigrant Learned Our Ways
I have talked before about how I’m helping run an organization where we’ve moved about 14,000 folks out of ISIS and we’ve actually moved them across the world. We’ve moved folks into Australia, Brazil, Canada, Slovakia. We’ve moved folks into all these different countries because America wouldn’t accept them under Obama. We couldn’t move Christians in here.
These are all persecuted Christians that we had to move out of ISIS. Every country they go into requires you to take assimilation classes. You have to go in, you have to learn the language, you have to learn Slovakia, and you have to learn Canadian, and I guess that’s a form of English, so you could live in Canada, same with Australia. And then you have customs assimilation classes because even though Canada and Australia both speak English there are very different customs in those countries.
You’ve got to get the “Eh” just right.
Right. So you have these assimilation classes and that is key for every nation to maintain its identity. God is the one who laid out the lines of nations. He tells us that in Acts 17 and other passages. God is the one who ordained nations. He didn’t make it one big globe.
He is the one who laid out the lines of nations and nations all have their own identity. And so as people came in. That’s what we did here. Now, that’s why illegal immigration is so different from legal immigration.
With legal immigration, there’s an attempt to assimilate. Illegal immigration, you come in, there’s no attempt to assimilate, no attempt for language or anything else. And that’s why even in early America where you had different regions that spoke different languages everybody knew English. Everybody could communicate in English, and everybody could conduct business in English, everyone knew English spellings, and everyone knew the customs. And that’s what really becomes important.
We Have Stopped Valuing Assimilation
To this day, as all these people are coming into Israel, and so many of the Jews are now leaving France because France has become so anti-Semitic in the last few years. As they come into Israel they all learn Hebrew. I mean that’s that’s part of being in Israel. And so as they come out of Russia they learn Hebrew, as they come out of Africa they learn Hebrew. That’s the assimilation that goes on across the world.
That’s what we’re not doing is saying, “Hey, America this is a nation and this is what we believe in this nation.” And now that Trump has said, “Well, we’re taking in people who don’t want to assimilate. We’re taking in people who actually are more likely to destroy us, to move in here and tear up the culture. And we need to shut that down so we can get a higher level of vetting making sure that the ones that are coming in do come here to assimilate.”
What’s happened in the modern era, in the last 20 years or so, we’ve gone away from trying to assimilate into Americans and just saying, “Come live here be part of whatever community you want. If you want to create your own lifestyle in Dearborn, Michigan do that.” And so we see all these little different nations popping up among us, Somalians and others. No attempt to try to assimilate into America.
We just think that America is a better place for us to live. But we’re going to keep our own culture. That’s what’s dangerous for a nation is when there’s not an assimilation.
In fact, we had a question, a follow-up question on that from a different listener. Going to take a quick break. We’ll be right back, stay with us folks. You’re listening to Foundations of Freedom Thursday here on WallBuilders Live!
Going to take a quick break. We’ll be right back. Stay with us folks. You’re listening to Foundations of Freedom Thursday here on WallBuilders Live!
Thomas Jefferson said, “The Constitution of most of our states and in the United States assert that all power is inherent in the people that they will exercise it by themselves. That is their right and duty to be at all times armed that they are entitled to freedom of person, freedom of religion, freedom of property, and freedom of press.”
This is Tim Barton from WallBuilders with another moment in American history. In 1963 the United States Supreme Court decided that voluntary Bible reading could no longer be part of the school day.
Founding Father Benjamin Rush, known as the father of public schools under the Constitution, pointedly warned that the Bible should be read in schools in preference to all other books.
He specifically warned that if America ever ceased promoting Biblical principles in schools then we would waste so much time and money and punishing crimes. It takes so little pains to prevent them.
He was right, we now have seven million Americans in prison on probation or on parole. The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world. Sadly, this was unnecessary but is the result of no longer teaching the morals of the Bible in schools.
For more information about the Founding Fathers views on the positive impact of the Bible in schools go to WallBuilders.com
George Washington said, “The Constitution approaches near to perfection than any other government instituted among man.”
To Be Apart Of America Here’s What’s Expected
Welcome back. Thanks for staying with us here on WallBuilders Live Foundations of Freedom Thursday today. So far we’ve been talking about an immigration question from one of our listeners. Another listener, Gordon, asks a follow-up question, kind of the same vein that David, you’ve already touched on in terms of language.
He said, “My question deals with the wisdom and effect of designating the English language as the official language of our country. Going back to the Tower of Babel, we read that God uses different language to divide and separate people into different groups. It seems that different languages continue to separate people today. So did the Founding Fathers give a reason as to why they did not designate an official language for our country and what would be the hindrance to doing so in the current time?”
Well, the reason they did not designate it as an official language would be the same reason the Congress will not pass a law saying, “Don’t jump off the Empire State Building, because if you do, you’ll fall downward rather than upward.”
It was common sense, it was obvious. Everybody knew that. And so that’s why they talked about the importance of knowing English as well we did English dictionaries, English books, and other English things is we knew that had to be.
And as Gordon so rightly pointed out, it was languages that divided. When you had the same language you got so much more done. And when God said, “Hey, you’re getting too much, let’s divide the languages go into different nations.” So we knew that language was a huge key and that’s why we created the American language and that’s why you had to assimilate into the American language not the British language or the Canadian language, but the American language.
You Have To Be Apart Of Uniting
Language is a huge part. Actually, let me read part of the immigration policy we had up through World War II. As World War I was ending we had an influx of immigrants in The United States. As World War II is beginning we got another influx. And on both occasions the chief of naturalization wrote a piece for all the immigrants coming in, saying, “If you want to be part of America here’s what is expected. Here’s what you’re going to do to, assimilate.”
And listen to what he says here. He says, “America was created to unite mankind by those passion which lift and not by the passions was separate and debase. We came to America to get rid of the things that divide to make sure of the things that unite. The American is a man who is greater in his soul than in his class, creed, political party, or the section on which he lives. To be an American, a man must have an American soul and believe in the spiritual reality is upon which America wrestled out of which America was born.”
So, if you’re coming to America you can’t be part of dividing. You have to be part of uniting. You have to you have to be part of where this country is headed. You have to believe in the spiritual realities upon which we’re founded.
It’s Just Common Sense
We did take into consideration spiritual beliefs as you came here. So for Jews and Christians particularly, man, that’s consistent with where America wants to head. Then others they came in, as long as you were not trying to change that culture of America, “Welcome, come on. We give religious freedom to all groups. But don’t come in here and try to separate and divide and don’t come in and try to be your own country in the end.”
That was that was the bottom line philosophy. So they did not have to say, “America is the official English language,” because we used to have common sense. We knew that. And that was just the lesson of history.
The difficulty we have today is we no longer use that same level of common sense and we have to legislate every single thing, which is part of what we see is as a problem with Congress. We can no longer assume people have enough common sense to even know to do certain things.
That’s while on the outside of a shop a router for carving wood it says, “Do not use a dental drill.” Well, who doesn’t know that? And bicycle, on the outside of a new bicycle box and says, “Don’t ride at night without lights.” Well, who doesn’t know that? Well, you can’t assume common sense anymore. That’s why now we have to specify the English language when we did not have to specify it in previous generations.
Going to take a quick break. We’ll be right back, folks, with more of your questions here on WallBuilders Live! By the way, if you’d like to send some in, send the e-mail to [email protected]. We’ll be right back.
Abraham Lincoln said, “We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.”
Hi, friends! This is Tim Barton of WallBuilders. This is a time when most Americans don’t know much about American history or even heroes of the faith. I know, oftentimes for parents, were trying to find good content for our kids to read.
If you remember back in the Bible, the Book of Hebrews it has the Faith Hall of Fame, where they outlined the leaders of faith that had gone before them. Well, this is something that as Americans we really want to go back and outline some of these heroes not just of American history, but heroes of Christianity and our faith as well.
I wonder what you know about some biographical sketches we have available on our website. One is called, The Courageous Leaders Collection and this collection includes people like Abigail Adams, Abraham Lincoln, Francis Scott Key, George Washington Carver, Susanna Wesley, even the Wright brothers.
There’s a second collection called, Heroes of History in this collection you read about people like Benjamin Franklin, Christopher Columbus, Daniel Boone, George Washington, Harriet Tubman, the list goes on and on.
This is a great collection for your young person to have and read. And it’s a providential view of American and Christian history. This is available at WallBuilders.com.
President Calvin Coolidge:
President Calvin Coolidge said, “The more I study the Constitution, the more I realize that no other document devised by the hand of man has brought so much progress and happiness to humanity. To live under the American Constitution is the greatest political privilege that was ever accorded to the human race.”
Significant Religious Expression Taken Out From Schools
Thanks for staying with us today on WallBuilders Live. It’s Foundations of Freedom Thursday. If you enjoy the shows about the Constitution and questions about the Founders on Foundations Freedom Thursday, you can get some of those in our archive section at WallBuildersLive.com from the programs of the last few weeks.
David, we’ve got a question from, I’ll pronounce this one wrong, Otego, New York and it’s from Sean Barnes. Sean says, “Is religion not allowed in public schools? My wife’s a teacher who told me this and I’m trying to research the answer.”
Man, big question. I know you’ve done a lot of research on this David, even written books on it, about religion being allowed in public school.
Well, I’ve got two two answers to that. I’ve got to cynical answer and I’ve got a serious answer. My cynical answer, of course, religion is allowed in public schools. All you have to be is a Muslim, and no problem. You can have anything you want in public schools if you’re of Islamic faith.
On the serious side, yes, religion is allowed in public schools.
And on the practical side, just give a test, and there will be religion. The kids will be praying to themselves, “Please God, help me pass this test.”
Right. At least we hope they still pray for that. So on the serious side, the Supreme Court has issued a number of decisions that have taken out significant religious expression from schools. Voluntary prayer, etc.
You Can Still Have Religion In School
That being said, there are still major ways to have religious expression in schools. One of the things that we’ll do in March is we have a teacher’s conference here WallBuilders where the university professors and teachers and principals, others will be coming here.
Part of what we’ll do is we have premier national legal groups that will show those education folks, “Yeah, here’s what you can do with religion in schools.” And there’s a lot you can do.
There are websites for First Liberty, or Liberty Counsel, or for Alliance Defending Freedom, and others that have sections on what people can do with religion in the schools.
On top of that, currently, there are programs running across the United States. For example, there’s one that you can teach the Bible in schools, with the Bible as the textbook, that’s the textbook you use.
You have twelve hundred school districts and 200 thousand kids going through the Bible in schools and they get elective credit for it in public schools. In Texas, we actually have taken that and said, “In Texas, any school district in Texas if 15 kids asked for that course, you can’t say no.” You have to teach the Bible in public schools as history and literature and you get a credit for it. So that’s one way.
There was a win we had just a couple of weeks ago even in California, called, “Good News Clubs” were that in Good News Clubs, I think this was like 150 or 180 cases won without any losses, allow even teachers to be in charge of evangelism clubs at schools. These are after school clubs and the kids meet there and share faith, etc.
There are lots of ways to do it. It’s easier to do it if it’s student lead and student initiated. If you have kids that start things, for example, after we had the west side Mergens decision and came down, way back in 1990. Over the next three years, nearly 12,000 school district started Bible clubs, prayer clubs, and evangelism clubs on the campuses, and those are all fine.
That was an 8 to 0, unanimous decision by the Supreme Court saying, “It is absolutely fine if the kids want to do this they can do it and they can even do it with sponsors from the school. You can have teachers that are club sponsors and other things and that that’s all fine.”
So there is a lot of ways to do that. You cannot cut religion out of history. For example, a number of states to pass the American Heritage Education Act that says, “You cannot censor historical content based on religious references.” So if you want to read Patrick Henry’s Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death speech, my gosh, he quotes a dozen Bible verses in that.
The same with Franklin’s Call to Prayer at the Constitutional Convention. He quotes 14 Bible verses in that. You can read all of those and you can read the Bible verses because that’s history and you can’t censor out history.
And you can talk about all the great classical music that was Christ centered. You can talk about all the great statues, talked about all the great Renaissance paintings that are all real Christ-centered that’s fine, that’s history.
So what happens today is you get a lot of school board attorneys who tell superintendents and personnel that you can’t do anything with religion. That’s dead wrong. You absolutely can do a lot with religion.
And most of those attorneys, David, we’ve learned from experience, it’s because they’re not experts in First Amendment litigation. They don’t know this stuff. They’ve just got a little dose of it in one class in law school and so their knee jerk reaction is just, “Oh, we’re not supposed to do that.” Or “We’re going to get sued. And so they just clamp down.”
Save Our Culture
And the other thing is, if you don’t do it it makes their job easier because then when Freedom From Religion sends a letter they don’t have to deal with it. If they just go ahead and tell you, “Don’t do any of it, we don’t care whether it’s legal or constitutional or not, it makes our job easier because we don’t have to try to defend it according to the law.”
Which is why it’s so important to have First Liberty Institute, Liberty Counsel, and all these great groups out there. They’ll come alongside you. They’ll get you pamphlets of information, tell you where the lines are, how to do this the right way. And we have all kinds of links at our website for that.
That’s right. And so the bottom line is, yes, you can. Not as much as you used to be able to, but you still can. And don’t let anybody tell you that schools have to be completely secular in their approach. They did not have to be.
In fact, it would be very bad for our culture if they were. We’re already seeing the results of it being too secular and many schools believing that they have to be secular. So getting more religion and frankly, moral absolutes and right and wrong back in our school district is what we desperately need to save the culture.
Thanks for listening today, folks. You can find out more at our websites WallBuilders.com and WallBuildersLive.com. You’ve been listening to WallBuilders Live!
Thomas Jefferson said, “ In questions of power then let no more be heard of confidence in the man that bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.”