University of Virginia Library

3845. IMMIGRATION, Too rapid.—

The present desire of America is to produce
rapid population by as great importations of
foreigners as possible. But is this founded in
good policy? The advantage proposed is the
multiplication of numbers. Now let us sup
pose (for example only) that, in this State,
[Virginia] we could double our numbers in one
year by the importation of foreigners; and this
is a greater accession than the most sanguine
advocate for immigration has a right to expect.
Then I say, beginning with a double
stock, we shall attain any given degree of population
only twenty-seven years and three
months sooner than if we proceed on our single
stock. If we propose four millions and a half
as a competent population for this State, we
should be fifty-four and a half years attaining
it, could we at once double our numbers; and
eighty-one and three-quarter years, if we rely
on natural propagation, as may be seen by the
following table:

Proceeding  Proceeding 
on our present  on a double 
stock.  stock. 
1781  567,614  1,135,228 
1808¼  1,135,228  2,270,456 
1835½  2,270,456  4,540,912 
1862¾  4,540,912 

In the first column are stated periods of
twenty-seven and a quarter years; in the second
are our numbers at each period, as they will
be if we proceed on our actual stock; and in
the third are what they would be, at the same
periods, were we to set out from the double
of our present stock. I have taken the term
of four million and a half of inhabitants for
example's sake only. Yet I am persuaded it
is a greater number than the country spoken of,
considering how much inarable land it contains,
can clothe and feed without a material change
in the quality of their diet. But are there no
inconveniences to be thrown into the scale
against the advantage expected from a multiplication
of numbers by the importation of foreigners?
It is for the happiness of those united
in society to harmonize as much as possible
in matters which they must of necessity transact
together. Civil government being the sole
object of forming societies, its administration
must be conducted by common consent. Every
species of government has its specific principles.
Ours perhaps are more peculiar than those of
any other in the universe. It is a composition
of the freest principles of the English constitution,
with others derived from natural right
and natural reason. To these nothing can be
more opposed than the maxims of absolute monarchies.
Yet from such we are to expect the
greatest number of emigrants. They will
bring with them the principles of the governments
they leave, imbibed in their early youth;
or, if able to throw them off, it will be in exchange
for an unbounded licentiousness, passing,
as is usual, from one extreme to another.
It would be a miracle were they to stop precisely
at the point of temperate liberty. These
principles, with their language, they will transmit
to their children. In proportion to their
numbers, they will share with us the legislation.
They will infuse into it their spirit, warp and
bias its directions, and render it a heterogeneous,
incoherent, distracted mass. I may appeal
to experience, during the present contest,
for a verification of these conjectures. But, if
they be not certain in event, are they not
possible, are they not probable? Is it not safer
to wait with patience twenty-seven years and three months longer, for the attainment of any
degree of population desired or expected? May
not our government be more homogeneous, more
peaceable, more durable? Suppose twenty millions
of republican Americans thrown all of a
sudden into France, what would be the condition
of that kingdom? If it would be more
turbulent, less happy, less strong, we may be


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lieve that the addition of half a million of foreigners
to our present numbers would produce
a similar effect here. If they come of themselves
they are entitled to all the rights of citizenship;
but I doubt the expediency of inviting
them by extraordinary encouragements. I
mean not that these doubts should be extended
to the importation of useful artificers. The
policy of that measure depends on very different
considerations. Spare no expense in obtaining
them. They will after a while go to the
plough and the hoe; but, in the meantime, they
will teach us something we do not know. It is
not so in agriculture. The indifferent state of
that among us does not proceed from a want
of knowledge merely; it is from our having
such quantities of land to waste as we please.
In Europe the object is to make the most of
their land, labor being abundant; here it is
to make the most of our labor, land being
Notes on Virginia. Washington ed. viii, 330. Ford ed., iii, 188.