Tag Archives: Immigrants
I lament the misfortunes of the persons who have been driven from Cuba to seek Asylum with you. this it is impossible to refuse them, or to withold any relief they can need. we should be monsters to shut the door against such sufferers. true, it is not a population we can desire, at that place, because it retards the desired epoch of it’s becoming entirely American in spirit. no people on earth retain their national adherence longer or more warmly than the French. but such considerations are not to prevent us from taking up human beings from a wreck at sea. gratitude will doubtless secure their fidelity to the country which has recieved them into it’s bosom.
To William C.C. Claiborne, September 10, 1809
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Humane leaders recognize the need to help the helpless.
Claiborne, territorial governor of New Orleans, reported the arrival of about 1,000 poverty-stricken French immigrants, whom Spain had banished from their homes in Cuba.
Jefferson didn’t regard the French as desirable subjects, because they above all other immigrants clung to their native culture. It would take them much longer to assimilate and become “entirely American in spirit.” Regardless, they could not be allowed to perish on the open sea. Only “monsters” would refuse them refuge and relief.
He hoped they would be grateful for the kindness shown and become loyal to their new land.
“I would like to thank you for your wonderfully entertaining speech …”
President, Missouri City Clerks and Finance Officers Association
Mr. Jefferson will entertain your audience … wonderfully!
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
I think it fortunate for the United States to have become the asylum for so many virtuous patriots of different denominations: but their circumstances, with which you were so well acquainted before, enabled them to be but a bare asylum, & to offer nothing for them but an entire freedom to use their own means & faculties as they please.
To Jean Nicholas Demeunier, April 29, 1795
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
The previous post was taken from this letter, too. There, Jefferson advised his French-immigrant correspondent not to seek fulfilling employment with the government because there was none. The private sector held the best prospects.
In this excerpt, Jefferson welcomed the immigrants driven out by the political and warring turmoils of Europe. Demeunier was representative of a privileged class of new arrivals. America offered the exact same opportunity to them that it offered its poorest immigrants, “nothing … but an entire freedom” to better themselves according to their own abilities.