All posts tagged: Immigration

All Men Are Created Equal, Except . . .

Abraham Lincoln wrote a letter in 1855 to Joshua F. Speed that became famous for the future president’s stand against the anti-immigration Know-Nothing Party. Lincoln and Speed met during the 1830s and remained friends even though their views differed on slavery. Speed grew up on a plantation and owned slaves. A turning point in Lincoln’s life that rekindled his interest in politics was the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854, repealing the Missouri Compromise of 1820 and opening the territories to slavery. It was in this context that the 1855 letter was written. In referring to the nativist Know-Nothing Party—which came out of a secret society in the 1850s and was primarily anti-Catholic, xenophobic, and hostile to immigration—Lincoln used his letter to make his point of view very clear: “I am not a Know-Nothing. That is certain. . . .Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we begin by declaring that ‘all men are created equal.’ We now practically read it ‘all men are created equal, except …

Save ALL Of Ellis Island

Last week I was in New York and had the opportunity to tour the South Side of Ellis Island. It was my first trip to this evocative place where as many as 40% of Americans can trace their initial experience in this country.  From the Save Ellis Island website, here are the basic facts: The Ellis Island Immigration Station opened on Ellis Island in January of 1892. It served as the primary immigration center for the United States from 1892 until 1954 when it was closed. Facilities were built to house and feed immigrants while they waited for their identification papers to be processed. A state-of-the-art hospital complex treated and cured most sick immigrants in order for them to be permitted entry into the country. More than 12 million immigrants passed through Ellis Island between 1892 and 1954, reaching a peak of 1.25 million in 1907. It has been estimated that 40% of Americans today can trace at least one ancestor’s entry into the United States through Ellis Island. It is the early twentieth-century state-of-the-art …