What would our Founders say and do…Posted: May 10, 2013
“What would the Founders say or do”?
Like most of the founding generation there existed two major features: First, America should generously welcome people from many nations and religions. Second, the numbers and kinds of immigrants may need to be limited with a view to the qualities of character required for democratic citizenship.
Let’s look at these two preconditions with a measured degree of critical thinking. First, we need to look at who is immigrating to the country and for what reasons. Yet even before examining these various reasons, what we need to do is to take a brief look or perception of what the world looked like during that period in history.
Let there be no mistake about it – many modern day scholars and academia’s have been tirelessly annoyed with the silences and the contours of the U.S. Constitution. In other words, very typical of humankind when an answer is sought yet there is little to be found addressing it, legal minds and history chroniclers’ attempt to establish wording that makes meaning acceptable to their need of the moment.
Having any individual albeit within the Founding generation or years later to try and put forth politically correct argument into the Constitution is abhorrently in error trying to install an original meaning of the founders. We can however look to different events, epochs, and times throughout history to assist us in making an informed conclusion.
Therefore let’s do that – let’s look and see what was going on during the last half of the eighteenth century – that would make a person sell themselves as indentured servants, prostitutes, or slaves simply to get here. The prevailing thought during that time, as well as the Constitution is produced, were expressions of the Enlightenment.
The Age of Enlightenment or simply the Enlightenment is the era in Western philosophy, intellectual, scientific, and cultural life, centered upon the 18th century, in which reason was advocated as the primary source for legitimacy and authority. Developing simultaneously in France, Great Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Portugal and the American colonies, the movement was buoyed by Atlantic Revolutions, especially the success of the American Revolution, when breaking free of the British Empire.
Most of Europe was caught up, including the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Russia, and Scandinavia, along with Latin America in instigating the Haitian Revolution. The authors of the American Declaration of Independence, the United States Bill of Rights, the French Declaration, of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, and the Polish-Lithuanian Constitution of May 3, 1791, were motivated by Enlightenment principle.
The “Enlightenment” was not a single movement or school of thought, for these philosophies was often mutually contradictory or divergent. The Enlightenment was less a set of ideas than it was a set of values. At its core was a critical questioning of traditional institutions, customs, and morals, and a strong belief in rationality and science.
Some historians also include the late 17th century, which is typically known as the Age of Reason or Age of Rationalism, as part of the Enlightenment; however, most historians consider the Age of Reason to be a prelude to the ideas of the Enlightenment.
According to Jack N. Rakove, the very distinguished historian as well as Professor of History at Stanford University espouses in his best-seller Original Meanings that there can be no question that the framers and many of their contemporaries were familiar not only with the great works as such luminaries as Locke, Hobbes, Montesquieu, Hume, and Blackstone. Yet these individuals thrived on self-education in areas of English politics, the moral philosophy, and social science of the Scottish Enlightenment, as well as religious undertakings in the Netherlands, the discord in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth as well as Russia and the Scandinavians’.
Having established that it is therefore essential to understand that most of the settlers were not in the lower classes. To understand the Enlightenment within the American colonies people were driven to work out of necessity and this attitude was very much a part of their glorious lifestyles. And it would be a save bet to know how much they appreciated it.
Interestingly before making the leap is to note that government existed for the many and especially to protect that liberty, property, and equal rights of the citizen.
This was the America that lured immigrants. Whilst other places in the world were in utter ruin things especially after the American revolution sure looked mighty nice to many.