Frederick Douglass is undoubtedly America’s “Forgotten Prophet.” His extensive writings and speeches bring to life the values that we as freedom advocates hold dear. Among others, his thoughts about liberty, education (school choice), economic prosperity, free speech, immigration, religious freedom, personal responsibility, the U.S. Constitution stand the test of time. His opinion on these topics are just as compelling and necessary today as they were 150 years ago.
On December 7, 1869 Douglass was asked to address a Boston audience on the question of Chinese (legal) immigration. He delivered a speech entitled: “Our Composite Nationality.” Douglass masterfully articulated “why” and “how” immigrants, should be received in the United States. He convincingly explained that immigrants are welcome in our country because we all first have human rights. Douglass supported Chinese immigration and naturalization—granting them full rights of citizenship, jury duty, voting, and elective oﬃce because “there are such things in the world as human rights.”
For Douglass, there is a direct correlation between “human rights” and “inalienable rights”—both are God-given. Douglass contended that human rights supersede racial rights and national rights. Douglass wrote:
I know of no rights of race superior to the rights of humanity, and when there is a supposed conflict between human and national rights, it is safe to go on the side of humanity.”
When asked for his thoughts on the citizenship process for those wanting to settle in the United States, Douglass stated:
We shall mould [shape or form] them all, each after his kind, into Americans; Indian and Celt, Negro and Saxon, Latin and Teuton, Mongolian and Caucasian, Jew and Gentile, all shall here bow to the same laws, speak the same language, support the same government, enjoy the same liberty, vibrate with the same national enthusiasm, and seek the same national end.”
Douglass further added:
We should welcome to our ample continent all nations, kindreds, tongues and peoples, and as fast as they learn our language and comprehend the duties of citizenship, we should incorporate them into the American body politic. The outspread wings of the American eagle are broad enough to shelter all who are likely to come.”
Notice the process that Douglass advocated. To assimilate, immigrants should: (1) Bow to the same law—respect the rule of law; (2) Speak the same language—learn to speak English; and (3) Support the same government—become involved in the duties of citizenship.
Like Douglass, all Frederick Douglass Republicans welcome those who choose to legally come to America for the opportunity to make life better for themselves and their families. Nonetheless, we insist that they: (1) Obey our laws; (2) Learn to speak English; and (3) Study and value the importance of what is now their own Constitution.