Illinois Staats-Zeitung -- December 19, 1867Mass Meeting of Naturalized Citizens
A great number of Germans, Irish, French, Italians, Scandinavians, and members of other nationalities that immigrated to this country met at Farwell Hall last night, for the purpose of hearing addresses concerning the enactment of suitable legislation for the protection of citizens of the United States who are in foreign countries, and adopting pertinent resolutions. Of course, the meeting, called by some of our citizens, was entirely spontaneous, and none of the party leaders who were present and spoke offered any advice about saving the country, but confined their remarks to the issue.
Eduard Schlaeger, chairman of the arrangement committee, opened the meeting, and said:
"The committee has played the overture, it is up to you to stage the drama. Since our native citizens are just as much interested in this matter as the naturalized citizens are, we have chosen Mayor J. B. Rice to act as official 2representative of the City of Chicago and to preside over this meeting."
Mayor Rice stated that the Government of the United States had always wanted to protect its naturalized citizens, and now finally felt strong enough to risk carrying out its good intentions.
In a letter to the committee, Governor Ogelsby stated that the Government of the United States would use all its resources to protect its adopted citizens just as it protects its native citizens, in foreign countries as well as at home.
Thomas Hoyne declared that England had learned, in the War of 1812, that the United States would not permit any of its naturalized citizens to be pressed into the British marine service, and, if necessary, our country could fight another war to convince other nations that no naturalized American can be treated as a lifelong subject of the rulers of the country in which he was born. "America belongs to no particular nation, but is the inheritance of all nations; and the United States is powerful enough to enforce its national rights."3
Following are extracts from an English speech made by Eduard Schlaeger:
"Germans and Irishmen constitute the two principal elements of immigration to America, and they are united in their opinion concerning the question which is at issue. It is fitting that the naturalized citizens of Chicago who comprise more than two thirds of the city's population should call this meeting to oppose the schemes of those who dared to harm an American citizen, even though he hails from abroad.
"Similar meetings are being held in other parts of our country. In New York, Saint Louis, and Cincinnati great mass meetings were held by Irishmen, or rather Irish-Americans, and what was said in these meetings has echoed in the halls of Congress. Chicago presents a united front of all nationalities, and in this respect it is ahead of all other cities, although it is but a young child when compared with the above-named cities.
"We demand that Congress not only protect our adopted citizens, but that it 4take the necessary steps to ensure respect for all American citizens, no matter where they are.
"There is a fundamental difference in the terms applied to constituents: In Europe a person is called a subject, in America he is called a citizen. The idea 'citizen" forever excludes the idea 'subject". Our citizen's oath casts off the chains which bind a subject.
"Our politicians have always been glad to create 'naturalized citizens' before every election, and even up to a few minutes before the closing of the polls. In New York a 'citizen-factory' manufactures six naturalized citizens a minute during election time. Native Americans have always considered us a herd of voters, void of political wisdom--but always seem to appreciate us on election day. This low estimate of our worth has deprived us of the pleasure which we should find in exercising our right to vote, and thus participating in the government of our city, state, and country. Now we have time and opportunity to elevate our citizenship and to surround it with a power that will have a 5favorable effect upon the performance of the duties which we have assumed toward our new fatherland. Duties presuppose corresponding rights. Until now, the fullest measure of obligations of American citizens has been placed upon naturalized Americans; but their rights over and against foreign governments have been abandoned to luck--sometimes favorable, but frequently unfavorable.
"When naturalized Americans were endangered or harmed in the land of their birth, the American Government pulled its head in like a frightened turtle; it mumbled Washington's words concerning the expediency and necessity of inviolable neutrality, and other obsolete and outworn phrases. The naturalized American citizen who suffered violence and abuse in his native country received no protection or redress from the American Government, which was wont to retreat, just as a turtle pulls its head into its shell at the sight of danger.
"Intercourse between America and Europe is now so general that the question whether or not an American citizen shall have the privilege of visiting friends or business associates in the land of his birth, without being molested by the 6rulers of that country, has become of great, even of vital importance.
"A rich Englishman is protected by the great power of his country, no matter on what part of the globe he happens to be, and he can enjoy the grandeurs and pleasures of all the world. Just now Abyssinia is being chastised because Emperor Theodore ordered the arrest of an Englishman.
"The United States could have obtained such recognition long ago; England must pay recruits to join its fighting forces, for it does not trust its own subjects; it must buy loyalty; but the President of the United States merely asked for volunteers, and lo! 1,500,000 patriots of the North responded--and the princes of Europe were terrified.
"It will not be necessary to demonstrate such power, as far as foreign countries are concerned. The rulers of Europe are sitting on a powder keg and dancing upon a volcano; a few armored cruisers would decide the issue in our favor. Just as the words 'I am a Roman citizen' protected every Roman in any part of 7the world during the time of Rome's greatness, just so every American citizen, whose United States are in a better continental position than old cosmopolitan Rome was, must be secure against any wrong at the hands of other nations while visiting in their countries.
"The men who represented the United States in the principal cities of Europe succeeded at times in obtaining, as a special favor of Bismarck or of Napoleon, the release of American citizens who, while visiting their native country, were arrested and forced to do military service. Our representatives declared publicly that a naturalized American citizen must visit his former country at his own risk, and that no United States law exists according to which our country may demand the discharge of naturalized Americans who are held for military duty while sojourning in the land of their birth.
"Our naturalized citizens do not wish to be subject to the 'grace' of their former rulers any longer; they insist upon observance of the maxim.8
'Once an American citizen, always an American citizen, unless such citizenship is voluntarily relinquished.'
"In America, the individual person is of prime importance, and the state is only a means for the benefit of that person, while in Europe the state is all in all, and the individual exists merely for the benefit of the state. In Europe, individuals rule and declare, 'The state demands that all its subjects do military duty,' whereas, in the United States, the masses even go so far as to question the constitutionality of the draft law.
"A naturalized citizen of the United States, who fought for four years as a volunteer in the ranks of the Union, paid a visit to his native country, Prussia, but while there he was forced to serve in the Prussian army, just because he happened to be born in Prussia. He fought against Austria, in the Battle of Sardowa. Thus he was forced to risk his life for both countries--for his adopted country, America, and for Prussia, where he was born. If war had broken out between those two nations, and he had been captured in a 9battle, he would have been shot as a traitor. The English Government has legally prosecuted Americans of Irish extraction for making remarks unfavorable to Great Britain while they were in the United States; she has also arrested Americans who were members of the Fenians, denied them a hearing before a mixed jury, sentenced them to death by an English jury, and executed them forthwith.
"The position of a naturalized American citizen is like unto that of an infant which is claimed by two mothers. Where is there a Solomon who is wise enough to decide which is the fatherland of the man, who is supposed to be entitled to decide the matter for himself--at least according the American way of thinking?
"This is a vital question in view of a possible war between the United States and one of the Nations of Europe.
"The provisions of the so-called international law have been won gradually, 10and only after prolonged and severe struggles.
"Since we now consider our country to be a power of the first rank, we should settle this American issue, and change our status from a nation that is merely tolerated by the rulers of Europe to a nation that is recognized as one of the world's great powers. If Congress enacts laws governing the status of naturalized American citizens in foreign countries from this viewpoint, the rulers of Europe will have to accept such legislation, because they will see no other course open to them; for America has become aware of her strength, and has confidence in it."
Doctor Ernst Schmidt then spoke in German. He said, in part:
"Taking issue with Europe's lords with reference to the rights of naturalized Americans in foreign countries, we are fighting the last remnants of feudalism. The robber knights of the Middle Ages owned the life and property of their serfs, and German subjects cannot emigrate from some parts of the country 11unless they haved published their intentions to leave a certain number of times during the year preceding their contemplated departure--so that possible creditors may have the opportunity to force collection of debts.
We advocate the principle of freedom to move from any place to any other place on this earth, even now, when the crowned rascals of Europe are at odds with one another, and are thinking of leading their helpless subjects to slaughter. Now the Government of the United States has an opportunity to enforce the last provision of the law of human rights, insofar as it pertains to American citizens, and thus prove the truth of Heine's statement that Columbus' discovery of America broke the chains of human slavery.
Thereupon Eduard Schlaeger read (in English and German) the following resolutions which were unanimously adopted by the assembly: 12"A Declaration of the Principles and the Demands Made by Foreign-born Americans
"We, foreign-born American citizens of Chicago, assembled in Mass meeting in which German, Irish, French, Italian, Scandinavian, and other naturalized citizens are represented, hereby declare our principles and our demands concerning our rights as American citiznes while in foreign countries. Until now, these rights have been neglected by our adopted country for some unexplainable reason, thus forcing us to shift for ourselves and fight our own battles, while travelling or sojourning in foreign countries. We were left at the mercy of our former rulers, although we had foresworn allegiance to them when we became American citizens.
"It is true, the Government of the United States itself has sometimes advocated the principle of equality of naturalized and native citizens, but it has not put this theory into practice; at the most it has entered a protest through diplomatic channels, when a foreign-born American was abused by a foreign 13nation, whereas it should have brought its full national power to bear in favor of those of its citizens who have become innocent victims of the arrogance and insolence of other powers. We have been patient too long, and now we have firmly resolved that, in the future, our fellow citizens shall be secure against these constant encroachments upon their rights. Hence forth we shall insist that our rights as full-fledged American citizens be recognized and observed, and, to this end, demand that Congress enact laws which will proclaim to all the world that not one hair on the head of an American citizen may be touched without the offender's feeling the iron hand of a united nation, which is ready at all times, and under all circumstances, to make the cause of the most humble of its citizens its own.
"Too long have we neglected this national duty. We have made too many concessions to the medieval and feudal ideas of Europe. America has not yet enforced its anti-feudal stand, not carried out its republican mission. The right to become the citizen of another country must be recognized by 14all civilized nations; the basis for the claims of foreign rulers, namely, the obsolete idea that an individual is forever, or for a few years, bound to any country, and obligated to serve that country in any certain way, or for any certain length of time, by the mere accident of birth, must be abolished. According to the American way of thinking a citizen is not a mere tool of the state, and the state has the duty of serving its people.
"A conflict between the advocates of these two basic principles cannot be avoided, and must be fought until one or the other advocate wins. Now is the time to settle the matter. For the first time in its history, the American Republic has given evidence of its inherent but dormant power. International law must be remodeled and brought into harmony with modern and just ideas, and it is the duty of our legislators and the Executive branch of our Government to see to it that the rights of every American citizen, whether he became a citizen by the accident of birth or by voluntary adoption, are just as scrupulously observed and inviolately kept as is the person of our 15ambassadors and other national representatives in foreign countries.
"To carry out these ideas we request that Congress
1) Define the rights and the duties which American citizens have here and in other countries.
2) Interpret the right of expatriation by a law which recognizes the privilege of American citizens of settling in and becoming citizens of other countries--to show Europe that we will make no claim on those of our citizens who emigrate to other countries, so that Europe will know that we are willing to act according to the rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you".
3) Publish the new position which our nation takes in this matter, and demand unconditional recognition of the rights of our adopted citizens by each and every foreign government.16
4) Inform every foreign government that does not give a definite answer within a reasonable time, or that refuses to recognize all rights of American citizens, that our country will look upon every insult to an American citizen, or any violation of our laws, or of our interpretation of international law, as a casus belli.
"We consider it an insult when foreign rulers or governments force an American citizen to do military duty, even though that citizen was once liable to military service, or had been called for such service when he left the foreign country.
"We also consider it a violation of the rights of an American citizen when foreign governments act according to the dictum: 'Once my subject, always my subject'. The principle involved dates from the age of barbarism.
"We demand that American citizens be treated just as courteously and considerately in foreign countries as the visiting citizens of any other 17country. Great Britain has offended against this principle most grievously by denying Americans of Irish birth the right to trial by a mixed jury, and by making them responsible for statements which they made while they were living in America. Be it therefore
"Resolved, That our arrangements committee take the necessary steps to impress upon the members of Congress the necessity of promoting the ideas expressed in this meeting. Be it further
"Resolved, That we appreciate the endeavors which the members of both parties have made in Congress in behalf of the rights of our adopted citizens; we ask our congressional representatives to continue to cast aside all partisanship while acting in this matter, which is so vital to the welfare of our nation. Be it further
Resolved, That the arrangements committee is hereby authorized to call further meetings, should it be necessary, to attain our object."18
Mr. Frechett addressed the meeting in French and Mr. MacAuley in English. Then the meeting was adjourned.
III B 1, I J, III G, III H, IV
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