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Harvard. Debate Briefs on Immigration. 1898-1908

A few posts ago I provided a short selection from Harvard Professor Thomas Nixon Carver’s autobiography that reminded me of the current Republican U.S. Presidential candidate’s immigration policy. I must still have had Donald Trump on the mind when I stumbled upon a book of model debate briefs for issues of the late 19th/early 20th century. One might want to first watch the speech Donald Trump gave on immigration policy last night (August 31, 2016) in Phoenix, Arizona and then examine the debate briefs below for the following three resolutions:

Resolved, That immigration should be further restricted by law.

Resolved, That a high tax should be laid on all immigrants to the United States.

Resolved, That the policy excluding Chinese laborers from the United States should be maintained and rigorously enforced.

Zombie ideas are everywhere. 

 _______________________

Briefs for Debate on Current Political, Economic, and Social Topics.

Edited by
W. Du Bois Brookings, A.B. of the Harvard Law School
And
Ralph Curtis Ringwalt, A.B.
Assistant in Rhetoric in Columbia University

With an introduction by Albert Bushnell Hart, Ph.D.
Professor of Harvard University.

(1908)

[From the Preface:]

“The basis of the work has been a collection of some two hundred briefs prepared during the past ten years by students in Harvard University, under the direction of instructors. Of these briefs the most useful and interesting have been selected; the material has been carefully worked over, and the bibliographies enlarged and verified….

…” the brief is a steady training in the most difficult part of reasoning; in putting together things that belong together; in discovering connections and relations; in subordinating the less important matters. The making of a brief is an intellectual exercise like the study of a disease by a physician, of a case by a lawyer, of a sermon by a minister, of a financial report by a president of a corporation. It is a bit of the practical work of life.

 

RESTRICTION OF IMMIGRATION.

Question: ‘Resolved, That immigration should be further restricted by law.’

Brief for the Affirmative.

General references:

New-York Tribune (May 17, 1891);
Congressional Record, 1890-1891, p. 2955 (February 19, 1891);
Political Science Quarterly, III., 46 (March, 1888), 197 (June, 1888); IV., 480-489 (September, 1889);
J. A. Riis, How the Other Half Lives;
Richmond Mayo-Smith, Emigration and Immigration;
North American Review, Vol. 152, p. 27 (January, 1891);
Atlantic Monthly, LXXI., 646 (May, 1893);
Public Opinion, XVI., 122 (November 9, 1893);
F. L. Dingley on European Emigration, United States Special Consular Reports, 1890, II., 211.

I. There is no longer any necessity for immigration:

Congressional Record, 1890-1891, p. 2955.

II. Immigration has led to many bad effects.

(a) Political.

(1) Large proportion of adults gives too great voting power:

Emigration and Immigration, p. 79.

(2) Our degraded municipal administration due to it:

Emigration and Immigration, p. 87.

(b) Economic.

(1) Immigrants offset what they produce by remittances home.

(2) Nearly half the immigrants are without occupation and this ratio is still increasing:

Congressional Record, 1890-1891, p. 2955.

(3) There is already a large unemployed class of native laborers:

Emigration and Immigration, p. 127.

(4) Displacement of American labor:

Congressional Record, 1890-1891, p. 2955.

(5) By classes used to a lower standard of living.

(6) Introduction of the system:

How the Other Half Lives, pp. 121-123.

(c) Social effects.

(1) Our high rates of mortality, vice, and crime are due to immigration:

Emigration and Immigration, p. 150.

(2) Immigration the prevailing cause of illiteracy in the United States:

Emigration and Immigration, p. 161.

III. The present laws are insufficient.

(a) Diseased persons are allowed entrance:

Congressional Record, 1890-1891, p. 2955.

(b) Agents for steamship lines induce men to emigrate.

(c) Pauper laws admit immigrants possessing less than the average wealth of residents:

Emigration and Immigration, p. 101.

 

Brief for the Negative.

General references:

North American Review, Vol. 134, p. 347 (April, 1882); Vol. 154, p. 424 (April, 1892); Vol. 158, p. 494 (April, 1894);
Journal of Social Science, 1870, No. 2;
Forum, XIII., 360 (May, 1892).

I. The policy of the United States in regard to immigration has been successful and its continuance is necessary to develop the resources of the country:

Lalor’s Cyclopaedia, II., 85-94.

II. Immigration is an advantage to the country:

North American Review, Vol. 134, pp. 364-367.

(a) The prosperity brought by immigrants.

(b) The addition to the national power of production.

(c) The money value of the immigrants as laborers.

III. The interests of American labor do not suffer by immigration:

Westminster Review, Vol. 130, p. 474 (October, 1888);
J. L. Laughlin in International Review, XI., 88 (July, 1881).

(a) Immigrants form ‘non–competing groups.’

(b) Are ultimately Americanized.

IV. The present immigration laws are satisfactory:

Supplement to the Revised Statutes of the United States, 1874-1891, I., Chap. 551;
Nation, XLV., 518 (December 29, 1887).

(a) The worst class of immigrants is excluded.

(b) The interests of American labor are fully protected.

(c) More stringent regulations, even if desirable, could not be enforced.

 

 _______________________

 

A TAX ON IMMIGRANTS.

Question: ‘Resolved, That a high tax should be laid on all immigrants to the United States.’

Brief for the Affirmative.

General references:

Richmond Mayo-Smith, Emigration and Immigration;
Forum
, XI., 635 (August, 1891); XIV., 110 (September, 1892);
Andover Review, IX., 251 (March, 1888);
Yale Review, I., 125 (August, 1892);
Congressional Record, 1890-1891, p. 2955 (February 19, 1891);
Political Science Quarterly, III., 46 (March, 1888), 197 (June, 1888); IV., 480-489 (September, 1889);
North American Review, Vol. 152, p. 27 (January, 1891);
J. A. Riis, How the Other Half Lives;
F. L. Dingley on European Emigration, in United States Special Consular Reports, 1890, II., 211;
House Miscellaneous Documents, 1887-1888, No. 572, part 2, Report on Importation of Contract Labor.

I. Immigration should be further restricted.

(a) On social grounds.

(1) The proportion of paupers, diseased, and criminal, is great.

(b) On economic grounds.

(1) No longer needed to develop the country:

Popular Science Monthly, XLI., 762 (October, 1892).

(2) The lower wages and the standard of living:

Forum, XIV., 113 (September, 1892).

(3) Unskilled occupations are already overcrowded:

Emigration and Immigration, pp. 117-122.

(c) On political grounds.

(1) The immigrants do not understand our institutions.

(2) They become tools of machine politicians:

Emigration and Immigration, pp. 79-88.

(3) They form communities by themselves.

(d) The dangers are increasing.

(1) The immigrants congregate in cities more than formerly:

Emigration and Immigration, pp. 69-70.

(2) The character of the immigrants is deteriorating:

Yale Review, I., 132.

II. A high tax would stop undesirable immigration.

(a) It would make impossible the sending of undesirable classes.

(1) Paupers.
(2) Convicts.
(3) Contract laborers.
(4) Shiftless and ignorant persons whom agents of steamship companies induce to come:

Yale Review, I., 132.

(b) The Italians and Slavs can barely raise the passage money, and they could not raise the tax.

(c) Tax would not keep out the desirable immigrants, such as Germans, Swedes, and Irish.

(1) They bring enough money to pay the tax.

III. A tax is the simplest effective restriction.

(a) It cannot be evaded.

(b) It is the surest practical guarantee of the qualities desired:

Yale Review, I., 141.

(c) It is a just means.

(1) One immigrant is worth to the country one hundred dollars:

Political Science Quarterly, III., 204-207 (June, 1888).

(2) Per capita wealth of the United States is one thousand dollars.

(3) The immigrant should pay to be admitted to the wealth and privileges of this country.

 

Brief for the Negative.

General references:

Westminster Review, Vol. 130, p. 474 (October, 1888);
North American Review, Vol. 134, p. 347 (April, 1882); Vol. 154, p. 424 (April, 1892); Vol. 156, p. 220 (February, 1893);
Forum, XIII., 360 (May, 1892);
Lalor’s Cyclopedia, II., 85;
Friedrich Kapp, ‘Immigration,’ in Journal of Social Science, 1870, No. 2, pp.21-30.

I. A continuance of immigration is desirable:

Forum, XIV., 601 (January, 1893);
Public Opinion, III., 251 (July 2, 1887); XIV., 297 (December 31, 1892).

(a) There is need of laborers in the South and West:

North American Review, Vol. 134, p. 350 (April, 1882).

(b) Voluntary immigrants are thrifty and active:

Political Science Quarterly, III., 61 (March, 1888).

(c) The troublesome and mischievous immigrants are a small part of the whole:

Nation. XLV., 519 (December 29, 1887);
Forum, XIV., 605-606.

II. The present immigration laws are sufficient:

Public Opinion, III., 249;
Supplement to the Revised Statutes of the United States, 1874-1891, I., Chap. 551.

(a) Laws now exclude paupers, criminals, insane people, and persons liable to become a public charge, as well as imported labor.

(b) Immigration is practically self-regulating:

Forum, XIV., 606.

III. The proposed measure of a high tax is undesirable.

(a) It would literally mean prohibition, which is a complete reversal of American policy.

(b) It would be unjust.

(1) It would debar families from emigrating.

(2) It would discriminate against the peasant class, women and the younger men, who are often the most desirable immigrants.

(c) It is impracticable:

Political Science Quarterly, III., 420.

(1) It would be difficult to collect the tax:

Forum, XIII., 366 (May, 1892).

(2) Our extensive frontiers would make the law perfectly useless.

(d) It would create an undesirable class of immigrants.

(1) Those who evaded the laws would be an adventurous, restless element.

(2) Those who paid the tax would be embittered by our narrow policy.

 

 _______________________

THE EXCLUSION OF THE CHINESE.

Question: ‘Resolved, That the policy excluding Chinese laborers from the United States should be maintained and rigorously enforced.’

Brief for the Affirmative.

General references:

Forum, VI., 196 (October, 1888);
North American Review, Vol. 139, p. 256 (September, 1884); Vol. 157, p. 59 (July, 1893);
Overland Monthly, VII., 428 (April, 1886);
Scribner’s Monthly, XII., 862 (October, 1876);
J. A. Whitney, The Chinese and the Chinese Question.

 

I. The Chinese are a source of danger to American civilization.

(a) Morally.

(1) Barbarity of Chinese character:

The Chinese and the Chinese Question, p. 21.

(2) Inhuman treatment of women.

(3) Practice of gambling.

(4) Degraded religion:

Forum, VI., 201.

(5) Utter disregard for oaths.

(6) Criminality:

Scribner’s Monthly, XII., 862.

(b) Socially.

(1) Unhealthy mode of living.

(2) Impossibility of amalgamation:

Overland Monthly, VII., 429.

(3) Contamination through opium smoking, leprosy, and small-

pox.

(4) Dangers to American youth of both sexes.

(c) Politically.

(1) Inability and unwillingness to become citizens:

Senate Reports, 1876-1877, No. 689.

(2) Refusal to obey our laws.

(3) Secret system of slavery:

Scribner’s Monthly, XII., 860-865.

(d) Economically.

(1) Impossibility of competition with Chinese.

(2) Gradual encroachment on all occupations.

(3) Does away with the Middle class of artisans and results in the concentration of capital:

Forum, VI., 198;
North American Review, Vol. 139, pp. 257, 260-273.

II. Exclusion furnishes-the best remedy.

(a) It is constitutional under decision of Supreme Court:

Fong Yue Ting v. U. S., 149 U. S., 698.

(b) It will not materially affect our commercial relations with China.

(c) It is beneficial to the Chinamen who are legally in the United States.

(d) It is practicable.

(1) Rules are simple and can be readily complied with or enforced.

 

Brief for the Negative.

General references:

Nation, LVI., 358 (May 18, 1893);
Forum, XIV., 85 (September, 1892); XV., 407 (June, 1893);
North American Review, Vol. 148, p. 476 (April, 1889); Vol. 154, p. 596 (May, 1892); Vol. 157, p. 52 (July, 1893);
Nation, XXVIII., 145 (February 27, 1879);
Scribner’s Monthly, XIII., 687 (March, 1887);
Nation, XXXIV., 222 (March 16, 1882);
Overland Monthly, VII., 414 (April, 1886); XXIII., 518 (May, 1894);
Richmond Mayo-Smith, Emigration and Immigration, Chap. xi.

I. The exclusion of the Chinese is at variance with fundamental American principles:

Nation, XXXIV., 222.

(a) It is contrary to the spirit of the Constitution:

Constitution of the United States, Amend. XV.

(b) It is founded on race prejudice.

(c) It violates our treaty obligations and good faith between nations:

Forum, XV., 407; XIV., 85-90.

II. Chinese immigration is no menace to American interests.

(a) The Chinese do not immigrate in large numbers.

(b) They do not multiply after their arrival.

(c) They take only money—and little of that—out of the country, and leave finished products.

(d) They compete with unskilled labor and do not affect the wages of skilled labor.

(e) They are honest, industrious, peaceable, and frugal.

(f) They form but a small element in political life, and the fact that they are not citizens makes them less dangerous than other immigrants.

III. The policy of exclusion is harmful.

(a) It injures good feeling between the two countries.

(b) It menaces commerce:

Forum, XIV., 87-88.

(1) China may retaliate any time.

(c) It discourages missionary work.

(d) It deprives the United States of effective labor suitable for large enterprises.

(1) Work on transcontinental railroads.

(2) In mines.

(3) Farming.

(4) Construction of irrigation works.

IV. The difficulty in enforcing the legislation makes it impracticable.

(a) The penalty for violation has no terrors for the Chinese immigrant:

Popular Science Monthly, XXXVI.,185 (December, 1889).

(b) Many citizens oppose the legislation.

(c) It has failed thus far.

 

 

Source: W. Du Bois Brookings and Ralph Curtis Ringwalt, eds., Briefs for Debate on Current Political, Economic, and Social Topics. New York: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1908, pp. 68-75.

Image Source:  F. Victor Gillam, “The immigrant. Is he an acquisition or a detriment?” Illustration in Judge (September 19, 1903). Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA.

 

Irwin Collier

Posted by: Irwin Collier

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