Tag Archives: American history

Jefferson on immigration

From the Identity Dixie blog, a nice piece on the immigration views of one of our English-descended forefathers, Thomas Jefferson.

These days it seems a rare thing to find, on a right-wing or alt-right blog, any favorable mentions of Thomas Jefferson. One blog in particular (which will be nameless) has a few commenters who accuse Jefferson of everything from the old canard about his siring children by a slave, to having ‘thrown open the gates to immigrants‘.

From the Identity Dixie post, we read Jefferson’s own arguments against mass importation of foreigners, and the possible deleterious effects of doing that — which is, of course, just what our derelict rulers are doing right now. Too bad none of them seem to have read Jefferson’s wise words, from Notes on the State of Virginia.

“But are there no inconveniences to be thrown into the scale against the advantage expected from a multiplication of numbers by the importation of foreigners? It is for the happiness of those united in society to harmonize as much as possible in matters which they must of necessity transact together. Civil government being the sole object of forming societies, its administration must be conducted by common consent. Every species of government has its specific principles. Ours perhaps are more peculiar than those of any other in the universe. It is a composition of the freest principles of the English constitution, with others derived from natural right and natural reason. To these nothing can be more opposed than the maxims of absolute monarchies. Yet, from such, we are to expect the greatest number of emigrants. They will bring with them the principles of the governments they leave, imbibed in their early youth; or, if able to throw them off, it will be in exchange for an unbounded licentiousness, passing, as is usual, from one extreme to another. It would be a miracle were they to stop precisely at the point of temperate liberty. These principles, with their language, they will transmit to their children. In proportion to their numbers, they will share with us the legislation. They will infuse into it their spirit, warp and bias its direction, and render it a heterogeneous, incoherent, distracted mass.”

The writer of the blog piece, Lpantera, points out the important fact, often forgotten in this era of the ‘proposition nation’ dogma, that nations (that is, peoples) produce governments, not the other way around, as often implied by the ignorant. The people make the place; a country (including its government) is its people.

And just what kind of people produced our original system of government? Yes, I have repeated it often here, and I will say it as long as other people continue to make opposing claims about who the original American people were, and who the ‘posterity’ of the founders are:

What nation produced the American government, this unique entity in the world? The English nation – the Anglo-Saxon people upheld as the racial basis for the whole of the South by every vocal defender of the South from Calhoun to Davis right up to Governor Wallace and Sam Dickson. What happens if this people is displaced? What is the result of importing en masse a foreign horde from a part of the world in which despotism is the only experienced reality they have? Precisely what history has demonstrated, precisely the result Jefferson predicts: a nation that has been warped, rendered into a “heterogeneous, incoherent, distracted mass”.

And yes, it’s good to remember that historically, this was the majority view, taken for granted by most Southron people: the fact of the Anglo-Saxon South.

It matters. Truth always matters.

 

 

 

 

On an ‘Anglo-American Union’

W.T. Stead wrote, in the preface to his ‘Anglo-American Union’:

“The advent of the United States of America as the greatest of world-Powers is the greatest political, social, and commercial phenomenon of our times. For some years past we have all been more or less dimly conscious of its significance. It is only when we look at the manifold manifestations of the exuberant energy of the United States, and the world-wide influence which they are exerting upon the world in general and the British Empire in particular, that we realise how comparatively insignificant are all the other events of our time.

[…]
This survey is intensely interesting to all men, but it is of transcendant [sic] importance for my own countrymen. For we are confronted by the necessity of taking one of those momentous decisions which decide the destiny of our country. Unless I am altogether mistaken, we have an opportunity — probably the last which is to be offered us — of retaining our place as the first of world-Powers. If we neglect it, we shall descend slowly but irresistibly to the position of Holland and of Belgium. No one who contemplates with an impartial mind the array of facts now submitted to his attention, will deny that I have at least made out a very strong prima facie case in support of my contention that, unless we can succeed in merging the British Empire in the English-speaking United States of the World, the disintegration of our Empire, and our definite displacement from the position of commercial and financial primacy is only a matter of time, and probably a very short time. If, on the other hand, we substitute for the insular patriotism of our nation the broader patriotism of the race, and frankly throw in our lot with the Americans to realise the great ideal of Race Union, we shall enter upon a new era of power and prosperity the like of which the race has never realised since the world began. But ‘if before our duty we, with listless spirit, stand,’ the die will be cast, and we must reconcile ourselves as best we can to accept a secondary position in a world in which we have hitherto played a leading role.

If, on the contrary, we are resolute and courageous, we have it in our power to occupy a position of vantage, in which we need fear no foe and dread no rival. We shall continue on a wider scale to carry out the providential mission which has been entrusted to the English-speaking Race, whose United States will be able to secure the peace of the World.

It is, therefore, in no spirit of despair, but rather with joyful confidence and great hope that I commend this book to my fellow countrymen.

December, 1901,
W.T. Stead”

Obviously, Stead’s proposal of an Anglo-American Union was not to be, and Stead probably had little inkling of the coming two disastrous World Wars which would be so costly, in both lives and treasure,  to England and the British Empire overall. He probably couldn’t have envisioned the loss of the Empire with the decolonialization following the wars, and the ill-considered move to open Britain to the multiracial, polyglot peoples of the ‘Commonwealth’. This got under way in earnest in 1948, with the arrival of the Windrush, with its human cargo presaging the ‘diversity imperative’ of the post-war years.

It wasn’t until years later that the Labour government had decided (according to the words of Jack Straw) to ‘rub the nose of the [British] Right in diversity’. As we can see, though, this push to ‘multiculturalize’ Britain was already well under way by the 1990s. Britain and the indigenous English had already been somewhat conditioned, gradually, to accept this change. Just as in the United States, we had long been conditioned to believe that our country was a ‘melting pot’ of first, Europe’s peoples, and then the peoples of the entire planet, as the decades went by.

Various justifications were, and have been, offered as to why we ‘have to’ open our countries up to an array of peoples from every corner of the globe, and why this must be accelerated, regardless of its effect on us and on our children’s future prospects. Most often we are told that the ‘world is growing smaller, and we have to function as a ”global community”; that we can’t be independent and self-sufficient any longer in a ‘global society’. We can no longer have the luxury of freedom of assocation as invididuals nor can we, as nations, associate only with those we choose; we must be utterly indiscriminate.

Yet if this world still made sense, it would be most sensible to have closest ties with those who are of common origin with us, who speak the same language and share, to some degree, a similar culture and customs. Why then did Britain and the United States, despite the long (but now weakened) ‘special relationship’ between our countries, choose to go in the opposite direction? Why did both our countries choose to welcome utter strangers, with whom we have little to nothing in common (except 46 chromosomes, it seems) rather than to have sought, long ago, to enter into some kind of reciprocal relationship? Why did both countries (as well as the other countries of the Anglosphere) coincidentally go for the ‘diversity, one-world’ option? Of course my question is mostly rhetorical.

W.T. Stead’s idea of an Anglo-American United States may have been a misguided notion; it might not have been workable. There are many reasons why; in part, it may be that because both our nations, being stiff-necked and proud, regarded one another as rivals or competitors, and each of our nations’ governments felt the need to ‘prove’ something to the other. Americans have long been taught, implicitly if not explicitly, that our ‘democratic republic’ was far superior to the outdated system of the mother country; we were more committed to ‘equality’ and ‘freedom’ than our poor British cousins, who were mere ‘subjects’ , while we are ‘citizens of a free republic.’

Pride, and petty rivalry.

I am not sure that a “United States of the World’ will ever exist; if so, it will not be the nation most of us were born into. I am an ethnonationalist and not a pan-Europeanist. But it does seem baffling and counter-intuitive that we choose to join with strangers rather than kinsmen.

Teddy Roosevelt’s view of America’s founding stock

Carleton Putnam, in his book Race and Reality, quotes Teddy Roosevelt on America’s founding stock.

“[O]n the New England Coast the English blood was as pure as in any part of Britain; in New York and New Jersey it was mixed with that of the Dutch settlers—and the Dutch are by race nearer to the true old English of Alfred and Harold than are, for example, the thoroughly Anglicized Welsh of Cornwall. Otherwise, the infusion of new blood into the English race [more accurately, English amalgam] on this side of the Atlantic has been chiefly from three sources—German, Irish, and Norse; and these three sources represent the elemental parts of the composite English stock in about the same proportions in which they were originally combined—mainly Teutonic, largely Celtic, and with a Scandinavian admixture. The descendant of the German becomes as much an Anglo-American as the descendant of the Strathclyde Celt has already become an Anglo-Briton . . . It must always be kept in mind that the Americans and the British are two substantially similar branches of the great English race, which both before and after their separation have assimilated, and made Englishmen of many other peoples. . .

I agree with much of what Roosevelt says above, but the last sentence is something I have reservations about. I’ve bolded the pertinent part.  Obviously Roosevelt was more of a ‘civic nationalist’ and judging by what he says about the Americans and British ‘making Englishmen of many other  peoples‘ he believed in the melting pot, and in the limitless possibility of assimilating many disparate peoples. He may just have been using a little hyperbole when he says many other peoples were ‘made Englishmen‘ by assimilation. But whether or not he meant that phrase metaphorically, it’s been treated as truth by many people in the years since those words were written.

Oftentimes the civic nationalists in both the United States and in Britain have expressed the belief that if only, say, Moslems ‘assimilated’, learned good English, and ‘moderated’ their religious beliefs and cultures, they will be full members of their host countries. Is everyone assimilable, given the right instructions in how to be a ‘good citizen’ of America or of any Western country? It’s an article of faith in the religion that is civic nationalism, but there seems to be little evidence that it’s true.

One more thing I noticed about the quote from Roosevelt about what makes an ‘Anglo-American’: it seems that his views have become widely accepted in America now; everybody who is of northwestern European stock and who speaks English as their native language is now, for a lot of people, an ‘Anglo’ or ‘Anglo-American.’ Well, that’s very inclusive and all, but doesn’t that deprive those who are actually of English or British descent of their ethnic identity?

 

 

 

‘The Last of England’

Madox Brown - The Last of England_sm

The painting above is by English artist Ford Madox Brown, (b. 1821). Painted in 1855, and titled ‘The Last of England,’ it depicts an English emigrant couple as they leave their homeland. This could represent many of the English who left their country to come to America, though in fact it is based on friends of the artist who left in 1855 for Australia.

I like Madox Brown’s work; this painting is a favorite of mine, and not just because of the ‘story’ it depicts — the obviously sad couple departing England for an unfamiliar new home across the sea — but because it vividly portrays the emotions of the young couple as they leave.

Most of our English forebears left their homeland because they felt compelled to — they lacked freedom to worship, and were escaping persecution, or they lacked economic opportunity, as with many of the ‘second sons’ of the gentry who emigrated to the colonies. My Virginia ancestors fell into the latter category.

Whichever reason compelled many of the emigrants to leave, I am sure they didn’t leave with the intent of forgetting their homeland or their origins and heritage. I am sure they would want us, their descendants, to honor that as well.

‘Don’t say you are English’

The following appears on this website, credited as shown below, apparently anonymously written.

JUST DON’T SAY YOU’RE ENGLISH
(Found beside company photocopier)

Goodbye to my England – So long my old friend
Your days are now numbered, being brought to an end
To be Scottish, Irish or Welsh, that’s just fine
But don’t say you’re English, that’s way out of line.

The French and the Germans may call themselves such,
As may Norwegians, the Swedes and the Dutch,
You can say you are Russian, or maybe a Dane.
But don’t say you’re English, ever again

At Broadcasting House that word is taboo
In Brussels they’ve scrapped it, in Parliament too,
Even schools are affected, staff do as they’re told,
They mustn’t teach children about the England of old

Writers like Shakespeare, Milton and Shaw
Do the pupils not learn about them anymore?
How about Agincourt, Hastings, Arnhem or Mons
When England lost hosts of her very brave sons?

We are not Europeans how can we be?
Europe is miles away, over the sea,
We’re the English from England, let’s all be proud-
Stand up and be counted –  shout it out loud!

Let’s tell our government – and Brussels too –
We’re proud of our heritage and the Red, White and Blue.
Fly the flag of St. George or the Union Jack.
Let the world know – WE WANT OUR ENGLAND BACK!

I have also found this poem somewhere else, credited to Terry Ogelthorpe. Whether the writer is anonymous or Terry Ogelthorpe,  it seems to represent a very real sentiment. We don’t hear or read much about English nationalism on this side of the Atlantic, so apparently the  unspoken rule against identifying as English has been pretty effective. In some cases it’s just ingrained habit, maybe, with most people accepting the common practice of using ‘Britain’ or ‘British’ interchangeably with ‘England’ and ‘English.’ But the terms are not the same, are they.

Here in the United States we have something of this ‘don’t say you are English’ habit, and a similar carelessness with using the terms ‘British’ and ‘English’. But for many Americans of English descent, we’ve got used to thinking of ourselves as ‘just Americans’, or identifying with our regional origin, as Southern people have traditionally done. Yet once upon a time many Southrons, if not most, explicitly spoke of their Anglo-Saxon origins.

Obviously, though, on both sides of the Atlantic, it just isn’t “in” or it simply isn’t “done” to openly say we are of English origin. And that’s more than a shame.

 

 

English dialect words in Virginia

As I’ve said, the English language in all its various dialects interests me, especially as it illustrates that aspect of our heritage from England. Yesterday I posted an excerpt from a book called The Word-Book of Virginia Folk-Speech, from 1899.

Here, the writer lists some examples of Wiltshire and Cornwall dialect words found in use in Virginia.

Wiltshire words in Virginia speech_wordbookofvirgin00gree_0013

Anyone familiar with the various Southern American dialects of English, (at least as they existed before all the demographic and cultural changes that have swept over the South) will recognize many of these usages. I can pick out several of them in the above excerpt. For instance, the word ‘yellow’ pronounced as ‘yalla.’ Granted, it was mostly rural and older folk who retained this into our era, but my grandparents and their generation spoke that way. Likewise, the pronunciation of the word ‘seven’ as something like ‘seb’m‘. It can’t have been uncommon in England, as I’ve heard it from older speakers in the UK, and they were educated speakers, by the way. Same with the word ‘eleven’ as ‘eleb’m‘, roughly.

Why do I bring up these quirks? I think it’s important to point them out, not just for curiosity’s sake, but because far too many Southron people have been persuaded that everything about the Southern American dialects represents ‘ignorance’ on the part of Southron folk. Many of these old expressions and pronunciations were not ‘ignorant’ or the result of a lack of education; they were simply hold-overs from the dialect(s) our ancestors spoke when they arrived from England 400+ years ago. Some of those usages have long since died out in the UK, as language change does happen, but that does not mean that the older usages that survived here were in error. They were simply archaic, from the viewpoint of our cousins back  in the mother country.

In the quote above, another odd pronunciation in Virginia (and in my Texas childhood) was the word ‘rinse’ pronounced as ‘rench.’ My mother, being from the North, disdained this kind of ‘mispronunciation,’ seeing it as backward. Sadly many Northern people believe that the Southron dialect is a sign of low intelligence. Maybe if such people recognized that the different usages are simply ‘old-fashioned’ usages, or dialect variances, they might not be so disdainful.

The second paragraph in the quote mentions the habit of dropping the final ‘g’ in words ending in ‘-ing’. In my experience this is not a Southernism but is widespread across the United States and Canada. It’s also heard on the other side of the Atlantic.  (I remember the carping American media raking Sarah Palin over the coals for “dropping her ‘g’s”, as if a large proportion of Americans don’t do the same thing, regardless of regional origin or level of education. Funny how snobbish the self-important ‘journalistic’ classes can be.)

Books have been written about the Southern American dialect, or dialects. I can’t do the subject justice here, but I will return to it at times. It’s important for us to know that so much of what we take for granted about our culture, including our language, did not originate here. It is part of our ‘old inheritance’, and knowing these things should enhance our sense of identity, and remind us of our origins in Britain.

 

 

The early settlers of Virginia

From The Word-Book of Virginia Folk-Speech, by Bennett Wood Green, 1899

”We find many of the men connected with the early settlement of Virginia from Southwest England.  Of course there were many from London, Kent and other parts, but there were Cabot, Raleigh, Drake, the Gilberts, Somers, Basset, Botetourt, Cary, and others of the principal men from the Southwest.

Moreover, the west, above all districts of England, seems to have had a numerous gentry bound by constant intermarriages into a great clan, strongly animated by local pride and a peculiar love of country. These are striking characteristics of Virginians. In Virginia, essentially the whole of the white blood is English, that has been on the soil for over two hundred years.  It is not believed that there is any body of folk of as purely English stock as the white population of Virginia, and the States descended from here; and it amounts to about three millions of people, and there is scarcely any admixture of other blood. Nothing in their history shows the least falling off from the qualities that have always distinguished their race in all times and all places. The Virginian has a good opinion of himself, is calm, well-balanced, is self-reliant and has the English quality of not being afraid to take responsibility.”

[Emphasis above is mine.]

Of course, the above was written 118 years ago, and the Virginia of that day is not the Virginia of the 21st century. But it’s useful to look back at the origins of Virginia, and by extension, the rest of the South (‘and the States descended from here’), and to read that the original settlers of Virginia were overwhelmingly English by ancestry.

I plan to return to this book in future posts about the English language as it developed in the Virginia colony.