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A St. Louis Union Opposes Immigration Restriction

In 1896 Congress passed a bill which would require all immigrants to be able to read at least 40 words in any language in order to enter the country. The bill was supported by the Immigration Restriction League. They worried that the increasing number of immigrants from Italy and Eastern Europe would drive down wages and never become useful members of American society. This statement by the Central Trades and Labor Union of St. Louis took the opposite view. President Grover Cleveland vetoed the bill.

We declare that the now existing immigration laws, if properly and conscientiously carried out, suffice for the protection of the interests of American workingmen. . . . 

We declare that without the immigration of the last forty years our American Republic could never have risen to the economic, commercial, and political level which today it occupies among the nations of the world. . . . 

We declare that the workingmen of this country, considered as a class, can not have any interest in surrounding America with a wall, which undoubtedly would restrain the free development of true civilization and the realization of those noble principles which have been expressed in the American declaration of liberty. . . . 

We declare that the system of industrial production for profit has brought about the present regrettable conditions, and that it is our duty as wage workers to ascertain and remove the real causes of this misery.

Source | Immigration Restriction League (U.S.); Records, 1893-1921; Series III, Scrapbook; Immigration Restriction League. Scrapbook, 1896-1898; MS Am 2245 (1054), v. 1. Houghton Library, Harvard University.
Creator | Central Trades and Labor Union of St. Louis
Item Type | Newspaper/Magazine
Cite This document | Central Trades and Labor Union of St. Louis, “A St. Louis Union Opposes Immigration Restriction,” SHEC: Resources for Teachers, accessed October 3, 2023,

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