POLITICAL THINKERS : ST. THOMAS, THOMAS JEFFERSON AND ALEXANDER HAMILTON EMBRACED NATIONALISM

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Consider the following treatise regarding Saint Thomas, by John Horvat II, entitled “What Does Saint Thomas Say About Immigration” as a faith based understanding of the precepts of immigration as instructed by Saint Thomas through the Judeo-Christian contextual analysis.

“Saint Thomas: “Man’s relations with foreigners are twofold: peaceful, and hostile: and in directing both kinds of relation the Law contained suitable precepts.”

Commentary: In making this affirmation, Saint Thomas affirms that not all immigrants are equal. Every nation has the right to decide which immigrants are beneficial, that is, “peaceful,” to the common good. As a matter of self-defense, the State can reject those criminal elements, traitors, enemies and others who it deems harmful or “hostile” to its citizens.
The second thing he affirms is that the manner of dealing with immigration is determined by law in the cases of both beneficial and “hostile” immigration. The State has the right and duty to apply its law.

Saint Thomas: “For the Jews were offered three opportunities of peaceful relations with foreigners. First, when foreigners passed through their land as travelers. Secondly, when they came to dwell in their land as newcomers. And in both these respects the Law made kind provision in its precepts: for it is written (Exodus 22:21): ’Thou shalt not molest a stranger [advenam]’; and again (Exodus 22:9): ’Thou shalt not molest a stranger [peregrino].’”

Commentary: Here Saint Thomas acknowledges the fact that others will want to come to visit or even stay in the land for some time. Such foreigners deserved to be treated with charity, respect and courtesy, which is due to any human of good will. In these cases, the law can and should protect foreigners from being badly treated or molested.

Saint Thomas: “Thirdly, when any foreigners wished to be admitted entirely to their fellowship and mode of worship. With regard to these a certain order was observed. For they were not at once admitted to citizenship: just as it was law with some nations that no one was deemed a citizen except after two or three generations, as the Philosopher says (Polit. iii, 1).”

Commentary: Saint Thomas recognizes that there will be those who will want to stay and become citizens of the lands they visit. However, he sets as the first condition for acceptance a desire to integrate fully into what would today be considered the culture and life of the nation.

A second condition is that the granting of citizenship would not be immediate. The integration process takes time. People need to adapt themselves to the nation. He quotes the philosopher Aristotle as saying this process was once deemed to take two or three generations. Saint Thomas himself does not give a time frame for this integration, but he does admit that it can take a long time.

Saint Thomas: “The reason for this was that if foreigners were allowed to meddle with the affairs of a nation as soon as they settled down in its midst, many dangers might occur, since the foreigners not yet having the common good firmly at heart might attempt something hurtful to the people.”

Commentary: The common sense of Saint Thomas is certainly not politically correct but it is logical. The theologian notes that living in a nation is a complex thing. It takes time to know the issues affecting the nation. Those familiar with the long history of their nation are in the best position to make the long-term decisions about its future. It is harmful and unjust to put the future of a place in the hands of those recently arrived, who, although through no fault of their own, have little idea of what is happening or has happened in the nation. Such a policy could lead to the destruction of the nation.

As an illustration of this point, Saint Thomas later notes that the Jewish people did not treat all nations equally since those nations closer to them were more quickly integrated into the population than those who were not as close. Some hostile peoples were not to be admitted at all into full fellowship due to their enmity toward the Jewish people.

Saint Thomas: “Nevertheless it was possible by dispensation for a man to be admitted to citizenship on account of some act of virtue: thus it is related (Judith 14:6) that Achior, the captain of the children of Ammon, ‘was joined to the people of Israel, with all the succession of his kindred.’”

Commentary: That is to say, the rules were not rigid. There were exceptions that were granted based on the circumstances. However, such exceptions were not arbitrary but always had in mind the common good. The example of Achior describes the citizenship bestowed upon the captain and his children for the good services rendered to the nation.

* * *
These are some of the thoughts of Saint Thomas Aquinas on the matter of immigration based on biblical principles. It is clear that immigration must have two things in mind: the first is the nation’s unity; and the second is the common good.
Immigration should have as its goal integration, not disintegration or segregation. The immigrant should not only desire to assume the benefits but the responsibilities of joining into the full fellowship of the nation. By becoming a citizen, a person becomes part of a broad family over the long term and not a shareholder in a joint stock company seeking only short-term self-interest.

Secondly, Saint Thomas teaches that immigration must have in mind the common good; it cannot destroy or overwhelm a nation.
This explains why so many Americans experience uneasiness caused by massive and disproportional immigration. Such policy artificially introduces a situation that destroys common points of unity and overwhelms the ability of a society to absorb new elements organically into a unified culture. The common good is no longer considered. “
( Citation: http://www.returntoorder.org/2014/07/saint-thomas-say-immigration-2/ )

It is apparent that Saint Thomas certainly believed as a Christian philosopher, scholar and thinker that charity must be tempered with reasonable, consistent and sound sovereign policy concerning immigration to a Christian nation-state based upon commonly accepted Biblical principles.

Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence and American founding father made the following statement advocating charity tempered by firm sovereign controls over immigration policy.

“Shall we refuse the unhappy fugitives from distress that hospitality which the savages of the wilderness extended to our fathers arriving in this land? Shall oppressed humanity find no asylum on this globe? The Constitution, indeed, has wisely provided that, for admission to certain offices of important trust, a residence shall be required sufficient to develop character and design. But might not the general character and capabilities of a citizen be safely communicated to every one manifesting a bona fide purpose of embarking his life and fortunes permanently with us?”
(See Bergh, Albert Ellery, Editor. “The Writings of Thomas Jefferson,” Volume 3, p. 338. )

“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.” (Bergh, Albert Ellery, Editor. “The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Volume 2, p. 120. )

“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 directions, and render it a heterogeneous, incoherent, distracted mass.” (Bergh, Albert Ellery, Editor. “The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Volume 2, p. 121. )

Thomas Jefferson by Rembrandt Peale, 1800

The venerable patriot Thomas Jefferson was extremely articulate in his extraordinary caution against American allowance of unrequited, unrelenting globalist open borders advocacy and policy. Like Saint Thomas, in Jefferson’s world view a Sovereign’s immigration policy, especially, American immigration policy must be charitable but firm and unbending as to the type, character and especially cultural compatibility of emigrants. In Jefferson’s mind, if emigrants would not or could not adjust to the American Republics traditions, values, laws and forms of governance such emigrants should not be allowed admittance into the sovereign borders of the Republic because they would become a subversive and destructive influence.

Alexander Hamilton, Founding Father

Alexander Hamilton, writing as “Lucius Crassus” in the New York Evening Post on January 12, 1802, opined

“The safety of a republic depends essentially on the energy of a common National sentiment; on a uniformity of principles and habits; on the exemption of the citizens from foreign bias, and prejudice; and on that love of country which will almost invariably be found to be closely connected with birth, education and family”
( see https://amgreatness.com/2016/11/20/hamilton-on-immigration/)

Therefore, so to, Alexander Hamilton, as did Saint Thomas and Thomas Jefferson, call upon the Sovereign’s in Christendom and especially America, to seek immigration policies which contribute to “ the safety of a republic (which) depends essentially on the energy of a common National sentiment (and) upon a uniformity of principles and habits (and) on the exemption of citizens from foreign bias and prejudice…”

Consider the following warning by Paul Westin which tracks the warning Alexander Hamilton proffered at the founding of the republic.

Without doubt and beyond reasonable question, some of the great influential philosophical and political thinkers rejected Globalism and Open borders and embraced reasonable concepts of Nationalism, national identity and uniformity of traditions, law and a common belief system and heritage as inherited from Judeo-Christian Western civilization.

It is true, these great philosophers recommended charitable immigration they also advocated a strong sovereign control over the borders and a national immigration policy based on compatible traditions, sentiments, political awareness and traditional value system. Theses great thinkers vehemently warned a contrary immigration policy would invite division and allow a subversive element into the Sovereign’s borders.

Source Jeffery E Elliott. Esq.

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