True Faith and Allegiance

True Faith and Allegiance: Immigration and American Civic Nationalism

Noah Pickus
Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    True Faith and Allegiance
    Book Description:

    True Faith and Allegianceis a provocative account of nationalism and the politics of turning immigrants into citizens and Americans. Noah Pickus offers an alternative to the wild swings between emotionally fraught positions on immigration and citizenship of the past two decades. Drawing on political theory, history, and law, he argues for a renewed civic nationalism that melds principles and peoplehood.

    This tradition of civic nationalism held sway at America's founding and in the Progressive Era. Pickus explores how, from James Madison to Teddy Roosevelt, its proponents sought to combine reason and reverence and to balance inclusion and exclusion. He takes us through controversies over citizenship for blacks and the rights of aliens at the nation's founding, examines the interplay of ideas and institutions in the Americanization movement in the 1910s and 1920s, and charts how both left and right promoted a policy of neglect toward immigrants and toward citizenship in the second half of the twentieth century.

    True Faith and Allegianceshows that contemporary debates over a range of immigration and citizenship policies cannot be resolved by appeals to fixed notions of creed or culture, but require a supple civic nationalism that bridges the gap between immigrants' needs and American principles and practices. It is critical reading for scholars, policy makers, and all who care about immigrants and about America.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-2691-9
    Subjects: Political Science, Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xvi)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    In the United States of America, naturalizing citizens must declare an oath of “true faith and allegiance” to the Constitution.¹ What does this oath mean? If it is a blanket promise to obey the law then it may exclude people who would make excellent American citizens—those who have deep moral convictions about right and wrong and the limits of legitimate political authority. Perhaps this oath merely requires a willingness to abide by a new political system, although the invocation of faith and allegiance seems to suggest something deeper, a change in one’s sense of self and belonging akin to...

  5. CHAPTER ONE Immigration, Citizenship, and the Nation’s Founding
    (pp. 15-33)

    At America’s Founding and in the nation’s early years, almost all of the leading political figures believed that civic freedom depended on a shared sense of belonging, but they disagreed over its meaning. Competing views of citizenship appealing variously to nationalist conceptions of history, culture, and experience, as well as civic notions of individual consent and mutual deliberation, emerged initially in the debates over the proposed constitution as a distinction between Anti-Federalists and Federalists. The former contended that liberty could only be preserved in small, homogeneous republics, while the latter argued for a system that embedded civic principles in a...

  6. CHAPTER TWO Alienage and Nationalism in the Early Republic
    (pp. 34-51)

    The significant ideological differences that emerged at the Constitutional Convention and became firmly established in the 1795 naturalization act were even easier to see during the debates over the Alien, Sedition, and Naturalization Acts of 1798. The Alien and Sedition Acts were designed to give the president greater power to move against enemies and potential enemies within the country, and the Naturalization Act made it more difficult for immigrants to become citizens. The disputes over these acts were fierce and roughly along partisan divisions between the two major postratification groupings, the Federalists and Republicans. These disputes lend themselves to an...

  7. CHAPTER THREE The Free White Clause of 1790
    (pp. 52-63)

    The precision with which arguments over immigration and alienage were carried out by the late 1790s stood in marked contrast to the Constitution itself, which did not define who a citizen was. The first legislation that determined who could become a citizen, however, was quite explicit in one respect. The Naturalization Act of 1790 used racial terminology to restrict citizenship to “free white persons.” For over a century and a half this limitation had significant consequences. It contributed directly to the subordinate status of minority groups as well as to broader crises in American citizenship and nationhood. It was not...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR Americanization and Pluralism in the Progressive Era
    (pp. 64-84)

    The amalgam of exclusionary and inclusionary laws and policies governing immigration and citizenship that emerged from the Founding and the early Republic continued throughout much of the nineteenth century. No single standard for membership existed in that period; instead, modes of citizenship were multiple and often contradictory. By the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth, significant efforts were under way to codify the meaning of American citizenship. Radical changes in politics, the economy, and culture gave new impetus to the question of whether American nationalism would support or undermine civic ideals, whether it would protect...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE Nationalism in the Progressive Era
    (pp. 85-106)

    While Dewey, Bourne, and Addams reflected facets of a left-leaning tradition of American civic nationalism, Theodore Roosevelt and Herbert Croly articulated a more mainstream position. Their analysis and rhetoric shaped the context of public debate over immigration and citizenship throughout the first two decades of the twentieth century. Roosevelt and Croly shared with Dewey and Bourne the belief that American citizenship was defined by its core civic principle of individualism. In contrast, they saw the eradication of ethnic identity—and the establishment of a uniform national identity—as the prerequisite for advancing that principle. Roosevelt worried that a series of...

  10. CHAPTER SIX World War I and the Turn to Coercion
    (pp. 107-123)

    Between the elections of 1912 and 1916 elite and popular opinion about immigrants and Americanization shifted significantly. In 1912, Roosevelt’s Progressive Party vowed to safeguard the well-being of immigrants and to integrate them into the American nation. On the Democratic side, Woodrow Wilson sought to overcome his past statements denigrating new immigrants by heaping praise on his newfound constituents. William Howard Taft and the Republicans promised to veto the literacy test and spent lavishly on advertising in foreign-language newspapers. All three parties set up special arms of their campaigns that were dedicated to addressing the concerns of immigrants. By the...

  11. CHAPTER SEVEN Immigration and Citizenship at Century’s End
    (pp. 124-146)

    The sense of a truly national citizenship that the Progressives sought to forge became increasingly solidified in the period between the New Deal and the Great Society. This identity undergirded an expanding democratic, tolerant, and multicultural ethos. The United States extended rights and offered opportunities for political participation to those previously excluded from the full protection of the state and from engagement in public affairs—African Americans and immigrants in particular. The nation rejected racial quotas in the admission of immigrants and coercive programs of assimilation. By the 1960s, U.S. immigration laws no longer favored whites over Asians and Latinos,...

  12. CHAPTER EIGHT A New Civic Nationalism
    (pp. 147-170)

    Beginning in the mid-1990s, a remarkably wide variety of moderate civic nationalist policymakers, politicians, opinion makers, and scholars began to articulate a new position. These nationalists have treated the United States as more than a set of abstract political principles. They see that a robust national identity is required to bind Americans. At the same time, this school contends that America is based on neither racial nor religious superiority. This revived civic nationalism combines ideas that today are often considered antithetical—inclusiveness and nationalism—and covers a significant swath of the political spectrum from left to right. Its perspective is...

  13. Epilogue
    (pp. 171-184)

    There are many obstacles to developing a more coherent and cohesive approach to immigration, the incorporation of newcomers, and U.S. citizenship. Nevertheless, significant changes at home and abroad offer an opportunity to move ahead in new ways. The global war on terrorism has made security a major factor in debates over immigration. This war and the broader clash between democratic pluralism and religious fundamentalism have also focused renewed attention on the value of U.S. citizenship and the meaning of American nationhood. While this attention could lead to restrictive policies toward immigrants, it also opens the possibility of recasting the incorporation...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 185-240)
  15. Index
    (pp. 241-257)