Did Franklin and Adams Try to Deport Catholics?


I have heard and/or read that after the Revolution Ben Franklin and Sam Adams worked to have Catholics deported from the new States created out of the former colonies.  I also recall that it was George Washington who put a stop to that movement.

A friend asked if I could cite sources and I could not, off the top of my head.

An hour googling around produced scattered tidbits but did indicate that both men were virulently anti-Catholic, as was common in all but two new States which did allow Catholics to at least vote, own property, etc.

I would really appreciate any source links or comments from anyone familiar with the claim that Ben and Sam wanted all Catholics removed from the new Republic.

Thank you!

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One comment on “Did Franklin and Adams Try to Deport Catholics?

  1. From: The Founding Immigrants

    JULY 3, 2007

    A PROMINENT American once said, about immigrants, “Few of their children in the country learn English… The signs in our streets have inscriptions in both languages … Unless the stream of their importation could be turned they will soon so outnumber us that all the advantages we have will not be able to preserve our language, and even our government will become precarious.”

    This sentiment did not emerge from the rancorous debate over the immigration bill defeated last week in the Senate. It was not the lament of some guest of Lou Dobbs or a Republican candidate intent on wooing bedrock conservative votes. Guess again.

    Voicing this grievance was Benjamin Franklin. And the language so vexing to him was the German spoken by new arrivals to Pennsylvania in the 1750s, a wave of immigrants whom Franklin viewed as the “most stupid of their nation.”

    * * *

    But the greatest scorn was generally reserved for Catholics — usually meaning Irish, French, Spanish and Italians. Generations of white American Protestants resented newly arriving “Papists,” and even in colonial Maryland, a supposed haven for them, Roman Catholics were nonetheless forbidden to vote and hold public office.

    Once independent, the new nation began to carve its views on immigrants into law. In considering New York’s Constitution, for instance, John Jay — later to become the first chief justice of the Supreme Court — suggested erecting “a wall of brass around the country for the exclusion of Catholics.”

    By 1790, with the United States Constitution firmly in place, the first federal citizenship law restricted naturalization to “free white persons” who had been in the country for two years. That requirement was later pushed back to five years and, in 1798, to 14 years.

    Then, as now, politics was key. Federalists feared that too many immigrants were joining the opposition. Under the 1798 Alien Act — with the threat of war in the air over French attacks on American shipping — President John Adams had license to deport anyone he considered “dangerous.” Although his secretary of state favored mass deportations, Adams never actually put anybody on a boat.

    * * *

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