Law and Politics: Occasional Papers of Felix Frankfurter, 1913-1938

By Felix Frankfurter; Archibald MacLeish et al. | Go to book overview

America and the Immigrant

In April, 1938, Mr. Frankfurter received an award from the National Institute for Immigrant Welfare. The following selection is his speech of acceptance.

SINCE your gracious award, though it might more fittingly have gone to others, has fallen to me, it gives me pleasure to accept it in the representative rôle in which, of course, it is offered. Gratitude is one of the least articulate of the emotions, especially when it is deep. I can express with very limited adequacy the passionate devotion to this land that possesses millions of our people, born, like myself, under other skies, for the privilege that this country has bestowed in allowing them to partake of its fellowship.

It has bestowed this privilege from the beginning. The unfolding of our republic is the story of the most significant racial admixture in history. Of the fifty-six signers of the Declaration of Independence, eighteen were of non-English stock. It deserves to be recalled that, when the Continental Congress chose John Adams, Franklin, and Jefferson as a committee to devise the national emblem, they recommended a seal containing the national emblems of England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Germany, and Holland as representing "the countries from which these states have been peopled."

. . . . . . .

Foreign-born citizens from these and other countries fought in the War for Independence, helped to save the Union, and responded to the appeals for democracy in the World War. No less is our cultural history--the sciences and the arts--the fusion of the genius and labors of men and women who came to these

-198-

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