Room for All
The Brooklyn Daily Eagle
page 2, column 4
Source: Brooklyn Public Library’s Brooklyn Collection
Transcribed and edited by Steven F. Riley
Rev. Dr. Talmage as an Anti Know Nothing.
Rev. Dr. Talmage preached a patriotic sermon yesterday morning. His subject was: “Should America, be Reserved for Americans?” and he answered it in the most anti-Know Nothing style. A very large audience listened. The text was: “And hath made of one blood all nation.” The preacher spoke in part as follows:
I think God built this continent and organized this United States Republic, to demonstrate the stupendous idea of my text. If a Persian stays in Persia he remains Persian, if a Swiss stays in Switzerland he remains a Swiss, if an Austrian stays in Austria he remains an Austrian; but all these and other nationalities coining to America become Americans. This continent is a chemical laboratory where all foreign bloods are to be inextricably mixed, and race antipathies race prejudices are to perish, and this sermon is an ax by which I hope to kill some of them or help to kill some of them.
It is not a difficult thing for me to preach this sermon, because while my ancestors came to this country about two hundred and fifty years ago, some of them came from Wales, and some from Scotland, and some from Holland, and some from other nationalities, so that I feel at home with all people from under the sky and feel a blood relation to all of them. There are madcaps and patriotic lunatics who are ever and anon crying out, “America for Americans! down with the Germans! down with the Irish! down with the Jews! down with the Chinese!” and these vociferations come from many directions, and I propose this morning, as far as possible, to drown them out by the full organ of my text, and to pull out all the stops and put my foot on the pedal that will open the loudest pipes, and run my fingers over all the four banks of ivory keys while I play the chant of my text: “God hath made of one blood all nations.”
There are not five persons in this audience, or in any audience to-day in America—unless it be on an Indian reservation—who did not descend from foreigners, if you go far enough back. The only native Americans are the Modocs and the Mohawks and the Choctaws and the Cherokees and the Seminoles and the Shawnees and such like. If the cry, “America for Americans,” be a Christian and righteous cry, then you and I have no business here, and we had better charter the steamers and the sloops and the yachts and the men of war and get out of this land as quick as possible. If this cry that I abhor had been a successful cry at the start, where now stand our American cities would have stood Indian wigwams, and the Connecticut and the Hudson, instead of being cut with the prow of steamers, would be cut with canoes, and the Mississippi River, instead of being the main artery of this continent would have been only a trough for deer and antelope and wild pigeons to drink out of.
What makes the cry “America for Americans” the more absurd and the more inhuman and the more unchristian is the fact that people who only arrived in this country in their boyhood or only one or two generations back are joining in the cry. Escaped from foreign despotisms themselves, they say: “Now shut the door; don’t let any more escape.” Having got ashore in the lifeboat from the shipwreck, they say: “Now pull up the boat on the beach and let all the rest of the passengers go to the bottom.” And people who have yet the Scotch and the Irish and the English and the Italian brogue are saying: “America for Americans.” How would it be if the native inhabitants of heaven, the angels who were born there, the cherubim and seraphim who have always lived there–should come out on the shore of heaven when you and I at last try to go up, and they should come out and shout to us: “Go back: Heaven for the Heavenians!”
The fact is, that here is a subject which needs to be presented from every American pulpit. Of course, we do not want America to become a convict colony. We would build a wall high as heaven and deep as hell against all foreign thieves, cut throats, pickpockets and Anarchists. We would not allow them even to wipe their feet on the mat of the outside door of Castle Garden. If England and France and Germany and Russia send their vagabonds here because they want to get rid of them, let us put those vagabonds in chains and send them back again to the place whence they came.
But you build a wall at the Narrows, in front of New York Harbor, or at the Golden Gate, in front of San Francisco, to keep out the honest, hard working populations of this world who want to breathe the free air of America, or get a better livelihood for their families, and it is only a question of time when that wall will tumble down on us under the red hot thunderbolts of the Lord God Almighty. They are coming, they will continue to come, and, if I had voice loud enough to be heard across the seas this morning, I would put it to the utmost tension and I would say: “Let them come!” You mean, shriveled up, stingy, blasted soul, seated at your silver dinner plate piled up with bursting roast turkey incarnadined with cranberry, your mouth full and your fork full, cramming down a superabundance that sets your digestive organs into a state of terror, do let some
other nation of the earth have at least a wishing bone.
I believe that some of this cry is an honest cry on the part of people who really fear that America is going to be over-crowded. Now, let me say to all such people: Take the populations’ of the whole earth—all the people of Europe, Asia, Africa and all the islands of the sea—and pour them out on the American continent, and yet there will be room. The Rocky Mountain desert and all the other American barrenesses are to be fertilized, and as Salt Lake City and Utah once could not have raised in many places as much as a spear of grass, they have become the gardens of the world through artificial irrigation, so the time will come when all the barren places on this American continent through artificial irrigation will be brought into a productive state, and, like Illinois’ prairie, wave with wheat fields, or, like Wisconsin farm, rustle with corn tassels. Beside that, after a century or two, when the country gets tolerably well occupied the tide of immigration will set the other way, and the politics and the governmental affairs of other nations; all being made right and Ireland turned into one complete garden, it will invite generations back again, and Russia brought out from, under despotism and made a glorious place to live in, will invite whole generations of Russians back again, and every year there will he hundreds of thousands of Americans going to other continents. And then, the centuries rolling on, after a while all the continents full and crowded, what then?
Some night, a panther meteor wandering through the heavens will put its paw on the world and stop it. Then putting its panther teeth into the neck of the mountain ranges, it will take our world and shake it lifeless, as easily as a rat terrier a rat. I have as much fear that the porpoises in the Atlantic Ocean will multiply until they stop the shipping as I have fear that this country will ever be too much crowded. By the addition of a foreign population to our native population and the intermingling of races on this continent there is going after a while to be a race in 95 per cent, better, stronger, mightier than any race now on the earth, on either side of the Atlantic. Intermarriage of families, intermarriage of nations is depressing, crippling. Marriage outside of one’s nationality, and especially marriage into a style of nationality entirely different from your own is a mighty gain. What makes the Scotch-Irish blood second in pedigree to none because of its brain and stamina of character? It is because the two most unlike people in the world are a Scotchman and an Irishman. Those nationalities intermingle and have the Scotch-Irish blood, and then they go right up to the Supreme Court bench, and right to the front or all merchandise and all jurisprudence.
Nothing so accelerates the human race as the mingling of races. And in this country we are going to have all the opposite nationalities intermingled. It is the intermingling of the races in America that is going to destroy the last vestige of race prejudice. How heaven feels about it you may conclude from the fact that Christ, a Jew and born of a Jewess, promulgated a religion for all races, and that Paul, a Jew, became the chief apostle to the Gentiles, and that Christ has allowed to burst upon us in splendor in this very year the charity of Mr. Hirsch, the Jew, who, after giving $10,000,000 to Christian charities and hospitals in January gave $40,000,000 for schools to educate the Jews in France, Germany and Russia, and, as he says, to extinguish race prejudice. Those $50,000,000 given to the Christians and the Jews for alleviating and educational purposes, not bestowed in a last will and testament when a man must give up his money anyhow, but at 55 years of age and in good health—a magnificence of benevolence never equated since the world was created.
I confess that I used to have some race prejudices, but, thank God, they have all gone, and if I sat to-day in this church, and on one side of me sat a black man, and on the other side of me sat an Indian, and before me sat a Chinaman, and behind me sat a Turk, I would be just as happy as I am now standing in the presence of this brilliant assemblage, and I am about as happy now as I can be and live. Oh it will be healthy for this American atmosphere, healthy for American life when we can take this miserable corpse of race prejudice and bury it. Bring all your spades now and let us dig a grave. Dig it deep down, deeper down, deeper down until we come to the very heart of the earth, half way across China, but no further lest the poison get out on the other side of the world. Then let down this accursed carcass of race prejudice into this deep grave. Then put on the top of it all the mean things that have ever been said about Jew and Gentile, between Turk and Russian, between English and French, between Mongolian and anti Mongolian. Then let us have for a tombstone a scorched and jagged chunk of scoria spit out by some volcanic eruption and chisel on it this epitaph: “Here lies one who cursed the centuries, aged nearly 6.000 years. Departed this life for the perdition from whence it came. No peace to its ashes.”