Free Trade Does Not Imply Immigration— John C. Calhoun

by Marcus Epstein:

More MALDEF Madness—But
Federal Judges Aren`t Immune

Libertarians often claim that immigration is simply a
corollary of free trade. Thus the

Future of Freedom Foundation
has published a
collection of essays called

The Case for Free Trade and Open Immigration

Cato Institute`s
Center for Trade Policy constantly
churns out articles promoting a less restrictive

immigration policy.


Hans Herman Hoppe,
in his article “The
Case for Free Trade and Restricted Immigration”,

reprinted in his book,

Democracy the God that Failed,

has demolished this claim that open immigration and free
trade are natural complements. 
[VDARE.COM note: see

Professor Hoppe`s
latest article

“Natural Order, The State, And The Immigration Problem.”
He wrote:

“From the outset, it must be emphasized that not even
the most restrictive immigration policy or the most
exclusive form of segregationism has anything to do with
a rejection of free trade and the adoption of
protectionism. From the fact that one does not want to
associate with or live in the neighborhood composed of
Mexicans, Haitians, Chinese, Koreans, Germans,
Catholics, Moslems, Hindus, etc., it does not follow
that one does not want to trade with them from a

In other words consumer
goods, unlike immigrants, do not

, receive

government benefits
, commit

, use up

natural resources
, vote, create urban


One great statesman to

realize this
was Senator John C. Calhoun of South
Carolina. Calhoun was unquestionably one of the most
outstanding intellects of his age. The founder of modern

Murray Rothbard,
called him

"one of America`s most brilliant political theorists."

Today Calhoun is best known for his
support for States Rights and his unfortunate and
supremely politically incorrect defense of what he
famously called the “peculiar institution” of

chattel slavery.
Many argue that Calhoun`s support
for slavery and his strong sectionalism helped lead to
disunion and

Civil War.
But Calhoun did not see as inevitable the
secession that followed his death. He wrote extensively
on the importance of citizenship and nationality to
maintain a healthy and voluntary union of states.

there have been few greater champions of free trade than
Calhoun in American history. Calhoun bitterly opposed
the protective tariff throughout his career. His famous
call for nullification in the

South Carolina Exposition
was a reaction to the
federal tariff.

Calhoun wrote to the great

British free trader
, Richard Cobden


"I regard free trade, as involving considerations far
higher, than mere commercial advantages, as great as
they are. It is, in my opinion, emphatically the cause
of civilization and peace."

But, unlike many free traders
today, Calhoun did not support open borders. Before 1875
immigration policy was

determined by the States,
so he did not have much
say over the numbers of immigrants. However, he
eloquently discoursed on the importance of citizenship
and the problems caused by introducing an

alien population
into America.

Today it is quite common to
proclaim the civil rights of immigrants. Immigration
enthusiasts like

George W. Bush
have gone as far as calling illegal

. Calhoun recognized how self evidently
absurd this concept is.

“Nothing is more difficult
than the definition, or even description, of so complex
an idea [what defines a
citizen]… But though we may not be able to say,
with precision, what a citizen is, we may say, with the
utmost certainty, what he is not. He is not an alien.
Alien and citizen are correlative terms and stand in
contradistinction to each other. They of course, cannot
coexist. They are, in fact, so opposite in their nature,
that we conceive of the one but in contradistinction to
the other.”

Calhoun also recognized the problem

divided loyalties
among citizens. He pondered,

“Suppose a war should be
declared between the United States and the

country to which the alien belongs
—suppose, for
instance, that South Carolina should confer the right of
voting on alien subjects of Great Britain and that war
should be declared between the countries; what in such
event would be the condition of that portion of our

While Calhoun was an ardent
champion of

State`s Rights
, he recognized that, because
immigration affected the entire republic, it was the
role of the Federal Government to create naturalization

“States might naturalize
foreigners, and could confer on them the right of
exercising the elective franchisee, before they could be
sufficiently informed of the nature of our institutions
or interested in their preservation.”

In this case Calhoun was speaking
largely of British immigrants, who, as he ably
demonstrated in his work A Disquisition on
came from the country from which our
political traditions were inherited. Today, the majority
of our immigrants come from Third World countries that
are oblivious or hostile to the American political
traditions. Calhoun recognized that introducing a
completely alien population to the United States would
have dire effects.

Calhoun complemented A
Disquisition on Government
with another book
A Discourse on the Constitution
and Government of the United States,
in which he examined the nature of the
American Union. In this disquisition he recognizes one of the great paradoxes of the
American federal system. Calhoun believed that citizenship was based on allegiance.
If the states were sovereign, as he thought, how could one`s allegiance be given to
both the state and to the federal government?

“For it is clear, if the States still retain their sovereignty as separate and
independent communities, the allegiance and obedience of the citizens of each would
be due to their respective States; and that the government of the United States and
those of the several States would stand as equals and co-ordinates in their respective
spheres; and, instead of being united socially, their citizens would be politically
connected through their respective States. On the contrary, if they have, by
ratifying the constitution, divested themselves of their individuality and
sovereignty, and merged themselves into one great community or nation, it is
equally clear, that the sovereignty would reside in the whole — or what is called
the American people; and that allegiance and obedience would be due to them.”

Calhoun conclusion: because of America`s common stock—i.e. predominantly
Anglo Saxon and
Protestant—it was possible to
have a loyalty to both one`s State as well as to America, despite the emergence of local
communities. But this was only possible when there was a homogeneous population and somewhat
of a consensus about the political values.

During the Mexican American war, there was a debate about whether to only annex the
largely uninhabited territory north of the
Rio Grande or
attempt to conquer and annex all of Mexico. Calhoun was horrified with the latter
idea—because it would have placed an alien population into this country.

The United States, he said, had never “incorporated into the Union any but the
Caucasian race.”

According to Thomas Ritchie, then editor of the
Calhoun`s principle concern was that annexing Mexico would leave
the United States “with a population of seven or eight million people, who are
unfit to participate in the benefits of our free institutions.”
Calhoun was also
worried that if the purpose of the war was “to destroy [Mexico`s]
then America would inherit a population that was openly hostile
to America.

Fortunately, Calhoun won this
argument and the Mexican-American border is still on the
Rio Grande— what`s left of it.

However, we also have a federal
immigration policy that Calhoun probably could not even
imagine. Millions of aliens, many of whom are still
loyal to Mexico and

over the land they ceded to America in 1848,
enter our country legally and illegally. This population
is much higher than the entire population of Mexico was
in Calhoun`s day.

The effect they could have on our
American political system could be worse than he ever

Marcus Epstein
him mail

is an undergraduate
majoring in history at the College of William and Mary
in Williamsburg, VA, where he is an editor of the
conservative newspaper,
The Remnant.

A selection of his articles can be seen here