What is a summary of the speech called "Shut the Door" by Senator Ellison Smith?  

2 Answers

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Senator Smith made this speech during debate over immigration restriction in the 1920s.  This was a time when many Americans had very nativist attitudes and were very much in favor of restricting immigration.  Smith's speech advocates restricting immigration and gives the major reasons why many wanted to take this course.

Smith's ideas can be summarized in this sentence:

I think we now have sufficient population in our country for us to shut the door and to breed up a pure, unadulterated American citizenship.

What he is saying is that there are enough immigrants in the United States to fulfill the needs of the country.  At the same time, he is saying that further immigration will dilute the country and its culture.  He is implying that the immigrants do not assimilate and become "true" Americans.  Therefore, he wants to "shut the door" and to "assimilate what we have."

thetall's profile pic

thetall | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted on

The senator was expressing his opinions with regard to immigration restriction. His argument supported the idea that it was the right time for the United States to stop admitting immigrants. He cited the issue of limited resources, stating that an increase in the number of immigrants would result in an increase in the population and strain available resources. The situation, he added, would lead to conflict over the resources, with all citizens clamoring for access.

He further argued that immigrants from certain regions would not fit within the American culture and social system because they had been subjected to a long period under a master and were predisposed to always wait for the master’s instructions. He also suggested the need to develop an exclusive and identifiable citizenry and to avoid the idea of turning the United States into an asylum for the oppressed from all nations.

The senator suggested that the United States should close its doors to new immigrants and instead focus on the people already within its borders, protecting the available resources and improving life for the people.