U.S. Studies Online: The BAAS Postgraduate Journal
Issue 9, Autumn 2006
Multilingualism and Immigration in U.S. Public Policy: 1850-1910
Language provides the best proof that a law accepted by a community is a thing that is tolerated and not a rule to which all freely consent.
The fact that I am writing to you in English already falsifies what I wanted to tell you. My subject: how to explain to you that I don't belong to English though I belong nowhere else, if not here in English.
The Unmaking of American Multilingualism?
In a historic session on May 19th, 2006, the U.S. Senate decided by two separate majority votes that English would officially become, for the first time, not only America’s ‘national’ language, but its ‘common and unifying’ language as well.  If backed by the House of Representatives, the proposed legislation would give the federal government bold new powers to ‘preserve and enhance’ the English language in U.S. territories, presumably at the cost of non-English languages.  Were these decisions radical first steps towards unmaking America’s multilingual past? Or were they conservative continuations of a historically constant idealization and bias in favour of American English-only monolingualism?
The aim of this study of multilingualism and immigration in U.S. public policy is to present and discuss key legal, economic and cultural developments that have and continue to shape confluent debates surrounding the legitimacy and place of so-called ‘foreign’ (i.e., non-English) languages and their users in U.S. territories in the period between about 1850 and 1910. 
It is imperative for our purposes here to begin at this point in U.S. history because in the decades immediately following there occurred what may be called a major internal ‘implosion’ and an equally significant external ‘explosion’ in U.S. public policy, pushing America into a new age and onto the world stage. The internal implosion was that the cultural and linguistic plurality encouraged by global migrations became a polarizing force in American daily life as well as in the national self-awareness. The external explosion was that the U.S. government began its international interventions abroad, often causing similar implosions and polarizations in host countries and, in so doing, reinforcing biases and prejudices at home. As a result, between Reconstruction and World War One inclusively, many of the systems and institutions from which multilingualism and immigration in U.S. public policy cannot be separated came to power and still hold sway today. These networks of influence paradoxically transformed multilingualism into both a rallying cry for political conservatism and a catalyst for radical social change. Tracing the history of American multilingualism from these two antithetical perspectives simultaneously makes it possible to contextualize the emergence of multilingualism not only within certain patterns of immigration discourse, but also amongst the concrete actualities upon which immigration discourse is based. Doing so also permits us to keep in sight multilingualism’s longstanding relationships with other defining aspects of American culture and society, such as law, government, business, religion, race and foreign relations.
The argument is in two parts. The first is that English and English-speakers have indeed held an increasingly privileged place in the United States since at least the signing of the English-only Constitution in 1776, regardless of the fact that English has never been an ‘official’ national language. However, this does not mean that America has always been a monolingual or homo-lingual country where everyone uses One and the Same language. Rather, historical data supports the claim that multilingualism, a plurality of languages, has been the historical norm on the North American continent since before colonial times, just as it has been and still is in Europe, Asia and Africa.
This leads to the second part of the argument: that hetero-lingual (i.e., those who use ‘Other’, in this case non-English, languages) immigrants and their descendants have formed and will continue to be a vital if previously overlooked constituency in the U.S. polity, especially within the context of the emerging religious and market economies of the times. An analysis of how this heterogeneous collective negotiated its place(s) within often deliberately homogenizing systems and institutions brings the hidden history and power of linguistic plurality to light and, as such, may suggest how inter-linguistic understanding and cooperation can be inaugurated, sustained and enhanced both within and between national borders — or jeopardised.
Focusing on the dynamics of homo-lingual and hetero-lingual forces, or sometimes the lack thereof, also makes evident certain discrepancies between ‘America’s Promise’ to immigrants and what has actually been delivered.  These incongruities — intentional or not — converge in a consideration of how hetero-lingual immigrants have triumphed over and/or succumbed to their politically-charged plight. University of Chicago economist Austan Goolsbee accurately summarizes the situation in saying that the ‘dispute over immigration reform has been characterized as a battle between two messages: “Welcome to America” and “Please Go Home”’.  These contradictory messages place hetero-lingual immigrants and those who support their cause between a rock and a hard place. But the inauspicious irony in the two messages is found in the fact that they are both made in the English language.
The questions to be asked and tentatively answered here arise out of this ironic dichotomy: At which points in American history and for what reasons did unwelcoming messages advocating monolingualism and their real-world implications prevail? What role has multilingualism and language policy played in this ongoing immigration ‘battle’? And, ultimately, what insights into the current global dilemma regarding multilingualism and immigration can be gained by examining their complex but coherent history in U.S. public policy?
On the one hand, the U.S. Census Bureau uses the term ‘foreign-born’ population to refer to anyone who is not a U.S. citizen at birth. The category of foreign-born thus includes legal permanent residents, or immigrants; temporary migrants, such as students and seasonal workers; humanitarian migrants, such as refugees and asylum-seekers; and persons ‘illegally’ present in the United States. On the other hand, the U.S. ‘resident population’ is comprised of a) the ‘native’ population, including anyone born in the United States, a U.S. Island Area such as Puerto Rico or born abroad of a U.S. citizen parent and living within American territories; and b) the foreign-born population.  In this way both immigrants and natives are considered American ‘residents’, regardless of what language(s) they use. By omitting language as one of their constitutive elements, these essentialist categories have, until recently, marginalized multilingualism statistically. But this relatively recent statistical marginalization itself stems from a longer-established epistemological erasure of multilingualism in American political and social thought.
The U.S. Census Bureau only began collecting wide-ranging data on language-use in 1980. Nevertheless, it is telling that from 1850 to at least 1910, the American government did not consider language as important as other demographic markers in foreign-born populations. In many ways, 1850 was a turning point in the history of the U.S. Census, as the first questions on birthplace and occupation were inserted at this time and continue to be asked to this day. What this may mean, from the point of view of the American government until 1910, is that birthplace and occupation were on the whole more important to individual and national identity than language. With no push — yet — for official monolingualism, a push for official multilingualism by hetero-lingual immigrants would have seemed irrelevant and vice versa. This sustained denial of language as a definitive aspect of national and individual identity makes it necessary to use immigration data from the mid-19th to early-20th centuries for historical and analytical purposes. It was these immigrants and their descendants who shaped the linguistic demographics of America in 1910, when the Census Bureau first began asking linguistically-oriented questions on a racial basis. 
‘The dramatic increase in immigration to the United States’, write demographers Campbell J. Gibson and Emily Lennon, ‘during the 1840s may have been a motivation for adding the question on place of birth in the 1850 census’.  Two years earlier, in 1848, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed, guaranteeing U.S. citizenship to Mexicans remaining on their land after the Mexican-American War.  This was, at the time, only a small part of a very big picture. American immigration increased from 599,000 in the 1831-1840 period to 1.7 million in the 1841-1850 period.  Annual data show an increase from 52,000 in 1843 to 235,000 in 1847, and the figure remained above 200,000 through 1857.  In 1850, less than 10% of the American population was born on foreign soil; by 1910, the number had grown to about 15%. The fact that from 1850 to 1910, over 95% of the population came from multilingual Europe, while making a significant ethnic or racial statement of preference, says relatively little about linguistic preference. Taken statistically and collectively, European immigrants were as likely to speak different languages as Africans or Asians in absolute terms, or more so if their relative scales are taken into consideration.  In terms of international migration and its socio-linguistic effects, the fate of these two last groups is astonishing: during this time, the foreign-born Asian population grew tenfold, while that of Africa rounds to zero percent throughout.  European immigration actually fell some 5% from 1850-1910, while the resident population of ‘Latin’ American descent more than doubled, thanks in large part to the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. 
These figures offer more of a schema than an accurate depiction of the linguistic landscape of America at the time. Still, taking nationality as an indicator of language, we may be certain that America after the Civil War was not the superficially monolinguistic place it had been before these mass movements of peoples and the languages they brought with them, or linguistic migrations. In all probability, after the international immigration boom of the mid-19th century, America looked and even sounded different. During the period in question, immigrants differed not only in quantity, but also and more importantly in diversity; that is, not only were there more immigrants, but they were also from more places of origin. This plurality of origins implies that immigrants brought with them a stunning array of languages as constitutive elements of their respective national heritages.
More telling, perhaps, is the fact that from 1850 to 1910, the foreign-born population of the North-Eastern States actually shrank by 10%, while that of the West grew ten times bigger.  It was as though the American North, already loud with New England English, was not as welcoming of multilingualism as the American West, where only echoes of the formerly dominant Native Indian languages could still be heard. The important thing to keep in mind is that by around 1850, immigrants were congregating in American cities more than anywhere else: the immigrant populations of Chicago, New York, St. Louis, San Francisco and Cincinnati accounted for more than half of their respective populations. 
Data on ‘mother-tongues’ for 1910 was tabulated exclusively for the White population.  This racialization of language is rather difficult to understand, let alone accept uncritically. Language became a demographic marker for Whites in 1910, and non-Whites were considered English-speakers by default. This despite the fact that at this time immigration from historically non-White regions becomes pronounced, which led to such restrictive measures as the Japanese and Chinese Exclusion Acts. Within the racially-defined categorization of language-users set by the government, 12 out of the more than 13 million Caucasians who used a language other than English used European languages. The most frequently used of these were the Germanic languages, used by just under 4 million; the Romance languages, used by just over 2 million; Slavic languages, used by about 1.5 million; and Scandinavian languages, used by just over 1 million.  These impressive numbers may be taken as the socio-linguistic culmination of international immigration to America earlier in the 19th century. Had it not been for the great influx of immigrants over the course of half a century, America’s linguistic make-up probably would not have changed much, if at all. It is at this point in American cultural history that the notion of English as the ‘native’ language and all others as ‘foreign’ languages entrenches itself in the national consciousness. However, its presence in the national subconscious probably dates back to at least the writing of the Constitution.
A comprehensive history of non-English languages and their literatures in America has yet to be written. Nevertheless, based on the previous figures, two concise but precise statements relative to our discussion may be made. First, much like democracy and capitalism, collective multilingualism may be considered a political, socio-economic and cultural experiment before 1910. By not keeping track of languages, let alone enforcing discriminatory laws against certain of them, the position of the federal government seems to have been that the use of non-English languages was acceptable so long as the English language remained America’s unquestioned lingua franca. America’s experimentation with collective multilingualism had a double effect. First, immigrants and their children who did not originally use English often learned to after coming to America. Second, residents who until then had lived exclusively in English were exposed to non-Englishness to a degree hitherto unheard of, particularly in the cities. This hetero-lingual exposure transformed American English into a homogenizing melting pot of languages that continues to boil to this day, and may one day boil over. That is, while English-speakers may or may not have accepted non-English-speakers, the English language accepted more than just a few non-English words and ideas, thus transforming both the language and its users, over time perhaps beyond recognition. 
However, the more governmental bureaucracy entered the scene in the late 19th and early 20th century, the more stunted the use of non-English languages seems to have become. Between 1910 and 1940, the number of non-English users in America drops sharply by over 20%. This demographic plunge leads to a second preliminary conclusion. The archiving and statistical analysis of language coupled with the drastic change in linguistic policies it brought about seem to have motivated hetero-lingual American residents to become an (un)silent minority, in that they were unofficially free to speak the language(s) of their choice so long as they were never officially heard. This process was often internalized by the well known and documented ‘second generation syndrome’, in which the children of hetero-lingual parents are more likely to use the homo-lingual hegemonic language of their surroundings than their hetero-lingual ‘mother tongues’. In other words, immigrants and their children may have still used their non-English ‘native’ languages, but in order for them to be considered ‘native’ Americans, they had to use English. The more immigrants attempted to become American via English, the more their ‘native’ languages became ‘foreign’ to the English-speakers around them as well as the hetero-lingual immigrants themselves.
As late as 1997, one critic described the history of monolingual American public policy vis-à-vis multilingualism in this way:
The tensions present in this broad overview reveal certain historically constant pressures and anxieties regarding collective multilingualism in America. To take just two examples: the first use of the word ‘us’, meaning the polity as a whole, resonates only partially with its second use in ‘us and them’, in which the polity is divided by language; and the incongruity between hetero-lingual groups ‘always’ existing and multilingualism as an issue ‘always’ subsiding. Moreover, hybrid forms of language such as Spanglish, as well as the processes of mutual transculturation or ‘transcreation’, are completely overlooked here. These unstated tensions, fleshed out with historical actualities, make clear that insofar as language in American political life is concerned, ‘systematic negligence’ of multilingualism on the federal level until about 1910 may be a more accurate description than what is described as an ‘opportunistic’ national enterprise in the quote above. Put differently, language has played a pivotal role in American political life, even if its role has most often gone unrecognized. This may be because homo-lingualism and national identity are so closely knit together in the tradition of Western political thought upon which the United States was founded that social formations based on hetero-lingualism are viewed either as Babel-like dreams or nightmares.  Political positions surrounding the language question thus become polarized into monolingual conservatives who want to keep alive a real or imagined linguistic status quo at any cost, and multilingual radicals who oppose them. The contentiousness embedded in this unwarranted polarization has left America's multilingual track record far from spotless.
Once the only languages used on the continent, most Native Indian Languages are now considered ‘endangered languages’.  Only five of these genuinely ‘native’ languages spoken in what is now the United States have as many as 10,000 to 20,000 speakers, and only two have as many as 40,000 to 50,000. The Navajo language is the only native language with more than 100,000 speakers.  It is difficult if not impossible to establish how many Native Indian languages have existed in the Americas. However, that estimates reach as high as five thousand is a strong indication of how the European colonial, then continental national, governments’ early laissez-faire immigration and linguistic policies led, at least up to a certain point, directly to the de-legitimization of all non-European languages for political and legal purposes, and sometimes to their very extinction.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, the colonial impulse of early Americans to view Native languages as inferior or unnecessary compared to English changed only insofar as the objects of their disregard or hostility switched to the languages of hetero-lingual immigrants instead. A review of the relative lack of federal governmental reforms regarding hetero-lingual immigrants before and after the 14th Amendment in 1868 may help to contextualize its enactment as a turning point in the history of multilingualism and immigration in U.S. public policy. This watershed Amendment denied basic rights to hetero-lingual immigrants precisely as it granted them to other disenfranchised minorities. From its enactment onwards, the federal government made bold and consistent efforts to severely limit the influx of non-English languages and their users from without, while State governments attempted to limit their growth from within.
When the Constitution was drafted in the late 18th century, it seems not to have occurred to anyone that it was being written in English. Nothing seemed more ‘natural’, and no one who could ‘speak’ against it being written in English did so. The fact that the Constitution was wholly monolingual and denied the very existence of other languages within the framework of American democracy and jurisprudence passed altogether unnoticed. Multilingualism was thus refused a place in the pantheon of American freedoms and liberties, despite its predating monolingualism on the continent. Even if non-English users had spoken out, could they have been understood? The unfortunate answer is no, an answer that is as valid today as it was when Thomas Jefferson finished the last draft of the document which became the monolingual, and monolingually-biased, Constitution of the United States of (English) America.  In fact, I found no record of any significant federal law pertaining specifically to language in America before 1917, when Congress enacted the Immigration Law which included a literacy test in English.
This literacy test made explicit the necessity of having a working knowledge of English which had implicitly been a sine qua non of both American identity and participation in political life since the signing of the Constitution.  After the silencing of Native Americans, perhaps the greatest linguistic atrocity in human history, and through major territorial expansion such as the Louisiana Purchase and the Mexican War, American territories became geo-glossically English by virtue of becoming part of the supposedly monolingual ‘homeland’. Manifest Destiny thus became synonymous with manifest monolingualism. This de facto linguistic state remained largely uncontested until the mass influx of hetero-lingual immigrants after 1850 became an undeniable presence in American life. Nor was America ‘di-glossic’ in a socio-linguistic sense, if the term is taken technically as a society in which two languages co-exist in a relatively stable arrangement. There was nothing stable or dichotomous about multilingualism in America between 1850 and 1910. Rather, its fluid dynamics seem to have facilitated its legal and political sidestepping as an issue worthy of public debate. 
The situation changed significantly after the Civil War. Faced with reconstruction costs and a lack of labour, Congress passed the Homestead Act, granting up to 160 acres of land to settlers who promised to develop the land and remain on it for five years. Although the Act attracted immigrants from all over the world, it was also one of the last significant actions the American government would take to tacitly encourage hetero-lingual immigrants to come to the U.S. The Act also marked a change from the city as the only active site of collective multilingualism, to the rural countryside acting as one as well. Instead of or after congregating in city enclaves, many immigrants began to form smaller non-English communities across the West. These groups were usually hetero-lingual to each other but homo-lingual within themselves. Though Chicago and New York remained the primary destinations for new immigrants to the U.S., the point here is that rural areas presented opportunities and constraints to collective multilingualism which urban settings did not. As it turns out, the next best thing after silencing city-dwelling hetero-lingual immigrants proved to be isolating them in places where they could not be heard to begin with. While American agricultural and industrial capitalism promoted, defended and to a certain extent depended upon collective multilingualism, American government did not and could not do so officially without dealing a decisive blow to the language in which it came into being and through which it sustained its existence.
While the issues of race, class, and gender generated local and national self-empowering movements, the issue of language was not yet generating a similar response in disenfranchised American minority groups. Everyone in America having to fight for rights, or having rights to fight for, has to ‘speak out’ in English. The effect of this lack of inter-linguistic cohesion has been a double erasure of language, both as a political constituency and as an epistemological category. While language as such has been politically vested and investigated historically, language-groups by and large have not.  The passing of the 14th Amendment was a key victory in the history of civil rights in America, but it was a key failure in the history of American multilingualism and immigration. This English-language Amendment to an English-language Constitution served only to reinforce the primacy of English over other languages in a territory whose borders were still taking shape. It benevolently guaranteed citizenship to all persons ‘born and naturalized’ in the United State s, including slaves. But by the very same stroke, it deliberately excluded each and every hetero-lingual immigrant who a) does not speak English, as they are not able to read the very law which for this reason would deny them citizenship, and b) is a ‘foreign-born’ resident who has yet to be ‘naturalized’.  To be ‘naturalized’ into the American body politic was and is to be ‘anglicized’. How, then, can it be claimed that language has never been part of American political life? 
In 1891, Congress passed yet another law excluding more would-be hetero-lingual immigrants from admission into the American Dream. This law forbade the direct and often non-English soliciting of immigrants by domestic American companies and also created the Superintendent of Immigration — ‘grand gatekeeper’ of immigrants. Already by 1892, Ellis Island on the East Coast was opened and soon became the most important port of entry for Europeans émigrés, while Angel Island on the West Coast served the same function for those from Asia. In 1906, Congress enacted the Basic Naturalization Law, codifying a uniform law that forms the basis of all immigration laws today. In 1911, the Dillingham Commission issued its famous report, which solidified the sentiments and amplified the attitudes being discussed. Mr. Dillingham’s recommendations paved the way for the Quota Acts on immigrants of the 1920s, which were to stall the development of American multilingualism through immigration until after the Second World War.
A final blow came in 1915, when the ‘Americanization/100 Percentism’ campaign began, with its well-known pro-English and English-only slogans. A fiercely conservative, exclusivist and protectionist venture carried out by both the public and private sectors, ‘Americanization/100 Percentism’ is often said to have failed after the Great War. Even if this were true, the campaign fueled the Quota Acts of 1920s, which effectively put an end to the emergence of a truly 20th-century American multilingualism and signalled the beginning of mass ‘illegal’ migrations. This monolingual campaign was the American government’s greatest triumph over multilingualism apart from the 14th Amendment. By designating ‘foreign-born’ residents as less than or even non-Americans, the non-English languages they used also became at best ‘foreign’ or ‘alien’ and at worst non-American. This exclusivist mentality reinforced the geo-glossic presupposition that America is ‘natively’ English while forsaking all those who, in its judgment, were mere barbarians — those absolute Others who, philologically speaking, to 'our' ears say ba-ba.
If there is one thing to take away from this slow but steady advance of restrictive and exclusive language policies, it is that the ‘officialization’ of one or more languages through governing documents, political institutions and legal systems entails what may be called a ‘logocide’ of all non-official languages. 
The American Babel, At Home and Abroad
In a little-known Pennsylvania trial of 1816, Frederick Eberle and others were charged with ‘Illegally Conspiring Together, By All Means, Lawfully and Unlawfully, With Their Bodies and Lives, to Prevent the Introduction of the English Language Into the Service of St. Michael’s and Zion’s Churches, Belonging to the German Lutheran Congregation in the City of Philadelphia’.  This case became one of the early precedents for State rather than federal governments privileging English over other languages, which in part explains the relative lack of federal language legislation until the early 20th century. To be more precise, while Anglo-supremacy at the federal level was assured by the customs, covenants and conveniences discussed above, its status at the State and local levels was being actively and passively challenged by the millions of non-Anglophones arriving each decade. In reaction to this, State and local authorities for the most part took a much harder line on multilingualism than did federal authorities. For example, exclusivist legislation followed active resistance to anti-multilingualism when German immigrants united to uphold their linguistic traditions in their State- and locally-run churches and schools. Passive resistance to anti-multilingualism, which led instead to restrictive legislation, lay in the sheer number of hetero-lingual immigrants arriving each year, as well as in their status as (un)silent minorities.
In 1889, seventy years after the Eberle trial, the Bennett Law of Wisconsin embodied the exclusivity and restrictiveness of anti-multilingualism by submitting all schools and their hetero-lingual immigrant students to a monolingual English pedagogy.  Again, it was religious groups of German origin who fought against this monolingually-biased law. Thanks to their efforts, it was repealed three years later.  Religion thus seems to have been a pivot point from which hetero-lingual immigrants could fight for their linguistic rights.
More precisely, America’s religious platform was a double-edged sword for multilingualism because it was, as the Eberle case makes evident, equally a vehicle of (un)official monolingualism. According to martyrs of multilingualism such as Eberle, with the allowance for a plurality of religions under the Constitution, there ought also to be an allowance of a plurality of languages in which to worship, praise and preach. God, so their argument ran, created this American multilingualism through immigration. Who are we to limit it through law or other means, let alone destroy it? According to the religious foes of multilingualism, God’s chosen people (Americans) have been united by a common faith (Christianity) that must be reinforced through a common language (English). The debate continues both within and without religious communities to this day.
To draw upon a metaphor which has directed the course of Christian views on languages such as these for two milliennia, ‘Babel’ has two traditional meanings: the better known is ‘confusion’, the lesser known, ‘gate’. As in legal and political public policies, immigration was often the battleground upon which 19th-century America’s covert religious warfare over multilingualism took place. Those who saw multilingualism as a path to national religious confusion were in direct opposition to those who saw it as a gate opening onto collective spiritual salvation. In an article entitled ‘America’s Ever-Changing Religious Landscape’, Richard N. Ostling writes:
While mass movements of immigrants were dramatically changing American demographics, another movement was on the rise and would forever change the religious and linguistic landscapes into which they were entering: evangelism. In 1776, the Methodists had been the 9th largest religious group in the country; by 1850, they were the largest overall, due in large part to their active evangelical practices. Ranked behind them were the Baptists, Catholics, Presbyterians Congregationalists, Episcopalians and Quakers. However, by 1890, the top four denominations had switched ranks again: Catholics were by this time followed by Methodists, Baptists and Presbyterians. Then, from 1925 onwards, Baptists ranked first among Protestant groups. ‘Religious evangelism’, claims one historian, ‘was the first continental force, an all-American phenomenon which transcended colonial differences… and made colonial boundaries seem unimportant’.  However, while transcending the ethnic differences this historian has in mind, evangelism made the boundaries between languages in post-colonial America more important both domestically and internationally, not less.
One of the 19th-century counterparts to the 18th-century colonial impulse to disregard or degrade colonized language-groups was evangelism’s drive towards anglicizing hetero-lingual immigrants while proselytizing them. The link between the Word of God and the English ‘Word’ was thus also a mediating factor in the transition from inter-national colonialism, in which arriving foreigners dominated native inhabitants, to intra-national colonialism, in which now-native inhabitants dominated the foreigners who were arriving.
Carl Follen, an immigrant from Germany who came to America at this time, is an exemplary case of the latter. Upon arrival in America, he declared his intention to become a citizen, which for him meant first and foremost learning English and adopting an evangelical tradition. For a hetero-lingual immigrant to submit to the Spirit of American evangelism was to submit to the Spirit of English Grammar. ‘Churches once conducted wholly in the German language’, writes Arthur R. Shultz, ‘have [during this period] adopted the English language’, and the same can be said for most non-English Christians who adopted a ‘new’ evangelical faith.  As has been noted by Y. N. Kly,
[t]he American identity which the foreigners were to assume simply happened to concern the English Language and the Protestant religion. Cultural homogeneity was to be established at the cost of their language, at minimum. It was up to the schools [often run by religious bodies] to create and purvey the national history, and indeed, the national myths. The plan proceeded slowly, with much assistance from government legislation and public funds, indicative of strong ruling elite support. 
Evangelism’s advocacy of God’s Word as monolingual was not altogether different from the active and/or passive imposition of English upon hetero-lingual immigrants by State and local governments. Aside from both being divinely sanctioned, support for their mutually monolingual causes can be said to have come both ‘from below’ and ‘from above’. In addition to the many social and economic factors that may have prompted them to do so, hetero-lingual immigrants often learned English as a second language as a means of achieving their very salvation. A Catholic Archbishop gave voice to this willingness on the part of immigrants to learn another language, despite the fact that it caused generational conflict between German speakers: ‘It is enough to reflect that no English, American, or Irish citizen learns German, and that every German seeks earnestly to acquire the English language. The rising German generation speaks and understands English so well that mothers complain they cannot understand their children when they converse together’. 
For the most part, American missions abroad followed their churches’ domestic linguistic policies, which were strikingly similar to those of colonial Britain. The British Macaulay Minute of 1835 ordered that ‘all funds be henceforth employed in imparting knowledge of English literature and science through the medium of the English language’. As in American offshore territories, this linguistic indoctrination took place largely through domestic tax-payer supported English-language schools run by religious bodies. At the end of the 19th century, American Adventism’s foreign membership already equaled that in North America, spurring a growth-rate averaging 67.9% per decade throughout the 20th century.  In 1862, the American missionary sent to ‘educate’ the ruler of Thailand wrote that ‘knowledge of the English language, science, and literature’ was essential in order to be considered educated by the factitious monolingual standard of American evangelism. Hallett Abend, a missionary to China, equated ignorance of English with lack of intelligence.  Another young American missionary claimed, in 1910, that the ‘English language is today becoming a universal language. Almost everywhere you travel you will find your railway tickets printed both in English and the vernacular’.  Notwithstanding its invalidity, the idea that all non-English languages around the world have become ‘vernaculars’ as a consequence of its supposed universality may be understood as the international articulation of the particular domestic cultural and political climate in America vis-à-vis mono/multilingualism.
American interventionist policies in the Philippines after the Spanish-American war also made explicit in foreign lands what was rarely acknowledged as domestic U.S. policy, even implicitly. Part of the provisional Philippine Constitution reads:
By this statement, one’s allegiance to the English language became inseparable from one’s allegiance to America as a nation. In this way, the American government simultaneously actively put down and let down non-English languages outside the homeland as it had passively within its borders. Rather than acting strongly and decisively against collective multilingualism, the federal government was content to keep it weak and unable to do anything for itself. A turn of the century diplomat claimed that he was hired ‘without any qualifications whatever for diplomatic work — not even the knowledge of French or any other foreign language’.  How many people in America at the time did have these linguistic qualifications? These discriminatory practices were an extension of the monolingual paradigm of American domestic public policy into foreign policy, in which evangelism acted as a common catalyst.
Farms, Factories and Friction
The economic historian David C. North points out that the years between 1850 and 1857 were ‘were periods of significant foreign borrowing’.  Such usurious practices were to increase dramatically until World War One, when the tide of debt began to be transferred across the Atlantic. At the same time, in 1850 America made 144 million in exports and, by 1860, 333 million. The numbers were to increase exponentially from then on.  The massive loans that backed the Reconstruction Era boom in exports can be attributed in large part to the increase in connections with foreign investors, consumers and importers facilitated by the waves of linguistic migration in the second half of the 19th century. This rising economic importance of hetero-lingual immigrants, in turn, amplified the traditional frictions between those in favour of multilingualism and those opposed to it.
In 1894, Congress established the Bureau of Immigration within the Treasury Department and, in 1903, moved it to the Department of Commerce and Labour. Thus, in two swift strokes, hetero-lingual immigrants were first categorized as deficient but potential citizens, then as a) producers of domestic goods and foreign capital, b) commodities, insofar as they constituted source of labour, and c) consumers.  In 1820, the foreign-born population of the United States accounted for only 9% of labour, 25% of merchants and 31% of farmers and mechanics; in 1850 they accounted for 38% of labour, only 5% of merchants and a whopping 54% of farmers and mechanics. These numbers suggest that the more employers in industrial centres and on farms came to realize the value of the variety of human capital flowing in with hetero-lingual immigrants, the more the latter were welcomed with open arms.
Henry Ford himself appears to have believed that multilingualism could play a pivotal role in furthering America’s interests abroad and protecting them at home. In this belief, he sought to protect free market multilingualism from monolingual government attacks as a means of hastening his unique version of ‘Americanization’. In the words of Stephen Vaughn, ‘Ford felt that emphasis should be on teaching English rather than erasing German. He believed that the loyal foreign-language groups not only could hasten Americanization but could take a stand that would make impossible the survival of an un-American or anti-American press’. 
In 1850, 55.5% of the immigrants were in the industrial Northeast, creating serious tensions between State governments’ support for monolingualism and local industries’ support for multilingualism.  Many occupations during this period show an increase of foreign-born hetero-lingual workers entirely disproportionate to the number of immigrants of the same occupation who came into the country. This statistical disjunction suggests that those who came to America during this period chose an occupation, and a second language (English), irrespective of what they had done for a living and what language they used ‘back home’.  Another historian has shown that between 1870 and 1880 ‘there were changes in the occupational distribution of the labour force, including a decrease of the proportion in agriculture, an increase of the proportion in the other major occupational groups, and further changes in particular occupations’.  Through the immigrant workforce, multilingualism was never wholly separated from the workplace, regardless of the fact that the Census to this day asks only what language residents speak at home, not at work.
The quasi-schizophrenic split between work in one language and domestic life in another must, among other things, have taken a serious psycho-affective toll on immigrants.  As a unique dimension of multilingualism, ‘split-linguisticality’ is the experience of work in one language, family life in another and community life in another still, and so on. This experience may be reinforced by geography (as in ghettos, enclaves and isolated rural groups), labour divisions (including class, education level and job characteristics) and the repetition of culture activities (as in the arts and general recreation). However, split-linguisticality seems to have become less pronounced around 1910, when new laws and economic policies as well as an aging workforce diminished the presence of multilingualism in the industrial workplace until immigration picked up again after World War Two. 
As fast as the rise of smokestacks, railroads spread across the American horizon for much of the 19th century. This new mode of transportation became as important to rural multilingualism as major cities were to urban multilingualism.  ‘The major determinant of the pace of westward expansion before 1860’, North notes, ‘continued to be the profitability of the traditional staples: wheat, corn, and their derivatives. Waves of western expansion in 1816-1818, 1832-1836, 1846-1847, and 1850-1856 reflected the increased profitability of these products’.  Another reflection of this profitability is to be found in the value of agricultural implements produced in the West, which grew from $1.9 million in 1850 to $7.9 million in 1860.  Western expansion translated into a linguistic utopia for hetero-lingual immigrants who were quick to discovered that they were free to live and learn in any language if they congregated in places far from government eyes and ears. Across the Midwest, small villages began to appear in which not a word of English could be heard. On the West Coast, enclaves of immigrants from China, Japan and the Philippines began to overflow, especially after the Spanish-American War. This trend has led some labour analysts to claim with assurance that ‘much of this [immigrant] flow was initiated by active recruitment on the part of American employers’. 
The initiative on the part of America’s business community in favour of hetero-lingual immigrants was met with hostility at all governmental levels, due in part to the different voting patterns they brought with them. In 1885, Congress passed an act prohibiting labourers to come to the U.S. on a paid ticket by an employer. An attempt was made in Congress to add a Japanese Exclusion Act to the Chinese one of 1882 when the Japanese population in America reached 72,000 in 1910 with more that 40,000 in California alone. These bills, whether failed or successful, are a testament to the inequity hetero-lingual immigrants experienced even before they stepped on the proverbial boat.  The chasm between industrial and rural policies on multilingualism on one side, and government policies on hetero-lingual immigrants on the other, would only grow in the next few decades. Then, under the unified banner of patriotism, monolingualism overcame multilingualism in the ‘Americanization/100 Percentism’ campaign.
Both as a complex social body and as a diverse cultural unit, America has always been multilingual. Even if monolingualism has prevailed legally and politically, multilingualism has been sustained in American life through economic, religious, and immigration practices, among other means. The point is that since inception, certain of America’s systems and institutions—legal and political ones—have privileged one language over others. However, others have been more linguistically equitable, including certain industrial, rural and occasionally religious ones. The problem is that while many prejudices embedded in American history have been challenged and invalidated by scholars and activists alike, the bias against those who do not speak ‘our’ language persists intact and is seemingly inviolable.  With this end in sight, the history of multilingualism and immigration in U.S. public policy becomes a study in a particular kind of agency — linguistic agency — that can be granted or denied, fostered or cut off, negotiated for or fought against in and by the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the government, as well as corporations, organizations, churches, households and individuals. The notion of linguistic agency captures and ties together many of the threads that run throughout this study, and so may form a fitting end to it.
By using a given language, it may be said that a person is acting as an ‘agent’ of that language. With a critical mass of such linguistic agents in a given geographical area, a language can, in turn, be said to become its geo-glossic ‘principal’.  Unofficial monolingualism can be sustained passively as long as the principal-agent relationship is homo-lingual and remains unchallenged by hetero-lingual elements. Having no real need to become official, recourse to active measures is unnecessary and perhaps unadvisable. This is also how a language becomes unofficially identified with a country, as was the case with America. This principal-agent relationship is limited on all sides by contingencies such as which language(s) and dialect(s) have traditionally been used, the geographic characteristics of the places in which they are used, and the demographics of those who use them. These contingencies entail a degree of linguistic determinism because one rarely chooses the language-group or place into which one is born, and one is rarely able to change the language of everyone else around.
When hetero-lingual elements enter a homogeneous principal-agent structure, the whole dynamic changes — and this is when things get tricky conceptually and politically. If a single Agent of language X arrives in the geo-glossic territory of language Y, it is improbable that such Agent X will have much influence on language Y or on Agent Ys as a whole. But if a critical mass of Agent Xs arrive, the geo-glossic balance of power between languages X and Y may be upset. This is when efforts to restrain and/or eliminate multilingualism become necessary from a protectivist and exclusivist standpoints. Numbers are not the only factors that play a pre-eminent role in determining the geo-glossic characteristics of residents in a given territory: institutions and systems can also act as agents for a given language, often weathering time much better than living linguistic agents. These linguistic and para-linguistic factors, taken together, go a long way in explaining how the English language came to dominate non-English languages in America before 1850.
Being the agent of a language and having agency in a language are two very different things, and both are equally important in understanding linguistic agency. Agent X can only be effective as an agent of language X as long as there are other Agent Xs around. When Agent X enters the geo-glossic domain of language Y alone, she ceases to be an effective agent of language X, but does not necessarily stop having agency in language X. She can, for example, still read and write in language X to other Agent Xs at their geo-glossic place of origin or elsewhere. If Agent X gains a sufficient degree of fluency in language Y, she would thus gain a corresponding degree of agency in language Y. But this Agent X/Y may not be accepted as an Agent Y by other Agent Ys because she was previously an Agent X, because she has not reached the level of linguistic agency in language Y necessary to become its agent, or simply because she does not want to. If, however, a critical mass of Agent Xs categorically refuse to gain any agency in language Y, or find no need to, or instead propose that language X be accepted as geo-glossically equivalent to language Y in a given territory, this makes all Agent Ys quite anxious and creates an impetus for anti-multilingual sentiment and the establishment of official monolingualism, either as a defensive or pre-emptive measure.
Conversely, Agent Ys may see the intrinsic value in, say, commerce and culture in having as many multilingual agents on its side as possible. This added linguistic value stems from the fact that as an Agent X gains agency in language Y, she is also gaining agency between language X and Y. By positioning herself at this crossroad, Agent X/Y brings into being a world of possibilities for both inter-linguistic communication and cooperation. It is along these lines that, for instance, free market systems between 1850 and 1910 seem to have supported the peaceful co-existence of languages in collective multilingualism, while government institutions at all levels did not and perhaps could not have without peril. While all this may sound purely theoretical, it is not. I have simply translated some of the discourse patterns and concrete actualities of multilingualism and immigration in U.S. public policy into abstract terms in the hope that, as such, they may prove useful in other historical contexts, including our own.
University of British Columbia
 Ferdinand De Saussure, Cours de linguistique générale, ed. by Tullio de Mauro, my translation (Paris: Payothèque, 1974), p. 71.
 Suzanne Gamboa, ‘Senate Votes Twice for English Language’, Associated Press (19 May 2006) <http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory?id=1980874> [accessed 28 July 2006]
 This is the first of a two-part study of multilingualism and immigration in U.S. public policy, the second of which focuses on the period between 1910 and the present.
 ‘Securing America’s Promise’ was the slogan of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ‘Strategic Plan’ after September 11, 2001, but applies retroactively in spirit, as well. The ‘Strategic Plan’ is available at the USCIS website. <http://www.uscis.gov/graphics/aboutus/repsstudies/USCISSTRA TEGICPLAN.pdf> [accessed 28 July 2006]
 Austan Goolsbee, ‘Legislate Learning English? If Only It Were So Easy’, New York Times (22 June 2006) <http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/22/business/worldbusiness/22scene.html?ei=5088&en=1fce75edd7ad51fe&ex=
 U.S. Census Bureau Home Page. <http://www.census.gov/population/www/socdemo/immigration.html> [accessed 28 July 2006]
 For a provocative contemporary approach to the concept of ‘mother tongues’ and multilingualism, see Gustavo Pérez Firmat, Tongue Ties : Logo-Eroticism in Anglo-Hispanic Literature (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003). I would like to thank Professor Gustavo Firmat for his encouragement.
 If this is true, then the mass immigration of Spanish-speaking immigrants from the 1970s onwards may have motivated the inclusion of questions concerning language in 1980. Campbell J. Gibson and Emily Lennon, ‘Historical Census Statistics on the Foreign-born Population of the United States: 1850-1990’, Population Division Working Paper no. 29 (Washington D.C.: U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1999) <http://www.census.gov/population/www/documentation/twps0029 /twps0029.html> [accessed 28 July 2006]
 The Mexicans who became American citizens pursuant to the Treaty were not strictly speaking immigrants because their nationality changed without migration. They are grouped together with immigrants here based on their shared hetero-linguistic profile.
 Gibson and Lennon.
 Ibid. Not including the descendents of slaves.
 Daniel Nettle and Suzanne Romaine, Vanishing Voices: The Extinction of the World's Languages (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), p. 8. I would also like to thank Professor Honore Watanabe for his insights on this topic.
 The aim of this essay is, in part, to contribute to the discourse of diversity by examining the social construction and impact of variable traits on individual and collective levels, which can be acquired or lost within a person’s or collective’s lifespan (such as language), rather than invariable traits (such as, to debatable extents, race and gender). Taking variability as a starting point makes the significance of invariable traits germane to this study only insofar as the latter were a vehicle of the geo-glossically dominant system of signification (English).
 Gibson and Lennon.
 For more on the mixing of languages and its consequences to meaning, see Antony Adolf, ‘Multilingualism and the (In)Stability of Meaning: A Neo-Heideggerian Perspective’, EnterText 3.2 (2003) <http://people.brunel.ac.uk/~acsrrrm/entertext/issue_3_2.htm>
 Geoffrey Nunberg, ‘Lingo Jingo: English Only and the New Nativism’, The American Prospect 33 (July 1997), 40-52 (p.40). My emphases.
 For a theoretical exposition of the dynamics of collective multilingualism, see Antony Adolf, ‘Multilingualism and its Discontents: Hetero-Lingual Collectivity and the Critique of Homo-Lingual Communities’, in Returning (to) Communities: Theory, Culture and Political Practice of the Communal, ed. by Stefan Herbrechter and Michael Higgins (New York: Rodopi, 2005), pp. 143-159; for more on cross-cultural dynamics, see Antony Adolf and Robert Young, ‘Culture Without Borders: A Dialogue with Robert Young’, Safundi: The Journal for Comparative South African and American Studies 20 (October 2006) <http://safundi.com/issues/20/young.asp> [accessed 28 July 2006]
 Categorizing a language as ‘endangered’ is highly problematic. From a Darwinian perspective, the term suggests that such languages have run their evolutionary course and must give way to languages which better suit their environment; from a humanitarian perspective, such languages and their users need to be protected and preserved; from a colonial perspective, they need to be replaced with a so-imagined ‘stronger’ language; and, from a logocidal perspective, they ought simply to be exterminated.
 Nettle and Romaine, p. 8.
 Thomas Jefferson was multilingual, however.
 Debates about literacy tests in Congress date from about 1895 onwards, and have been fuelled by groups such as the Immigration Restriction League and the American Protective Association, among others. But until the debates leading up to the 1917 bill, the focus is predominantly on the issue of literacy/reading ability and only indirectly on the language in use. In the same vein, the Lodge Bill of 1897 had a lot to do with voting rights and race, but little to do with language, per se. The point here is not to give an exhaustive account of immigration or minority rights, but rather to trace how and why multilingualism changed from the peripheral issue it was to the central one it became.
 Joshua A. Fishman, Handbook of Language & Ethnic Identity (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), p. 132.
 Except within the narrow fields of di-glossic studies, psycholinguistics and macaronic poetry. One theorist who has in some ways realized this is Pierre Bourdieu, in his Language and Symbolic Power, ed. by John Thompson, trans. by Gino Raymond and Mathew Adamson (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1991). It is significant that Bourdieu spent much of his earlier career in Africa, where French was competing with native languages for political supremacy.
 The 14th Amendment also encompasses those who are ‘under [U.S.] jurisdiction’, which eventually came to mean those under American interventionist power, as in the Philippines.
 In an isolated 1886 case, the Supreme Court decided that the 14th Amendment could be used to protect immigrants in Yick Ho v. Hopkins.
 Much useful information on immigration, though not always on language, during this period can be found in U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Laws and Issues: A Documentary History, ed. by Elliott Robert Barkan and Michael Lemay (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1999).
 The term ‘logocide’, as far as I can tell, was coined by Edmund Cohen and Frank Zappa. For them, logocide refers particularly to an interpretive abuse of the Word or Logos of the Christian God as presented in the Bible. Here, however, it is meant as an attempt, intentional or not, by monolingual supremacists to silence or exterminate one or more languages, or multilingualism itself. Edmund D. Cohen and Frank Zappa, The Mind of the Bible-Believer (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1986), pp. 183-201.
 Monolingualism is still the norm in State-run education systems, even when ‘foreign languages’ are taught.
 Church and State in America: A Bibliographical Guide, ed. by John F. Wilson (New York: Greenwood Press, 1986), p. 355.
Robert Michaelsen, Piety in the Public School: Trends and Issues in the Relationship between Religion and the Public School in the United States (New York: Macmillan, 1970), p. 151.
Richard N. Ostling, ‘America's Ever-Changing Religious Landscape’, Brookings Review 17.2 (1999), 10-21 (p.14). Ostling draws heavily on Roger Finke and Rodney Stark, The Churching of America: 1776-1990: Winners and Losers in Our Religious Economy (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1992).
 Paul Johnson, ‘God and the Americans’, Commentary 99.1 (1995), 25-52 (p. 36).
 See Francke Kuno’s essay ‘Karl Follen and the German Liberal Movement’ in the Papers of the American Historical Association 14.2 (1891), 65-81; and Dieter Cunz’s essay ‘Karl Follen; In Commemoration of the Hundredth Anniversary of His Death’ in the American-German Review, 2.1 (1940), 25-27.
 Henry A. Pochmann and Arthur R. Schultz, German Culture in America, 1600-1900: Philosophical and Literary Influences (Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1957), p. 40.
 Y. N. Kly, The Anti-Social Contract (Atlanta, GA: Clarity, 1989), p. 43.
 Thomas O'Gorman, A History of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States (New York: Scribner's Sons, 1916), p. 429.
 William Ernest Hocking and Laymen's Foreign Missions Inquiry, Re-Thinking Missions: A Laymen's Inquiry after One Hundred Years (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1932), p. 117.
 Ronald Lawson, ‘From American Church to Immigrant Church: the Changing Face of Seventh-Day Adventism in Metropolitan New York’, Sociology of Religion 59.4 (1998), 323-342 (p. 330).
 Hallett Abend, My Life in China, 1926-1941 (New York: Harcourt Brace and Company, 1943), p. 343.
 Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions, Students and the Present Missionary Crisis: Addresses Delivered before the Sixth International Convention of the Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions, Rochester, New York, December 29, 1909, to January 2, 1910 (New York: Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions, 1910), p. 59.
 Quoted in Katherine Mayo, The Isles of Fear: The Truth about the Philippines (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1925), p. 351. My emphasis.
 William Barnes and John Morgan Heath, The Foreign Service of the United States: Origins, Development, and Functions (Washington, DC: Washington Historical Office, Bureau of Public Affairs, Dept. of State, 1961), p. 145.
 North, p. 82.
 The Bureau of Immigration is now part of the department of Homeland Security, and requires that all prospective citizens prove that they know English, implying that hetero-lingual immigrants are also now considered to be a matter national security.
 North, p. 233.
 Louis Bloch, ‘Occupations of Immigrants before and after Coming to the United States’, Journal of the American Statistical Association 17 (1921), 762-763 (p. 763).
 Stephen Vaughn, Holding Fast the Inner Lines: Democracy, Nationalism, and the Committee on Public Information (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1980), p. 51.
 Morris D. Morris, ‘The Recruitment of an Industrial Labour Force in India, with British and American Comparisons’, Comparative Studies in Society and History II 3 (1960), 315-20 (p. 318).
 Bloch, p. 762.
 Such linguistically-derived psycho-affective splits form an important aspect of subjectivity that has yet to be fully explored. Aside from the difficulties and possibilities of working in more than one language, the hetero-lingual experience may also be a fertile source of creativity. For example, traces of the multilingual imagination abound in two modernist masterworks, Ezra Pound’s The Cantos and James Joyces’ Finnegans Wake. In precisely the reverse situation of the majority of the immigrants we are discussing, the two authors were themselves hetero-lingual (Anglo) immigrants in continental (non-Anglo) Europe. This suggests to me that the hetero/homo-linguistic structure itself plays an equal or perhaps even greater role in the making of individual and collective subjectivity than the actual languages in question.
 E. P. Hutchinson, Immigrants and Their Children, 1850-1950 (New York: Wiley, 1956), p. 113.
 Hutchinson, p. 218.
 North, p. 252.
 North, p. 113.
 U.S. Census Bureau, Preliminary Report on the Eighth Census (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1862), p. 169.
 Joseph R. Meisenheimer, ‘How Do Immigrants Fare in the U.S. Labour Market?’, Monthly Labour Review, 115.12 (1992), 11-32 (p. 26).
 Seth N. Asumah and Matthew Todd Bradley, ‘Making Sense of U.S. Immigration Policy and Multiculturalism’, The Western Journal of Black Studies, 25.2 (2001), 82-121 (p. 96).
 This despite the fact that even the government has for some time now offered many services in non-English languages, creating an even more complicated double standard than the rather simple denial of non-English languages up until the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
 For more on geo-glossia, see Antony Adolf, ‘Multilingualism, Textuality and Pragmatic Analysis’, Interculturality & Translation 2 (2006), forthcoming.