An examination of U.S. immigration policy during the early Republic from a security perspective—a common analytical focus within the field of international relations—reveals the inadequacy of traditional economic and ideological interpretations. Security concerns, based on actual threats from Great Britain and Spain, permeated the arguments both for and against immigration. Those in favor of immigration hoped to strengthen the nation, primarily by providing soldiers and money for the military; those opposed to immigration feared that it would compromise national security by causing domestic unrest and exposing the new nation to espionage and terrorism. These issues are not unlike those that beset contemporary policymakers.
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© 2008 Massachusetts Institute of Technology and The Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Inc.