From the American Antiquarian Society meetings in Boston to the chambers of the United States Senate is a step out into the wider American society of the 1890s. But where the speaker is Henry Cabot Lodge, the transition is an easy one, and indeed the pattern of assumption is not dissimilar. Speaking in favor of immigration restriction in 1896, Lodge argued that though a Hindoo might "absorb the learning of Oxford" and even sit in Parliament, he could not be made an Englishman, even though they both came from the "great Indo-European family." It had taken "six thousand years and more to create the differences which exist between them," and these could not be effaced by education in a single lifetime. Lodge went on to ask what was the "matter of race which separates the Englishman from the Hindoo and the American from the Indian?"The full text of Lodge's speech, "The Restriction of Immigration", is online at Google Books in Speeches and addresses, 1884-1909.
It is something deeper and more fundamental than anything which concerns the intellect. We all know it instinctively, although it is so impalpable we can scarcely define it, and yet it is so deeply marked that even the physiological differences between the Negro, the Mongol, and the Caucasian are not more persistent or more obvious. When we speak of a race, then,...we mean the moral and intellectual characters, which in their association make the soul of a race, and which represent the product of all its past, the inheritance of all its ancestors, and the motives of all its conduct. The men of each race possess an indestructible stock of ideas, traditions, sentiments, modes of thought, an unconscious inheritance from their ancestors, upon which argument has no effect. What makes a race are their mental and, above all, their moral characteristics, the slow growth and accumulation of centuries of toil and conflict.
More from Henry Cabot Lodge on race and immigration
I've posted excerpts from this speech before. I came across some more excerpts in this article (George W. Stocking, Jr. The Turn-of-the-Century Concept of Race. Modernism/Modernity 1.1 (1994) 4-16.):