The English Language

Why didn’t the founders make English the official language? It simply may not have occurred to them. This is not as far-fetched as it may sound. It was not until near the end of the Constitutional Convention that someone suggested something as essential as a Bill of Rights, and the Convention decided against that proposal as unnecessary.

All fifty-five delegates to the Constitutional Convention spoke English. They took it for granted English was the language of this country. Since the overwhelming majority of the American population spoke English, the founders may not have thought it necessary to declare in law what existed in fact.

In 1804, Congress deliberately rejected a request to publish copies of federal laws in German. (From this incident arose the myth that, by one vote, German failed to become our national language.) Two years later, Congress rejected a similar request. The debates cited the cost of printing in multiple languages and the confusion that might result from problems in translation—concerns as valid today as two hundred years ago.

In 1811, President James Madison signed the Louisiana Enabling Act, establishing the conditions under which Louisiana could become a state. It required the laws, records, and written proceedings of the new state to be in English.  It is clear from the historical record that the country from its inception recognized and embraced cultures and languages other than English, but did not endorse an official multilingual position, but the opposite. 

“[t]he safety of a republic depends essentially on the energy of a common national sentiment; on a hamilton1806trumbull1uniformity of principles and habits; on the exemption of citizens from foreign bias and prejudice; and on the love of country which will almost invariably be found to be closely connected with birth, education, and family.”  The ultimate success of the American republic, depends upon “the preservation of a national spirit and a national character,” among native born and immigrant alike. – Alexander Hamilton

 

 

A.  English should be the official language of government.

B.  All federal election ballots and other government documents should be printed in English.

C.  Businesses should be able to require employees to speak the English language while on the job.

D.  New immigrants should be required to learn English

E.  Government should offer intensive English language instruction to all who need it, including stipends to help immigrants attend the programs.

 

One Response to The English Language

  1. sanityinjection says:

    You might be interested to read my take on why failure to act on this issue could jeopardize the future of the United States:

    http://sanityinjection.wordpress.com/2008/07/23/what-is-the-connection-between-belgian-socialism-and-english-as-the-official-language-of-the-us/

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