Bernard A. Weisberger, distinguished former history professor of Wayne State University and the Universities of Chicago and Rochester, was the associate editor of American Heritage from 1970 to 1972. He recently authored When Chicago Ruled Baseball: The Cubs-White Sox World Series of 1906 (William Morrow 2006), and has also written Reporters for the Union, a study of Civil War newspapermen.
It’s a politician’s bromide—and it also happens to be a profound truth. No war, no national crisis, has left a greater impress on the American psyche than the successive waves of new arrivals that quite literally built the country. Now that arguments against immigration are rising again, it is well to remember that every single one of them has been heard before.