Below I present the May & June 1968 correspondence of Durward G. Hall (R-MS) with Kentucky Democrat Fred Vinson of the Department of Justice on the treatment of certain emigrants. It was first published at page 22149 of the Congressional Record for 18 July 1968, just days short of the 100th anniversary of President Andrew Johnson’s signing of the Expatriation Act of 1868.
In 1868, men stood on the floor of the House and quoted philosophers from the Roman Republic, Germany, Switzerland, and the Netherlands in support of the proposition that emigration and change of citizenship are basic human rights. In 1968, men stood on that same floor and spluttered that Americans who emigrated and changed their citizenship were traitors who should never be allowed to return for a visit.
I’m posting this a bit late for the Act’s 145th anniversary, but I suppose if I had posted it on time it would have just ruined the mood. Instead I hope that it was a happy day that we all celebrated properly even without knowing the significance of the date: by continuing to exercise our right to live contentedly in the lands of our choosing, regardless of what people in the United States might have to say.