March 2, 1866


Despite the passing of many bills that address the interest of private companies, some argue that no meaningful immigration legislation passes in Virginia.


Everybody says that this is about the most important subject that can engage the attention of the Virginia Legislature, and yet, strange to say, no general law for its encouragement has been passed by the present session. A considerable number of acts incorporating private companies have been rushed through, while one bill of a general character was rejected, because it proposed to appointment of a commissioner (with a salary) on the part of the State to take charge of the subject, gather and diffuse information, and encourage and direct immigration. Late as it is, surely the General Assembly will not conclude its sittings without passing some general law for the encouragement of both the immigrant and the employer ; a bill that assures the employer by protecting him against the violation of the contract, by which he defrays the expenses of the immigrant, and which encourages the latter through the inducements thus afforded to farmers, corporations, and contractors, to offer them the means of coming to this country. It would be a most culpable neglect of the public interests were the Legislature to adjourn without passing such a law. They, thus far, have confided the whole matter to a few private corporations, whose interest it will be, of course, to make all they can out of the immigrant and the employer. These are, however, very well in their sphere, and they will be of much service to a large portion of the community, small farmers and others. But the general law would protect every man and open the door to all whose wants were such as would justify them in bringing laborers from abroad. A bill framed with this object has already been brought before the House. It is simple and brief, and we think, unexceptionable. Unquestionably, such a general law would be of great advantage to this State, and ought to be passed before adjournment.
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Justin Barlow




“Immigration,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed June 1, 2023,