DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE: Grievance Number 7. "He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands."
In December 1773, King George III (reigned 1760-1820) suspended the “Plantation” or “Immigration” Act of 1740. His intent was to strike at the heart of the economic engine fueling economic independence among the American colonies. His other goal was to extinguish momentum for independent thought and religious expression. These actions formed the basis for Grievance Seven in the Declaration of Independence.
George II (reigned 1727-1760) was the last foreign-born King of England. He supported expansive and permissive immigration to the American Colonies. In his world view, expanding population among the colonies generated demand for British goods. Skilled immigrants would increase the productivity and profitability of colonial agriculture, bringing healthy returns among Royal Charter holders and their investors.
Just as important, the attraction of America as a land of opportunity and tolerance served as a “safety valve” for removing “free thinking” or “noncomformist” Protestants, and restive Scots and Irish, from the “home country” through legally approved immigration. Church of England supporters and Royalists were more than happy to be rid of them after nearly 200 years of strife.
England also benefited from helping oppressed minorities, such as the Huguenots (French Protestants), leave Europe. It allowed England to gain the “moral high ground” in the geopolitical power struggles of the time. Bringing Scandinavian and German peoples to America forged important alliances while enriching the economic and cultural mix of the Colonies.
On June 1, 1740, the “Plantation” or “Immigration” Act of 1740 went into effect to streamline immigration and naturalization. It allowed any Protestant alien residing in any of their American colonies for seven years, without being absent from that colony for more than two months, to be deemed "his Majesty’s natural-born subjects of this Kingdom." Over the course of several years, individual Colonies began to directly administer immigration and citizenship. Many colonies, led by Pennsylvania, expanded coverage to include Catholics and Jews.
Benjamin Franklin was an eloquent supporter of immigration:
“Strangers are welcome because there is room enough for them all, and therefore the old Inhabitants are not jealous of them; the Laws protect them sufficiently so that they have no need of the Patronage of great Men; and everyone will enjoy securely the Profits of his Industry…
"These new settlers to America create a growing demand for our merchandise, to the greater employment of our manufacturers...
Fourteen years later, the “Plantation Act of 1740" would be the model for the “Naturalization Act of 1790”, the first immigration policy of the new nation.