1924 Immigration Act: The New & Improved White America


Although eugenics was alive and well in American society in the early 1900’s, it wasn’t until 1924 that it could be called official policy of the United States. Immigration reform in 1924 was the permanent plan to shape the American population into a white capitalist utopia. For the next two decades, eugenics would be the law of the land.

May 26, 1924, immigration reform was enacted with the purpose of establishing a system of quotas to determine the number of immigrants that would be allowed entry into the United States. This new law was called “An act to limit the immigration of aliens into the United States, and for other purposes” (the gringa suspects they chose the wording “other purposes” rather than “weeding out the undesirables through the practice of eugenics”). The law was commonly known as The Johnson-Reed Act. The quota formula used census totals of each ethnicity and allowed two percent of each total to immigrate, except, of course, for the Asian immigrants who were still prohibited. Filipinos were granted immigration status because their land was U.S. territory. Japanese were allowed entry but their nation was cooperating with America in restrictive immigration policies. However, this new law would contain a statute to legally restrict Japanese immigration.

The political campaigns of California Senator James D. Phelan and California’s Attorney General, Ulysses S. Webb, were supported by the lobbying efforts of V.S. McClatchy, publisher of The Sacramento Bee. McClatchy claimed the Japanese did not assimilate to American culture and their “astronomical birth rate” was a cultural threat. As Japanese property ownership increased, the envy of the white majority caused them to consider the Japanese a menace. The gringa would have wagged her finger at these Americans who should have respected the work ethic of the Japanese which enabled them to prosper. The gringa has always been under the impression that was what “real” Americanism was all about. McClatchy stated that the Japanese “make more dangerous competitors in an economic way”. The gringa stands corrected. Racism inspired by greed was the “real” Americanism of 1924, keep the money and the power in the hands of the white majority.

In response to the American population’s racist attitudes toward the Japanese, a provision was then included within the Act to prevent entry into the country by any alien who was ineligible for citizenship. This meant a total ban for Japanese who, according to the Gentleman’s Agreement of 1907, could immigrate for purposes of work but were prohibited from naturalization. Despite Japan’s protest that this violated the 1907 agreement, the stipulation remained. Promoting eugenics was more important than a good relationship with the country of Japan. Japan, viewing the legislation as an insult, commemorated the day of May 26, 1924 as a national day of humiliation. Japanese passions were so incensed, a Japanese man publicly committed suicide outside the American embassy in Tokyo. This resentment would eventually grow and create the tensions that ultimately resulted in Japan becoming an enemy to the U.S. and engaging in an act of war, the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Once again the gringa has a new perspective on an important event in U.S. history. The educational propaganda of my youth never taught me this lead up to the Pearl Harbor event. The propaganda I was taught in history class was always the drill that we were the good guys, they were the bad guys. To be a good little patriot, the textbooks at my school were full of examples proving that the good ol’ U.S.A. was founded by people persecuted for their religious beliefs and created a nation that would be open to all and where all could be equal. Where were all the other historical facts? You know, like the ones I found when researching this article? The gringa can only cock her head, squint her eyes and point her finger at D.C. and say, “Japan was demonized for this attack yet it could have been prevented if the U.S. hadn’t been greedy racists who befriended them for profit, then stabbed them in the back for racism and profit, thus making an enemy of them.”

In 1921 the Emergency Quota Act had determined the ratio of quotas to be three percent of ethnic group census totals. The 1924 legislation would further restrict immigration by lowering this ratio to two percent of ethnic group census totals. In 1924, the American people demanded even fewer immigrants. In order to further squeeze the numbers, the new act established the use of census totals from 1890 rather than 1910. Also, rather than just tally the totals for ethnicities of foreign born people, the entire population of the U.S. was used. This resulted in a large, ethnically British group. These new methods served two purposes: (a) to increase the immigration potential for the British, as well as Northern and Western Europe while (b.) diminishing the immigration potential for Southern and Eastern Europe. This is yet another deliberate attempt at eugenics through immigration controls.

Northern Europe is represented by the countries of Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Faroe Islands, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Northern Ireland, Norway, Scotland, Sweden, United Kingdom, and Wales. The countries of Western Europe are Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, and Switzerland. Eastern Europe is comprised of Belarus, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia Federation, Slovakia, and Ukraine. The countries of Southern Europe are Albania, Andorra, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Cyprus, Gibraltar, Greece, Italy, Macedonia, Malta, Montenegro, Portugal, San Marino, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey. It’s easy to see the line in the sand between white Europeans and Slavic/Mediterranean Europeans.

If anyone doubt’s the racist agenda behind this act, pay attention to the words of Detroit’s Republican Congressman Robert H. Clancy who, when debating the Act in Congress, defended Jews, Italians and Polish as Americans and described the bill as racially discriminate. He said, “…today it is the Italians, Spanish, Poles, Jews, Greeks, Russians, Balkanians, and so forth, who are the racial lepers… In this bill we find racial discrimination at its worst… so that a blow may be aimed at peoples of eastern and southern Europe, particularly at our recent allies in the Great War – Poland and Italy… Much of the animus against Poland and Russia, old and new… is directed against the Jew… We have many American citizens of Jewish descent… active in every profession… particularly active in charities… One of our greatest judges, if not the greatest, is a Jew. Surely no fair-minded person with a knowledge of the facts can say the Jews… are a menace… Italian-Americans… are found in all walks… of life… and make themselves good citizens… They do the hard work that the native-born American dislikes. Rapidly they rise in life…” He went on to explain that despite the fact that Italians only made up about four percent of the U.S. population, they comprised ten percent of our fighting force in World War I. Yet our country, because of racism, demonstrated no pride or loyalty toward this patriotic ethnic group within our nation. Clancy added, “… tens of thousands of Polish-Americans living in my district… are essentially home builders,… They learn the English language as quickly as possible… they become assimilated and adopt our institutions… in the World War the proportion of… volunteers of Polish blood was greater than the proportion of Americans of any other racial descent… they are at least entitled to justice… My mother’s father fought in the Civil War… to fight against racial distinctions and protect his country… I cannot stultify myself by voting for the present bill and overwhelm my country with racial hatreds and racial lines…”

Unfortunately when it comes to racial superiority, America has no sense of loyalty to any darker skinned nation that may have stood by us, strongly, in a time of trouble. To comprehend the direct results of this legislation, take a look at the numbers: from 1900-1910, about 200,000 Italians immigrated to the U.S. annually. The quota determined by the 1924 law resulted in less than 4,000 Italians entering annually yet over 34,000 could emigrate from Great Britain, although actual numbers put the average number of British immigrants at about 50,000 annually. Germans increased to an average 45,000 immigrants annually. From 1880-1924 about two million Jews entered, which translates to an average of 143,000 annually. One year after the passage of this law, only 10,000 Jews entered the country. Because of this legislation millions of Jews from France, Poland and Germany were denied visas and died at the hands of the Nazis. The country’s restrictive policy allowed only a few thousand of the highest educated into the country. Despite U.S. propaganda depicting itself as the friend of the Jews, the nation actually left these people to their fate in their enemy’s hands. The Americanism of 1924 was one of white supremacy and the opinion that foreigners threatened jobs and wages.

The obvious goal of American legislators was to continue to strengthen the Caucasian population and limit other ethnic groups. This would be the country’s immigration policy until the 1960’s and it stank to high heaven of eugenics. If the dear reader doubt’s the eugenics angle, let us then explore the interest groups representing eugenics who used biological arguments to promote immigration reform that favored Caucasian ethnic groups and restricted other ethnicities.

As early as 1914 the Surgeon General’s office was staffed with officers who were active members of eugenic groups and were responsible for the medical inspections of immigrants entering the country. Harry Laughlin, director of the Eugenics Record office, conducted a research program to determine ethnic origins for “hereditary defectives” that populated America’s prisons, mental hospitals and charity homes. This research was performed at the request of a political interest group, the Immigration Restriction League. The findings of this research were used to create the legal definition used by Congress to categorize “idiots, imbeciles, feeble-minded persons, epileptics, insane persons… persons of constitutional psychopathic inferiority… and mentally or physically defective…” people as those who were “likely to become a public charge” and therefore denied entry into America.

In 1920, Laughlin’s eugenics study was used by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Immigration and Naturalization to argue that the gene pool of America was being contaminated with immigrants from Eastern and Southern Europe who were defective on intellectual and moral grounds. The restrictive immigration act of 1924 is a direct result of Laughlin’s eugenics research convincing Congress to reduce the number of “inadequate” ethnicities from entering the United States. Ultimately, eugenics wanted to halt altogether the immigration of Italians and Eastern European Jews. The motto coined by President Calvin Coolidge at the signing of the bill, that continued to be echoed throughout the white majority American population was, “America must remain American.” So, that meant, white.

The Jews were unacceptable because of their religion. The Italians were also unacceptable because of Catholicism. But what about those Eastern Europeans? Well, the gringa blames the Red Scare, which occurred during 1919 and 1920, for creating a nationwide fear and distrust aimed at these ethnicities. The civil liberties of these groups of people were abused as Americans feared something similar to the Bolshevik Revolution might occur on U.S. soil because of subversive activities of dissidents, communists and socialists. This resulted in an expression of passionate patriotism by the American people.

The U.S. propaganda machine, under the direction of George Creel, as head of the U.S. Committee on Public Information, used art, advertising and motion pictures to indoctrinate the masses and encourage Americans to report persons who spoke out against the war and in favor of peace. Americans were denied their liberty under the guise of patriotic protection of liberty. Sound familiar? The hypocrisy is obvious now, yet, caught up in the fervor, Americans were ignorant that the very liberty they thought they were protecting they were actually denying to others simply because they expressed a different opinion, philosophy or belief. Sounds a lot like what goes on today when peace proponents criticize the warmongers in D.C. and the “patriots” accuse them of being un-patriotic.

During World War I, the U.S. discovered that war was profitable for the nation. The country had no complaints about all those hard-working immigrants during the fat years. The wartime economy of America had almost nine million Americans employed in war related jobs and about another four million serving in the military. When the war ended, vast unemployment created economic trouble and worker unrest. And, guess who got blamed for all of that trouble? Yep, you guessed it, true to the pattern of the past, the immigrants who were “more different” than the eugenics ideal Caucasian American were to blame.

A socialist group in northwest America created a union which held a strike in 1919. Although no violence occurred, the workers were charged with attempting to incite a revolution. Seattle, where this occurred, became the rally point for nationalist propaganda. Subsequent worker strikes around the country were considered crimes and conspiracies against society and the government. Workers who involved themselves in union activities became more and more persecuted. Despite this, workers continued to unite across the country, demanding better pay and working conditions, such as Boston’s police force and the entire country’s steel industry. Many colleges were considered to be fertile ground for such communist and socialist radicals.

As a result of all of this unrest, in the spring of 1919 the American Legion was created. Their pamphlets declared their mission was to “to foster and perpetuate a one hundred per cent Americanism.” The question I ask is, “Who is defining what ‘one hundred per cent Americanism’ is?”  The Legion’s “patriotic” purpose in action was vigilante justice meted out to suspected “Red” radicals. Their notoriety was so great the phrase was coined, “Leave the Reds to the Legion”. Today’s American Legion posts holding their bingo nights and dances where they serve up gallons of beer to its members was headquarters to the very types of racist oppression we see modeled in KKK activities in the 50’s and 60’s, it was just a different ethnic group that was targeted.

The summer of 1919 delivered to America the General Intelligence Division of Bureau of Investigations with the Justice Department appointing J. Edgar Hoover as its leader. Hoover was to uncover Bolshevik plots and detain or deport all involved conspirators. Civil liberties was the price the nation paid as the nation ignored its own Constitution that guaranteed all equal liberty and protection to all. Freedom of speech, the legal right of all on American soil since December 15, 1791, was all but forgotten if your speech disagreed with what was defined as “American”.

So, what happened to finally soothe this nationalist fervor against people who just didn’t quite fit in and had strange political ideas? Newspapers started feeling the pain in the pocket book when anti-sedition policies interfered with their sensational, headlining stories that sold lots of newspapers. Big industry began feeling the pain in their wallets as well when they realized much of their cheap labor was either in jail or on a boat back home. Racist America began realizing they had shot themselves in their own foot with their bigoted behavior. They decided it was time to behave so the good times could continue to roll. The tables turned and the Americans who had gone after the “Commies” with a rabid vengeance now turned on the “Commie” hunters. Once again we see that true “Americanism” is about pure capitalism with loyalty to no idea or person. Loyalty is solely to the almighty dollar and how to earn another one.

Once patriotic passions had calmed, legislators created the Emergency Quota Act of 1921 as a temporary measure to stem the tide of the immigrants who were considered to be the instigators of all the social trouble of 1919 and 1920. The Immigration Act of 1924 was to be the permanent solution. Purposely left off of the quota list were the Latin ethnicities who were immigrating through Mexico and provided much of the nation’s cheap farm labor. These people would become the new class of cheap imported labor to replace the troublemakers from Southern and Eastern Europe. Specific wording of the legislation defined “non quota immigrants” as originating from Canada, Newfoundland, Mexico, Cuba, Haiti, The Dominican Republic, peoples from the Panama Canal Zone, and Central and South America.

Inspired by the trend of eugenics, it is easy to see the philosophy of Madison Grant as instrumental in the expected goal of this legislation. In his book “The Passing of the Great Race”, penned in 1916, he teaches that eastern Europeans were physically and mentally substandard to Protestant society that descended from northern and western Europeans. He proposed that population controls must be put into place in order to protect the quality of life of current society. The legislation of 1924, specifically the immigration reform that was contained in that pile of paperwork, was the culmination of eugenics. For the next twenty years the population of America would be groomed to be populated by a majority of people of British, and Western and Northern European ancestry. That was the Americanism of 1924, the nation wanted a new and improved white America.

Sources:

https://history.state.gov/milestones/1921-1936/immigration-act

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/coolidge-signs-stringent-immigration-law

http://www.nationsonline.org/oneworld/europe.htm

http://www.eugenicsarchive.org/html/eugenics/essay9text.html

http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/5078/

http://immigrationinamerica.org/590-immigration-act-of-1924.html

http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/SaccoV/redscare.html

http://newsmine.org/content.php?ol=coldwar-imperialism/hoover-red-scare-1919/hoover-red-scare-1919-ch1.txt

http://www.upa.pdx.edu/IMS/currentprojects/TAHv3/Content/PDFs/Immigration_Act_1924.pdf

http://encyclopedia.densho.org/Immigration_Act_of_1924/

Photo credit: www.hsl.virginia.edu

Married Women’s Act of 1922


For the most part, up until the year 1922 in American history, women were rarely mentioned in immigration legislation, except for the Act of 1875. That year Congress dealt with the Chinese prostitution issue.  United States culture of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries considered women under the identity of their husband. It was presumed that any woman would eventually marry and her identity would be tied to her husband. The result of this attitude was a 1907 immigration law requiring women assume the nationality and citizenship status of their husbands upon marriage. This meant that even women born on U.S. soil who married a non-U.S. citizen lost their United States citizenship status. If her husband’s country of origin was involved in a war with the U.S., she may be considered an “enemy alien” and stripped of property and her employment. This happened to scores of women who were married to German and Italian born men when the country entered World War I. Around $25 million in property nationwide was confiscated by the U.S. Although women may not have felt this was fair and desired to have control of their own identity, there wasn’t anything they could do about it until the law changed.

Most immigrant women were discriminated against because the courts would usually not naturalize an alien woman who was married to a foreign born husband. The husband had to become naturalized and then some courts would automatically classify his wife as naturalized as well as any children between them. A woman’s identity was her husband. This also worked the other way around. If a female U.S. citizen married a man who was not a U.S. citizen, his status became her status. In 1907 the Expatriation Act stripped female U.S. citizens of their status if they married foreign born men. The spirit of this law was racism as reflected in the words of Iowa’s Republican Representative Nathan Kendall who stated, “We do not want our girls to marry foreigners.”

There were some legally savvy women who managed to circumvent this technicality and also obtain their own personal property by way of the Homestead Act, thus maintaining their legal status of U.S. citizen even though they married a foreign born husband. However, not every woman was successful choosing this route. The reality for women in the early history of America was that society discriminated against women in general, and even more harshly discriminated against white women who married another race. If the gringa had faced this national attitude after meeting her Peruvian caveman, she would have gladly traded her country for her man.

Prior to 1907, there was no specific legal language written into immigration laws regarding women. Immigrating women then could only hope in their case being handled by a sympathetic court because each court applied their own interpretation of current immigration laws. From 1790 until 1802 immigration laws specified “free white persons” as having the right to the naturalization process without gender determination. It was the social practice of that time to interpret “persons” as being male and this male represented the females of his household. The only women specifically mentioned by immigration laws were the widows of men who had qualified and applied for citizenship but died before the process was complete or foreign born women who became citizens when they married American men.

On August 18, 1920, the power of the women’s suffrage movement resulted in the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which gave women the right to vote. It is no coincidence that within two years of this event politicians realized they were going to have to listen to the voices of half the country’s constituents. The Married Women’s Act of 1922 (also known as the Cable Act, the Married Women’s Independent Citizenship Act or the Married Women’s Independent Nationality Act) is the second monument to the empowerment of women of that generation. Section three stated, “That a woman citizen of the United States shall not cease to be a citizen of the United States by reason of her marriage after the passage of this Act, unless she makes a formal renunciation of her citizenship.” A woman who had lost her citizenship status from 1907 until 1922, because of marriage to a foreign man, could apply for naturalization. The only exception was if they married a man who was ineligible for American citizenship because of his race, such as Chinese, Japanese, or Filipino. However, nine years later, on March 3, 1931, an amendment allowed these women to finally maintain their U.S. citizenship status. At last, women were a recognized class of American citizens in their own right.

Prior to 1920, a woman’s citizenship status was not considered important because they could not vote and any property they owned became their husband’s. This was the legal practice of “coverture”, a British legal principle imported with the founding fathers. The Nineteenth Amendment changed that. In order to vote, a woman had to be a citizen. It was now more important than ever that a woman retain her individual identity no matter who she chose to marry. Legislators who wanted or needed the female vote were going to have to respond with legislation to protect the citizenship status of their electorate. Again, we see immigration reform motivated not by the minds of lawmakers opening and maturing with a new-found respect for a woman’s right to be treated equal but rather by the desire to maintain power by pandering to a class of people who will respond to their actions favorably and give them their votes. So, in 1922 legislators gave this newly empowered voting class what they wanted. A woman’s nationality was her own with naturalization terms equal to that of men.

The United States had come a long way from the society of our founding fathers. The dreams of the wives of those founding fathers had finally come true. In 1876, in a letter Abigail Adams wrote to her husband, President John Adams, she stated, “I cannot say that I think you are very generous to the ladies; for, whilst you are proclaiming peace and good-will to men, emancipating all nations, you insist upon retaining an absolute power over wives.” Even earlier than Abigail Adam’s letter, in 1790, Judith Sargent Murray, an American poet and advocate for women’s rights, wrote “men generate inequality and formulate rules of society for their own benefit with no regard for women’s needs”. Once again the true history of the United States reveals a nation originally designed to be a male dominated, capitalist society, preserving the racial superiority of the white majority and serving national and international economic and political interests rather than the needs of the women and non-white races within the country. None of this surprises the gringa.

 

Sources:

http://immigrationinamerica.org/397-cable-act-of-1922.html

http://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/1998/summer/women-and-naturalization-1.html

http://www.ndhs.org/s/1012/images/editor_documents/library/issues_and_controversies_in_american_history_-_cable_act__1922_.pdf

http://www.history.com/topics/womens-history/19th-amendment

https://www.academia.edu/1508503/Married_Women_s_Citizenship_in_the_United_States_for_a_Century_and_a_Half_An_Overview

 

Photo credit:

www.thephonograph.co.uk

Scott Act of 1888, A Dangerous Precedence


From a young age my school drilled into my little gringa head the virtues of the United States and how those virtues are all wrapped up in the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and the U.S. Constitution. I have been taught that the strength of my country and the legitimacy of my right to liberty are the results of these documents penned by the founding fathers of my country. I hear political pundits and legal eagles claim that these documents are irrefutable, unchangeable, unchallengeable. All my life I have believed that no matter how dark things may seem in my own country that, because we all have the inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, in the end, all will come out right. Boy was this gringa wrong. All who pound their political pulpits about our nation being created and determined upon the legal foundation established by these three documents, I tell you the legal validity of these three documents was all shot to hell in 1888.

The Act of 1888, commonly called the Scott Act of 1888, was signed into law October 1, 1888, during the administration of President Grover Cleveland by the First Session of the Fiftieth Congress of the United States. It can be found in the 1064th Chapter and contains four sections that are supplemental to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 which modified the terms of the Burlingame-Seward Treaty of 1868. The Burlingame-Seward Treaty opened America’s borders to all Chinese immigrants. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 prohibited immigration of Chinese prostitutes and “coolies”, Chinese laborers who entered under a labor contract. There were many Chinese on American soil lawfully at the time the Scott Act was enacted. However, they were no longer welcome. The Scott Act of 1888 stipulates the following:

  • Sec. 1 – Prohibited entry into the country of any Chinese whether a new arrival immigrant or even if a returning Chinese resident who left with legal resident status before the passage of the act and returned without knowledge that their status had changed. All Chinese with legal residence status, even if they are still within the borders of the U.S., will become illegal at the passage of this act.
  • Sec. 2 – Any certificate issued according to immigration law affected by the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 becomes invalid by the passing of this act.
  • Sec. 3 – Taxes and penalties for violation established by past legislation remain in effect.
  • Sec. 4 – Any law contradictory to this act is repealed.

In essence, the United States was making it very clear that Chinese were not welcome and were, in effect, being kicked out of the country and banned from entry. Unfortunately, there were some poor souls who departed America before the passage of this legislation and had no idea that, although they had legal resident status when they left the U.S., they would get their eviction notice when they returned. These were people who had lived and worked here for years. They had built a life here. All of their possessions were here. They had money in the bank here. And, they lost it all without any notice. I believe that to be a serious injustice executed by a country that claims to offer equality and protection to the oppressed of the world and invites them to immigrate and build a life in the great melting pot of the United States of America. What a load of horse crap. You can have the rug pulled out from under you at any time if your skin color is not the right shade or if you are practicing the wrong religion.

Eventually over 20,000 Chinese would be displaced by this law. Exiting the country with legal residence status and proper documentation, they were denied entry upon their return to the U.S. A denial that meant they lost all possessions they had accumulated during the years they had worked and contributed to the country. Another 600 Chinese had left their native country before the passage of this act. In good faith they invested an incredible amount of money and time to hazard a long and dangerous ocean voyage to work in a strange country that had given their homeland favor nation status only to arrive and have the door slammed in their face.

A prime example is the Supreme Court case Chae Chan Ping v. United States, which was decided in favor of the U.S. (big surprise) on May 13, 1889. Ping was a Chinese laborer who had been working and living in San Francisco, California from 1875 until 1887 when he left for China with the intention of returning. When he departed the United States in June of 1887, the passage of the Scott Act was well over a year away. Ping had all the legal documentation he was required to have and innocently returned in September of 1888 and was denied entry and detained aboard the ship he arrived in. He filed a lawsuit that he was unlawfully restrained and denied his liberty. The court ordered he be remanded into the custody of the shipmaster. The United States treated as a criminal a man who had abided by the law as he knew the law. A man who had worked and contributed to the growth and production of our country was treated like a criminal. Why? Because he was a Chinese who was in the wrong place at the wrong time and the documents he thought provided a status that would entitle him to rights and protection had been invalidated behind his back.

A Supreme Court Justice who opined on the Chae Chan Ping case stated, “[T]he act is assailed as being in effect an expulsion from the country of Chinese laborers”. I find very troubling this reversal of section five of the Burlingame-Seward Treaty of 1868 which established: “The United States of America and the emperor of China cordially recognize the inherent and inalienable right of man to change his home and allegiance, and also the mutual advantage of the free migration and emigration of their citizens and subjects…”

If immigration was an “inalienable right” and yet was outlawed by U.S. Congress what does that mean for the security of the rest of the American population? Dictionaries define “inalienable right” as meaning a natural law and not one that can be denied by manmade law. This is how it is interpreted and applied when used with regard to the U.S. Declaration of Independence. The inalienable rights of all humanity, as set forth in the Declaration of Independence, are the inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The Scott Act of 1888 has therefore set a dangerous legal precedence of the power the United States actually wields over what it defines as an “inalienable right”.

In 1868 the United States declared it an inalienable right of man to change his home and freely migrate where he pleases. Twenty years later, motivated by greed and racism, the United States revoked this inalienable right. The Supreme Court of the land supported the position and authority of the United States to do so. The legal precedence has been set. It is actually at the pleasure of the United States government that we get to exercise our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These rights can be revoked at any time the U.S. government pleases.

As I consider the fickle unfaithfulness of the U.S. government’s policies toward the Chinese, this gringa can only think, “My, my, my, how quickly we forget our roots. The Americans of 1888 obviously do not remember that they descended from uninvited guests who arrived as strangers to this country after a dangerous voyage at sea and were welcomed and fed and cared for by the natives of this land.” I look around my barrio and believe I find much more integrity, kindness and loyalty wrapped up in skin that is darker than my own. I am proud that the people of my barrio have adopted me as one of their own. In the barrio it’s not about skin color, it’s about culture. If you work hard, love greatly and help generously, you are welcome. I thought that’s how it’s supposed to be in America. Sadly, it’s not.

Understand that America is a country that conditions its people to believe the U.S. government is “by the people and for the people” and its purpose is to protect our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It’s not. The purpose of the U.S. government is to keep the masses manageable so that the country can continue to grow richer and more powerful. If you interfere in that process, you and your “rights” will get the boot out the door.

Sources:

http://everything2.com , The Scott Act of 1888

http://immigrants.harpweek.com, The Chinese American Experience: 1857-1892, Scott Act (1888)

https://supreme.justia.com, The Chinese Exclusion Case 130 U.S. 581 (1889) U.S. Supreme Court

http://dictionary.reference.com, (definition of inalienable right)

http://www.archives.gov, The Declaration of Independence: A Transcription

Photo credit:  www.migrationpolicy.org

Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, The Racist Agenda Behind American Propaganda of Liberty and Equality


After the United States had passed the Fourteenth Amendment on July 9, 1868, declaring that all persons born in the United States are citizens, entitled to equal liberty and protection, then later passed the Naturalization Act of 1870, specifically section 7, declaring all African descendants the right to citizenship, this gringa thought that the U.S. was moving away from creating immigration policies that were motivated by power and greed politics. Unfortunately, the administrations of Presidents Ulysses S. Grant (1869-1877) and Rutherford B. Hayes (1877-1881) seemed to follow a capitalist economic agenda that profited from racist policies designed to exploit a specific immigrant labor class.

The image the United States portrayed to the world of having the moral high ground as a nation of liberty built on Christian principals was, in reality, a sham to dupe the masses. The passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, along with friendly political conversations between Hayes and a racist national labor party leader, reveal the truth behind the wholesome propaganda America peddled to an unsuspecting China during the time of Reconstruction.

Immigration requirements in effect before the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 were:

  • Eligible for citizenship were free, white, male immigrants, both genders of African descendants of U.S. slaves, and both genders of Chinese peoples.
  • Specifically excluded from immigration were felons (except for political prisoners), prostitutes of all races, and Chinese men, commonly called “coolies”, who immigrated under a labor contract

The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was a series of stipulations to affect the conditions of the Burlingame-Seward Treaty of 1868, signed under President Andrew Johnson’s term. That treaty, establishing favored nation status for China, opened up the borders of the United States in order that the Chinese could freely immigrate. In the course of the fourteen years that elapsed between the Treaty and the Exclusion Act, what happened for public sentiment to become so hostile to the Chinese peoples? To understand, we must go back in time seventeen years prior to 1882.

1865 was the year of Union victory over the South in the Civil War. However, this was no time for celebration. The end of the war simply meant that the nation had to be rebuilt. Half of the nation, the South, had been stripped of the labor force that had created its wealth when slavery was abolished. Property values plummeted and vital railroad arteries were damaged. The administration of President Ulysses S. Grant, elected in 1868, would be responsible for overseeing the rebuilding of a nation.

How, then, would the country be able to afford to rebuild? President Andrew Johnson’s great idea was to turn to China and import cheap labor, hence the Burlingame-Seward Treaty of 1868. When Grant took office the following year, his ideas on how to fund the rebuilding of a nation either failed or were exposed for their corruption. One of his first bright ideas was to sign the Public Credit Act in March 1869. Yes, President Grant, let’s solve the problem of not having enough money by paying for goods and services with imaginary money. The gringa thinks Grant might have been a great general, but he obviously never balanced a checkbook.

Later in the same year, Grant would get himself in trouble again by enabling guys, who were already millionaires, to artificially inflate the gold market so they could make themselves some more money. One million dollars in 1869 would be worth about $17.5 million today. Gee, I guess Grant’s buddies, Jay Gould and Jim Fisk, were high maintenance if what they already had was not enough so they felt it was okay to rip off a nation of people who were struggling to recover from the destruction of their country. Does the term “war profiteer” come to mind? Yep, it’s nothing new. So, as Grant went along with the plan and the price of gold rose, he ordered the Treasury to sell a big mess of it which then caused the bubble to burst. Wham, take that hard-working Americans scraping to make a dime.

And if that wasn’t a big enough insult to the whole of America that Grant was supposed to be working for, he then got into bed with Union Pacific Railroad during the 1872 re-election campaign, which he needed lots of money to fund. As President, Grant was the leader of the Republican party, thus, whether directly involved or not, he was still accountable for the actions of the other Republicans in office. Oakes Ames, Republican House member from Massachusetts, distributed amongst fellow Congressmen shares of the construction company Credit Mobilier, a company contracted to build a large portion of the Union Pacific Railroad. Ames stated that the stock was “where it will produce the most good to us.” Among the recipients of these shares was the incumbent Vice President, a Vice Presidential candidate, the current Speaker of the House, and future President James Garfield. All being Republican cronies of Grant’s, I find it hard to believe Grant didn’t know how his campaign was being bankrolled.

Shortly after Grant won Presidential re-election in 1872, the railroad building business roared into a construction frenzy. No big surprise there. Unfortunately, this was the catalyst for one of the worst, and longest, economic depressions the U.S. had ever experienced up to that time. The gringa says, “Muchas gracias, Grant.”

Now, what would be the big plan to get all of these angry Americans off the backs of the political leaders? Hmm, how about fanning the flames of a race and labor war? That might do the trick! Seems to me that was the strategy of the Grant administration, and, later, President Rutherford B. Hayes followed his lead. I think, perhaps, presidential thinking went something like this, “So, after reaching out to another nation and selling them on the propaganda that America is the land of the free, where everyone is equal and enjoys equal protection of their liberty, thus tricking them into immigrating so we could exploit them for cheap labor, now we don’t need them for labor anymore. Instead, to get the heat off our backs, we can use them for a scapegoat and get rid of them for good. I mean, after all, we are actually capitalist racists, aren’t we? We don’t really like their kind anyway, do we? I mean, that was how we were able to exploit them in the first place without bad feelings weighing down our conscience, wasn’t it? We made a huge profit, after all, didn’t we?” Yep, that seems to me to be the very line of logic all of America eventually followed thanks to the leadership of President Ulysses S. Grant. What a model of all things American.

In 1868 when the treaty was signed allowing for open immigration of all Chinese, Reconstruction was in full swing but, soon after, the country was beginning to feel the sting of Grant’s cronyism that drove his economic policy. The California Gold Rush was winding down and the Chinese were finding work in the construction of the railroad. Despite the fact that only about .002 percent of the American population was Chinese, they were still blamed for dropping wage rates and all the problems with the American economy. Sounds familiar to the cries heard round the country today about how the undocumented workers are “stealing” all the jobs. There is nothing new under the sun when it comes to political disinformation campaigns.

I mean, I see plenty of “for hire” signs and want ads. I’m pretty confident there are enough jobs to go around. If you are having trouble getting a job, rather than poke your finger at an undocumented worker, go take a good hard look in the mirror. If an undocumented worker can travel to another country, not speak the language, and have no legal identification yet still manage to find a job, then why the heck can’t an American citizen, with all the privileges and advantages that goes with such a position, find a darn job? Methinks the problem is NOT with the undocumented worker. But, I digress, back to the Chinese labor problem of the 1880’s.

So, now it’s been established that the country, after the economic distress of the Reconstruction period, is slowly starting to enjoy a little progress. With the construction of the railroad and what that will mean to moving goods across the country, hopes are high for the economy to grow. The racist opportunists in Washington were now primed to get rid of the Chinese so the real Americans could keep the expected future wealth amongst themselves. So, by the time 1878 rolled around and President Grant had been replaced by President Hayes (big difference), how do we know Hayes felt this way? Well, he had a meeting with firebrand, labor leader, Dennis Kearney, who was well known for his passionate racism against the Chinese. This meeting, as well as many of Dennis Kearney’s stirring speeches, became a recorded, historical document. Back then, political correctness was not around so U.S. politicians opined freely and openly about racism, as indicated by the following excerpts from Kearney’s book “Speeches of Dennis Kearney, Labor Champion”:

  • From Kearney’s speech to Boston Workingmen’s party August 5, 1878: “The workingmen of California are becoming overpressed. The capitalistic thief and land pirate of California, instead of employing the poor white man of that beautiful and golden State, send across to Asia, the oldest despotism on earth, and there contracting with a band of leprous Chinese pirates, brought them to California, and now uses them as a knife to cut the throats of honest laboring men in that State. A Chinaman will live on rice and rats… They will sleep one hundred in a room that one white man wants for his wife and family… and every man for the past fifteen years… that was elected upon the workingmen’s platform… was chosen upon an anti-Chinese plank.”
  • From Kearney’s speech to Boston Workingmen’s party August 5, 1878: “by the earth and all its inhabitants, and by hell beneath us, the Chinese must go”
  • From Kearney’s speech to Boston Workingmen’s party August 8, 1878: “Let me caution working men not to employ Chinese laundry men. They are filthy; they spit on clothes, and if they have any disease it is transmitted to men and women through such washed clothing when the body perspires. Do you want leprosy here?”
  • From Kearney’s speech to Boston Workingmen’s party August 8, 1878: “We will do it with our bullets if our ballots fail. We will drive these moon-eyed lepers back by steamship and by sail”
  • From Kearney’s speech to Lynn, Massachusetts, Workingmen’s party August 12, 1878: “They are going to import 1,500 pig-tailed lepers into Chicago”
  • From Kearney’s speech to Lynn, Massachusetts, Workingmen’s party August 12, 1878: “All we ask of you is to help us to rid that beautiful golden State of these lepers”
  • August 28, 1878, discussion between President Rutherford B. Hayes and Dennis Kearney: “Kearney – ‘Well, Mr. Hayes, how do you account for the depression in business?’ Hayes then with a great many graceful gestures, and with much earnestness, discussed the subject, speaking about the war, the extravagance of flush times, and the reaction. ‘I think’, he [Hayes] continued, ‘it is at its lowest ebb. I think the tide will soon turn, even without a war. Every fifteen or twenty years, as regular as the ebb of the tide, there is a depression in business that is hard to account for…’ Hayes nodded, and answered, ‘Yes, Mr. Kearney, and without agreeing with you in a great many propositions you advance, I wish to say this: That your going about the country and speaking in the manner you do you are doing good work, noble service. You are concentrating the minds of the people on these evils, and the people are bound to rectify the great wrongs perpetrated by the system growing out of the war.’”

Hayes was more than willing to let the Chinese be the scapegoat for the failure of the American economy to thrive. If he had been more interested in dealing with the truth in an effort to correct the real reasons for the depressed national economy, the need to deflect the anger of the masses toward the Chinese might not have been necessary.

The treaty with China had enabled American industry to profit during Reconstruction by effectively enslaving the Chinese with extremely low wages. These fiscal politics resulted in labor class competition between the Chinese and the homegrown U.S. labor class, a class with a standard of living that could not be maintained if they accepted lower pay on par with what the Chinese were making. Rather than American labor recognize the right for any person, Chinese included, to determine what they will or will not find acceptable as a wage, they chose racist demonization of the Chinese. Although the Chinese were made out to be the villains, it was American politics of greed and power that were actually to blame for America’s economic woes.

What has the gringa learned from all this?  It’s all propaganda that America is equal opportunity. This is a bill of goods sold to the average working person who is too busy grubbing away at their regular jobs, paying the bills and tending to their family to bother with effecting change of the real America, a nation designed and orchestrated by wealthy elites who continue to capitalize off the backs of the working class. And if they get exposed and the labor class brings down the heat on them, they in turn sow the seed of conflict in order to create class wars so that the population starts blaming each other rather than staying focused on the truth.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. I enjoy my working class life. I’m just tired of die-hard Patriots getting apoplectic and calling people nasty names like “unpatriotic” when someone speaks the truth about how America really operates and how it was really designed. I’m not advocating class warfare, I’m just saying the labor class has been purposely created and carefully groomed and maintained for the purpose of enriching those who created it and their successors. The truth is the truth whether it’s a pleasant truth or a harsh truth. Stating a harsh truth is not criticizing, it’s simply pointing out what’s true. I, for one, do not go around setting myself up to be lied to. I’ll be the first to tell you to shut up if I think I’m being fed a line of horse crap. So, the propaganda that the founding fathers of America were these high-minded, religious freedom fighters who were wanting to build a new nation where everyone could be equal and free is a bunch of nonsense. I say, “Shut up! No they were not!”

In my opinion they were a bunch of rebellious British subjects who had wealth that they wanted to protect and keep private rather than let the King claim it as crown property. The only way to do that would be for them to flee the kingdom with their wealth and travel to a place out of the King’s reach. The best chance they had to leave the country with all of their wealth in their possession, would be to go with the King’s blessing. I think their cunning plan was to convince the King that they were volunteers who wanted to settle the colonies of the New World. And, so, they ran off, far off, far enough that their king could not effectively monitor what they were actually up to. Then, upon arrival,  they cried foul due to religious oppression and began the propaganda campaign to brainwash the masses into cooperating with their desire to create a capitalist nation.

Why do American historians try to convince us of untruths simply because they sound more noble? Is there anything so terribly wrong with the Puritans running off in order to keep their hard earned money to themselves? I don’t see the need to lie about the Puritans’ motives.

A careful study of Britain’s religious climate at that time tells a different story than the one our historians credit to the Puritans. The reality is that the first colonial arrivals at Plymouth in 1620 were ruled over by King James I who was a devout Protestant. He desired to blend the faiths of Anglicanism, Catholicism and Presbyterianism in order to create a sense of national unity.  The Puritans real issue of religious intolerance was not that England was intolerant, but, that they, the Puritans, were intolerant of anything resembling Catholicism. The religious intolerance argument then falls flat with the gringa. So, if they didn’t come here to escape religious intolerance, it had to be the money. Nothing else makes sense.

Judging by the subsequent actions throughout the years of colonization in the New World, it would seem that the true motivator for the Puritans was that they wanted to keep their personal wealth. The Puritans were not victims. They ran off to the new world, seeded their wealth in the fledgling economies of new colonies, then nurtured these economies until they were strong enough to finance a war in order to completely break the yoke of the crown. And, they designed the laws of the colonies, and eventually the country, to benefit the wealthy in order that they maintain their wealth and power by the fruits of the labor class. And political power was also vested in the same people who controlled the wealth. That is the truth about America. It’s always been about the money, and it always will be.

And it was all about the money, with a side order of racism, in 1882 with the Chinese Exclusion Act.

Sources:

www.ourdocuments.gov, Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, (transcript)

http://racism.org, Burlingame-Seward Treaty of 1868 (transcript)

www.american-historama.org, “Credit Mobilier Scandal”, by Linda Alchin

www.history.com, “Chinese Exclusion Act”, “The Reader’s Companion to American History”, by Eric Foner and John A. Garraty, Editors

archive.org, “Speeches of Dennis Kearney, Labor Champion (1878)”, by Dennis Kearney

http://www.oxfordreference.com/, “James I & VI – Religious Policy”

Photo credit: http://cndls.georgetown.edu