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These hearings came to a sudden ending on the night of April 2. A joint meeting of Senate and Assembly Judiciary Committees had been arranged for that evening
Officials and high-salaried employees of the PanamaPacific Company for the last time presented their case. They were answered by the plain-speaking farmers of the Sacramento valley.
And the burden of the farmers' argument, convincingly presented, was, that if one must be sacrificed, legislation to bar Asiatics from the land, or the PanamaPacific Exposition, it would be better for all concerned that the Exposition be abandoned.
THE EXPOSITION'S LAST STAND.
The last committee hearing on the alien land bills was held in the Senate Chamber. The room was filled. The Directorate of the Exposition had made elaborate preparations to impress the farmers who were to be present, as well as the members of the committee, that the Exposition is the most important thing in California, before which all other considerations must give way. In this they not only met with signal failure, but demonstrated their inability to appreciate the attitude of the farming districts on the land question,
Nor were the farming communities alone represented. Labor had representatives there to urge the passage of the bills, and capital was represented there also, as insistent as farmer and laborer for the bills' passage.
The Exposition people, with unlimited funds at their disposal, had prepared generously for the entertainment of opponents and committeemen. A complete moving picture outfit had been set up in the Senate Chamber. Scattered throughout the
were well-gowned women and carefully groomed men, wearing conspicuously badges—“Do it for San Francisco;" that is to say, For San Francisco, defeat these anti-Asiatic meas
The busy legislators had set aside the evening for the purpose of hearing arguments for and against the bills. Instead, they were compelled to sit until nearly ten o'clock looking at indifferent moving pictures, and listening to a purposeless lecture of what the Exposition was doing, and what it was going to do for California.
"The moving picture display,” said one opponent, an Elk Grove farmer, in his address to the committee, "reminds me of the farmers' method of handling bees. We puff a little smoke into the hive to stupefy the bees. Then we take the honey. The Panama-Pacific Exposition people have, with their pictures, puffed a little smoke at us. But it has not put us to sleep."
The vaudeville feature of the proceedings finally concluded, the officials and employees of the Exposition presented their arguments against the bills.
Acting President Hale and Director-in-Chief Frederick J. V. Skiff 203 made the principal arguments.
President Hale stated that California owes it to the Federal Government, which has invited the world to San Francisco in 1915, to make the Exposition a success. The State is under further obligation to the participating Nations of the world to make it a success. The directors of the Exposition are serving without compensation. Their work is bringing results. "All contracts for Exposition buildings would,” he said, "be let by July, 1913; the buildings will be completed by July, 1914. But if the Exposition is to be the success The People expect it to be, it must be universal, world-wide.
203 Frederick J. V. Skiff is employed by the Exposition Company as an expert on expositions. He devotes half his time to the Exposition, for which he receives $15,000 a year. This is at the rate of $30,000 a year, three times the amount paid the Goyernor of the State.
"To insure this success," said Mr. Hale, "we must have the cooperation of every man, woman and child in California. When you consider alien land legislation at this time you are treading on very dangerous ground. Everything connected with the Exposition is upward now. If any Nation hesitate, then the course downward begins, and none can say where the stop will be. It is for the legislators to determine whether they want to make the Exposition one thing or the other.”
Director-in-Chief Skiff also dwelt upon the necessity of making the Exposition universal. Up to a few months before he had held, to use his own words, that "this exposition would be in the highest degree a careful, a complete and a systematic demonstration of the status of the world and the intellectual condition of its people.” But Mr. Skiff's views had changed. The pending anti-Japanese legislation had filled him with doubt. He stated that he would be lacking in his duty, as would the Exposition directorate, if he failed to make these doubts clear to the legislators.
Matt I. Sullivan, President of the State Exposition Commission, stated that failure to have the Japanese participate in the Exposition would result in the Exposition failing to be universal. From a universal Exposition it would dwindle down to a mere State Exposition. He stated, however, that he would rather not have an Exposition at all, then to have the Japanese gain a foothold in California as they have in Hawaii. He did not think, however, that the State would suffer greatly if the Legislature at this time failed to pass anti-alien land laws. By passing such laws Europe will be affected as well as Asia. Hundreds of thousands who would otherwise visit the Exposition would, he said, not come.
The proponents of the anti-alien measures had neither moving picture show nor dazzling Exposition possibilities with which to entertain or tempt. But they had facts. And they presented those facts with smashing conviction.
When they had done, the issue-Shall California be white or yellow?-loomed larger than, Shall the Exposition be universal or merely local ?
Ralph Newman, a Sacramento Valley farmer, was typical of the farmers who appeared to urge the passage of the bill. He was not eloquent; he gave no evidence of being a $30,000-a-year man. But his words did carry conviction.
“The argument of the Exposition Directors," said Newman, "amounts to this: If we pass an alien land law now, Japan will bite off her nose to spite her face, and the blood may muss things up. Therefore, let us wait two years, and then we'll soak her. But I want to tell you that if the Japanese Government is as keen as the Japanese who are getting our land, those tactics will not work.
"Near my home is an eighty-acre tract of as fine land as there is in California. On that land lives a Japanese. With that Japanese lives a white woman. In that woman's arms is a baby.
“What is that baby? It isn't a Japanese. It isn't white. I'll tell you what that baby is. It is a germ of the mightiest problem that ever faced this State; a problem that will make the black problem of the South look white.