« AnteriorContinuar »
PASSAGE OF ASSEMBLY ALIEN LAND BILL
The Alien Land bill which the Assembly Judiciary Committee sent to the floor of the Assembly had been drawn by a sub-committee. To this sub-committee had been referred all the Assembly measures bearing upon the question of alien land ownership. The sub-committee's bill was in effect a substitute for four 206 meas
It combined many of the best features of them all. It did not discriminate against the Japanese or other Asiatics except as they were stockholders in corporations. It included all aliens within its provisions. Under it, no alien could acquire land and hold it for a longer period than one year.207 The measure con
206 Assembly Bill 10 (Cary), Assembly Bill 113 (Shearer), Assembly Bill 183 (Bradford) and Assembly Bill 194 (Finnegan).
207 The bill provided:
(1) That an alien could acquire real property and hold it for one year, and not longer.
(2) That when property was found to be held contrary to the provisions of the act, the District Attorney of the county in which such property was located should proceed against it. If it were determined at the trial that the land was illegally held the Court was required to render judgment condemning it, and ordering it to be sold as in foreclosure of mortgage. The proceedings of such sale after deducting the costs of the proceeding were to be paid to the clerk of the Court rendering the judgment, where the same were to remain for one year from date of such payment, subject to the order of the alien owner of such real property, his heirs and legal representatives, and if not claimed within the period of one year such clerk was required to pay the same into the treasury of the State for the benefit of the available school funds of the State.
(3) The act did not apply to real property owned at the time by aliens, so long as the same were held by the owners, their wives and children.
(4) No lease of land could be made to an alien for a longer period than five years.
(5) Corporations, the majority of whose capital stock was owned by aliens ineligible to become citizens were declared to be aliens within the meaning of the act and ineligible to own land.
tained a leasing clause, however, permitting of aliens holding real property under lease for a period not to exceed five years.
The measure as submitted by the sub-committee to the Judiciary Committee contained no provision to bar corporations the stock of which was held by aliens from land ownership. In the committee a section was added to include such corporations. The section read as follows:
"Section 8–Every corporation, the majority of the issued capital stock of which is owned by aliens who are ineligible to become citizens of the United States under the naturalization laws thereof, shall be considered an alien within the meaning of this act.”
About this section, when the measure came up for final action in the Assembly on April 15, the principal opposition developed.
Cary of Fresno offered an amendment to strike out the entire section,
Sutherland of Fresno backed the amendment, but Inman, Stuckenbruck, Ryan, Smith, Johnston, Bloodgood, Wall and Murray spoke against the amendment vigorously.
Inman insisted that to strike out the section would permit three or more aliens to band together for the purpose of holding land. He announced that the striking of the section from the bill would be equivalent to the defeat of the measure.
Stuckenbruck referred to the astonishing day four years before when Speaker Phil Stanton felt "the ground slipping from under his feet" and gave his seventy-nine colleagues such a scare that they, too, gave evidence of feeling themselves on uncertain ground.208 Stuckenbruck took occasion to express his satisfaction that “California ground had become firmer; that a California Legislature could do what it wanted to do; that a President was in the White House who would not interfere in what is a purely State matter."
Brown of San Mateo gave expression to much the same sentiment, congratulating the Legislature that it had “the nerve to face the question,” and stating that no word had come from Washington as at former sessions. Brown expressed the hope that the President would have the will to let California settle the question in her own way.
Cary, in support of his amendment, stated that during the four years that have passed since 1909, the Japanese have increased their California land holdings by only 1,935 acres. He held it was folly to deny an alien corporation the right to hold land.
The proponents of the Cary amendment made little headway, however. The amendment was defeated by a vote of eight for to sixty-four against.209
208 See “Story of the California Legislature of 1909," page 210. 209 The vote on the Cary amendment was as follows:
For the Cary amendment-Cary, Fish, Gates, Guiberson, Johnstone, W. A.; Kuck, Schmitt and Sutherland–8.
Against the Cary amendment-Alexander, Ambrose, Bagby, Beck, Benedict, Bloodgood, Bohnett, Bowman, Bradford, Brown, Bush, Canepa, Clark, Wm. C.; Clarke, Geo. A.; Collins, Dower, Ellis, Emmons, Farwell, Ferguson, Finnegan, Ford, Gabbert, Gelder, Green, Griffin, Guill, Hayes, Inman, Johnson, Geo. H.; Johnston, T. D.; Judson, Killingsworth, Kingsley, Libby, McCarthy, McDonald, Moorhouse, Morgenstern, Mouser, Murray, Nelson, Nolan, Palmer, Peairs, Polsley, Richardson, Roberts, Ryan, Scott, Shannon, Shartel, Shearer, Simpson, Slater, Smith, Stuckenbruck, Tulloch, Wall, Walsh, Weisel, Weldon, White, and Young-64.
Shannon of San Francisco offered an amendment to the same section, but Bradford denounced the proposed amendment as useless, and the Assembly with a roar of "noes" went on record as regarding it useless also.210
A second attack upon the measure was made by Johnstone. Johnstone offered an amendment to the first section of the act to make it apply only to aliens ineligible to become citizens under the naturalization laws of the United States.
Ellis of Riverside spoke in favor of the proposed amendment. He stated that foreign capital has done much to develop California. He did not believe in discouraging it. Nor did he believe in dodging an issue. He admitted that the Johnstone amendment brought the issue into the open. But if the Legislature of California is determined to bring up the Japanese-Chinese issue, he held that it should be met on its merits.
Nelson of Humboldt backed the amendment, as did Bowman of Santa Cruz and Canepa of San Francisco.
But Assembly leaders contended hotly against it.
"When a foreigner comes to the United States," thundered Inman, "pledged to remain subject to his king, he cannot become a good American citizen. He should not be permitted to own American soil." 211
210 Shannon's amendment was not clearly presented nor its purpose made plain. His amendment would have made the section read: "Every corporation the majority of the issued capital stock of which is owned by (or the majority of the members of which are] aliens who are ineligible to become citizens of the United States under the naturalization laws thereof, shall be considered an alien within the meaning of this act."
The words in black face type, inclosed in brackets, are those offered in the Shannon amendment.
211 The growing sentiment that the exploiting of California' by foreign capital is not advantageous but positively detrimental to the State, is expressed by J. 0. Davis, Chairman of the Democratic State Central Committee as follows:
"The alien ownership of land question in California could be
“This,” said Chandler of Fresno, “is a question of race. It is a question of whether you are to permit the cheap labor of Southern Europe to take possession of our soil and drive out the American people."
The Johnstone amendment received a larger affirmative vote than did Cary's, but it, too, was overwhelmingly defeated, fifty-six votes being cast against it and only twenty for it.212
settled permanently and satisfactorily by the enactment of legislation prohibiting the ownership of land by all aliens of whatever race or nationality.
“The enactment of legislation prohibiting the ownership of land by the citizens of any particular country means inevitable conflict between the State and the treaty-making power of our Government. The safe and sound course would be to avoid the possibility of any such conflict by enacting legislation that puts all aliens on an exact equality.
“During the recent agitation of the alien ownership of land question, legislation directed against all aliens without distinction was opposed on the ground that our State needs foreign capital for its development. This objection, however, will not bear investigation, as foreign capital exploits rather than develops. All the prof it of such development is taken out of the country and does our own people and our own State no good whatever.
"The only possible advantage coming to us from the development of natural resources by a foreign corporation is giving us the opportunity to sell to such corporation, labor and material. Those of our citizens who have advantageous connections with such corporations are also profited, but we can hardly consider any less than the whole people when considering legislation.
“Our conservation program contemplates the regulation of all natural resources for the benefit of the whole people. We are disregarding this principle if we permit our legislative conduct to be influenced in the interest of any less number of citizens than all our citizens. We cannot, therefore, consider the relatively small number of people who are benefited by the presence of foreign corporations engaged in developing our resources. Every citizen has an interest in the profits accruing from such development, and if the profits are being taken from the country, our citizens are being deprived of their interest in resources that belong to all our people.
The highest privilege that can be conferred on a citizen by the Government is the right to hold title to a part of his country, and that man who is not sufficiently interested in our country and our institutions to declare his intention to become a citizen is not entitled to have conferred upon him the right and the honor to own American soil."
212 The vote on the Johnstone amendment was:
For the Johnstone amendment-Bagby, Benedict, Bowman, Canepa, Cary, Clarke, Geo. A.; Cram, Ellis, Emmons, Fish, Gabbert, Gates, Guiberson, Johnstone, W. A.; Kuck, Nelson, Roberts, Slater, Strine, and Woodley-20.
Against the Johnstone amendment-Alexander, Ambrose, Beck,