« AnteriorContinuar »
of Illinois where no distinction is made between aliens and a liberal time is allowed during which an alien can hold property.232
(3) That if still further restrictions be deemed necessary that such a law be passed as the District of Columbia now has, where the ownership of real estate is confined to citizens and to those who have declared their intention of becoming citizens.
(4) Whatever the form of the law that no words be used intended to draw a distinction between those eligible to citizenship and those ineligible.
Such were the points of Bryan's message to the California State Legislature. The series of executive conferences developed nothing that had not been known before. The feature of the conferences came toward the close of the last of the series of the first day's meetings, when Governor Johnson stated California's position on the question at issue.
Senator Boynton had called Secretary Bryan's attention to the fact that the laws of the State of Washington provide that "an alien, except such as by the laws of the United States are incapable of becoming citizens of the United States, may acquire and hold land.” Boynton had also shown that only last year, in 1912, Arizona had enacted a law that "no person not eligible to become a citizen of the United States shall acquire title to any land or real property.”
Boynton had further called the Secretary's attention to the fact that these statements had been contained in
232 The Drew Alien-Land bill of the 1909 session, which at the time called forth such vigorous protest from Washington was based on the Illinois law. See “Story of the California Legislature of 1909," page 203.
Governor Johnson's announcement of California's position as telegraphed East the week before.
Bryan had stated that he remembered the statement, but that the reference to the Arizona and the Washington law had escaped his memory.
And then Governor Johnson made his statement. Those who listened to him recalled the ring and the thrill of the reply he had made in his inaugural address of two years before, to the contention of the Southern Pacific attorneys that no effective Railroad Regulation Law could be passed under the State Constitution.233
"The point of inquiry, it seems to me,” said the Governor, "should be—and I speak perhaps academically in this regard—not: Is Japan offended to-day? but is Japan justly offended today”.234
233 See “Story of the California Legislature of 1911,” page 143. 234 Governor Johnson's statement was in full as follows:
"Mr. Secretary, will you permit me just one word: the gist of the statement was intended to be that in enacting a law of the character that was designated in that statement the State of California would not be guilty of any discrimination whatsoever, and the point of inquiry, it seems to me, should be—and I speak perhaps academically in this regard-not:
Is Japan offended to-day? but is Japan justly offended today? Is there anything that is contemplated by the Legislature of the State of California that should give and would give necessarily to any nation, logically looking at the problem, just offense? If there be justly offense given, none of us desires that that shall be so; but if it be a fact that offense is taken where justly it ought not to be taken, then we are justified in proceeding with our legislation in the State of California. And the position that I maintain is, that by the use of the words “ineligible to citizenship" we give no just cause of offense to Japan or to any other Nation on the face of the earth that the United States has heretofore excluded from citizenship in the United States. That, I think, is after all, in its last analysis, the problem for you to solve, the query being not whether some Nation be offended, but have you given just cause for that offense? and if we have, of course, like men, we should recede. If we have not and we are within our rights, the fact that it may take offense should not in any respect influence us in any degree whatsoever. And that we are right in our suggestion that no discrimination is made and no offense can reasonably be taken is evidenced, first, by the naturalization law of the United States that declares Japanese-not in set terms but by interpretation of the Circuit Courts of the United States—to be
And the position which he maintained was that by the use of the words “ineligible to citizenship,” California gives no just cause of offense to Japan or to any other nation that the United States has heretofore excluded from citizenship.235
The conferences ended without any plan of procedure having been agreed upon. But before Bryan left Sacramento an open meeting was held in the Assembly Chamber at which Bryan delivered a farewell address, in which he recalled the President's preferences.
"The responsibility rests upon you,” said Bryan, “to do what you deem necessary, recognizing, as you doubtless do, that you act not only as the representatives of the State dealing with lands lying within the State, but as the representatives of a State occupying a position among her sister States and sharing with
ineligible to citizenship; that is the ruling to-day of every State in the Union where application has been made for citizenship by Japanese. It is evidenced as well that there can be no discrimination, by the Constitution of the State of California adopted in 1879, where our organic law declared that the presence of those ineligible to citizenship among us is a menace to our State. It is evidenced again that there is no discrimination to-day in the use of those terms by the fact that in our marriage laws we will not permit Japanese and our people to intermarry. It is evidenced again to-day by the enactment of Washington and the enactments of the State of Arizona, and from all of these I insist, and I insist only as I say by way of argument-or academically if you choose to put it so, -I insist that we are within our rights in enacting a statute of the character that is contemplated; that it is not discriminatory against Japan and that, in enacting that statute, there can be no just cause for offense on the part of Japan or any other nation that is excluded from citizenship by the laws of the United States."
235 Governor Johnson was supported throughout by the Progressive leaders of California. Congressman Kent, for example, under date of April 26, telegraphed Governor Johnson from Washington his support as follows:
"Accept my thanks and congratulations for your brave stand. Opinion universally with you here. Any demand by foreign Nations that we should regulate our international affairs to suit them is hostile impudence. Treaty making power not supreme in such question as ours.
them an interest in and responsibility for international relations.” 236
Senator Lee C. Gates of Los Angeles, on behalf of the Legislature, spoke in farewell of the Secretary. Gates expressed profound appreciation and gratitude for the interest the Federal Government had taken in the problem, and assured him and the President "that though we may differ in the phraseology and terms which we may feel necessary to employ in legislation of the kind which is the subject of the visit of the Secretary of State, that we do it with the profoundest respect for the opinions of the Secretary of State and of the President which has animated this visit, and if we feel impelled to depart in the slightest degree from the advice of the President in this particular, we must still do it with the highest respect for the wishes of the Chief Executive of the Nation.” 237
And Bryan left Sacramento.
The California Legislature, even before the Secretary's departure, had proceeded to enact a measure which affected Asiatics alone, but with the words "ineligible to citizenship" ingeniously avoided.
236 Bryan's farewell speech will be found in full in the appendix.
237 Senator Gates' reply to Bryan's farewell speech will be found in the appendix.
HENEY-WEBB BILL PASSED.
Even before Bryan had left Washington, considerable progress had been made in framing a measure which would bar Asiatics from land ownership and at the same time give the Japanese no just grounds for complaint. One of the principal objections raised to such legislation had always been that the treaty rights of the peoples affected must be preserved. Franc J. Heney conceived the idea of a measure which should give to the Japanese all the rights of land ownership guaranteed them by treaty, and no more. This idea was made the basis of the measure finally enacted.
238 The clause in the treaty between Japan and this country which touches upon land ownership reads:
“The citizens or subjects of each of the High Contracting Parties shall have liberty to enter, travel and reside in the territories of the other to carry on trade, wholesale and retail, to own or lease and occupy houses, manufactories, warehouses and shops, to employ agents of their choice, to lease land for residential and commercial purposes, and generally to do anything incident to or necessary for trade upon the same terms as native citizens or subjects, submitting themselves to the laws and regulations there established.”
The treaty further provides that “the dwellings, warehouses, manufactories and shops of the citizens or subjects of each of the High Contracting Parties in the territories of the other, and all premises appertaining thereto used for purposes of residence or commerce shall be respected."
Up to this point in the treaty there is:
(1). Nothing that obligates the United States to permit Japanese in this country to acquire and hold title in land for any purpose.
(2) Nothing that obligates the United States to permit the Japanese to lease land for agricultural purposes, although provision is made for permitting them to lease land for residential and commercial purposes.
But the treaty further provides, that unless expressly set forth to the contrary, concessions granted by the United States to citizens of other countries shall be granted to citizens of Japan.
Members of the Legislature differed in their opinion of the effect of this "most favored nation" clause upon the right of the State to enact laws that would exclude Japanese from the soil.