« AnteriorContinuar »
the measure adopted by California. True, the treaty contains a "most favoured nation" clause, but that clause, too, is not couched in general sweeping terms, but confines its application to navigation and trade. Section 4 of the land law which prohibits the inheritance of farm lands now owned by Japanese by their heirs may be interpreted as an infringement upon clause 3, Article 1, of the treaty with Japan, and also a violation of an article in the United States Constitution which provides that “no State shall deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." But the question of inheritance is not the fundamental one. The fundamental question is the question of ownership of farm lands, and as far as that is concerned, Japan must find it difficult to argue her side of the case, if the question is approached from the legal point of view. That the land law is opposed to the spirit of the treaty seems to us obvious, but in international dealings what is not expressly conceded in the treaty is never secure, unless, forsooth, such concessions are upheld by the sword and cannon. It, therefore, bespeaks Japan's good sense that her so-called "protest" was in reality little more than a friendly request for the assistance of the Wilson Cabinet in her efforts to solve the question in an amicable manner.
The question, we believe, should be considered not from the legal point of view, but in the light of broad statesmanship with due regard for justice and humanity. In the first place, we must consider whether such a law would not conflict with the fundamental spirit and principle upon which this great Republic stands. In the second place, we must consider whether there exist conditions which call for such a law. In the third place, we must consider whether such a law has the endorsement
of an intelligent, fair-minded class of people. Finally, we must consider whether the adoption of such a law would not be prejudicial to the national foreign policy of this country.
The first point has been repeatedly discussed in the preceding chapters. Here I need only assert that the law is decidedly un-American. It is enacted merely to throttle the legitimate aspirations of the Japanese, to keep the Japanese farmers in a state of serfdom, to fan the prejudice which is being constantly exploited by the jealous and ignorant. Senator Boynton, one of the staunchest champions of the land law, exclaimed on the floor of the California Senate: “I don't want to see a Japanese own a single foot of land of California. If they are willing to perform menial labour on farms under the direction of citizen owners, that is all right." Are these words which could be put into the mouth of the descendant of the sire who only a hundred years ago addressed this note to his oppressor:
“To your justice we appeal. You have been told that we are impatient of government and desirous of independence. These are calumnies. Permit us to be as free as yourselves, and we shall ever esteem a union with you to be our greatest glory and our greatest happiness. But if you are determined that your ministers shall wantonly sport with the rights of mankind: if neither the voice of justice, the dictates of law, the principles of the constitution, or the suggestions of humanity, can restrain your hands from shedding human blood in such an impious cause, we must then tell that we will never submit to be hewers of wood and drawers of water for any ministry or nation in the world."
It is to "your justice” that the Japanese appeal. We have consecrated our country to the cause of justice and liberty, and in order to uphold it we did not hesitate to make enormous sacrifice. What heresy, what perfidy to attempt to trample upon the sacred legacy of our revered sires and to destroy the foundation upon which the great democracy stands! The land question should not be confounded with the immigration question. We have imposed upon Japan the “gentlemen's agreement,” as the result of which Japanese immigration has been effectively checked. Those who are already within our borders it is our duty to protect and uplift. That duty we are in honour bound to assume not because of any treaty we have concluded but in deference to the principle which made this nation morally great and which we have with pardonable pride proclaimed to the whole world. To deprive the Japanese wilfully and viciously of rights which they have long been permitted to enjoy, is not "exclusion" but "extermination" and "
” persecution.” But we must come to the second point.
The second point has already been dealt with in the chapter entitled “They Are Taking Our Farms,” but there are some essential facts which I must present here.
According to the report of the Bureau of Labour Statistics of California agricultural lands owned by Japanese aggregrated only 12,726 acres, cut up into 331 farms assessed at $478,990. Compare this with the total agricultural lands in the State, estimated at 27,931,444 acres, and we can see what an insignificant part the Japanese land-holdings constitute. Again the number of farm operators in the State is 88,197, of whom 66,632 are owners. It therefore appears that there is only one Japanese landowner to every 201 Caucasian owners. During the past decade or so California's agriculture has
been declining. A study of the census reveals interesting facts in this connection. In ten years intervening 1900 and 1910 there was a decrease in the amount of land in farms of 897,597 acres, and in the amount of improved land in farms of 568,943 acres. This unhappy condition was no doubt partly due to the movement of the population from the country to the city. In the face of such facts I fail to see how a body of wise legislators could afford to enact a law which is calculated to drive out thrifty industrial farmers.
There is another consideration. Those sections of California in which Japanese have been chiefly active in agriculture are in the Sacramento and the San Joaquin Valley. The northern part of the San Joaquin Valley, unlike the coast district of California, is noted for its rigorous winters and scorching summers. Because of this climate the development of the country was long delayed. Certain sections of the Sacramento Valley consist mostly of lowlands, always damp and often inundated. This section, therefore, was long regarded as unhealthy, and was shunned by most immigrants. It was the Japanese who opened these countries. He braved the heat and cold of the northern San Joaquin Valley, and has converted it into a thriving fruit country, famous for its raisins and wines. He worked upon the unsanitary farms on the lower reaches of the Sacramento and the San Joaquin River, and has made the country rich with onions, potatoes, beans, and fruits. Yet for this great contribution what has the Japanese received as reward? Only 10,000 acres of land-6,000 acres in the Northern San Joaquin Valley, and 4,000 acres in the Sacramento Valley. The valleys are in themselves an empire containing some 37,456 square miles of arable lands. In such a vast territory 10,000
acres owned by Japanese are nothing but a negligible quantity. And mind, every inch of the 10,000 acres was purchased with hard-earned money. To disinherit this land would be an act unthinkable in this great country of liberty and enlightenment.
The third point has been to some extent dealt with in Miss Brown's letter to the Nation, already quoted. To drive it further home to the reader I quote the following passage from her pamphlet entitled “Education not Legislation":
Under our system of lawmaking any irresponsible person can have
bill introduced and so bills have been brought forth with the cry that the farmers demand such laws. As a matter of fact, the three so-called 'farmers' who were permitted to go before the Judiciary Committee, did not represent the vast intelligent farming class at all. The real farmers were there, but they opposed the measures, so were denied a hearing. Such petitions as have been gotten up represent an unthinking, prejudiced, jealous class of people, largely non-propertyowners. The better elements were never approached or, if they were, refused to have anything to do with it. In this community it was carried around by a social pariah, a man who owns not a foot of soil.
“The constant prodding and slurring of the Japanese is a habit of the ignorant of California. Their ugly words pass unchallenged and hence breed more. The forces of evil and ignorance are always rampant; the forces of good-will and stay-at-home industry are
So while prejudice and un-Americanism claim to be the voice of the people, our real citizenship depreciates the attacks, deplores such bitterness, but finds all avenues for voicing objections closed. In local communities those who come out for justice and right are