Nationalism, Internationalism, and Japanese Exclusion, 1919–1924
This chapter addresses the social forces in the U.S. that came together after World War I to pave the way for Japanese exclusion in 1924. Congress held hearings across the West Coast about Japanese immigration in 1920, which revealed the intensity of the issue as hundreds of persons testified. Many favored Japanese exclusion, but a surprising number opposed it. As it had done earlier with both the Chinese and the Japanese, California lead the way towards exclusion, in this case through approving a ballot measure the strengthened the state’s alien land law. Votes in this measure revealed splits about Japanese exclusion within the state and within various neighborhoods within Los Angeles, the state’s largest city. A cadre of political leaders and private citizens in California, including V.S. McClatchy, James D. Phelan, and Senator Hiram Johnson, led the anti-Japanese campaign. In the end, the federal government’s approval of Japanese exclusion was not a sure thing, and throughout the process its backers were never certain of their success.
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