Date of Degree
Hans L. Trefousse
This study identifies the missionary-related leadership of the Federal Council of Churches, and its lay pacifist and internationalist supporters, as the most significant opposition to the anti-Japanese immigration movement in the period from the Gentlemen's Agreement of 1907 to the exclusion legislation of 1924. Sidney L. Gulick (1860-1945), as a missionary on furlough and executive secretary of the F.C.C.'s Commission on International Justice and Goodwill, provided cohesion to this effort through his proposal for comprehensive immigration and naturalization reform. His program of reform centered on removal of racial barriers to naturalization and the universal application of immigration restrictions based on the percentage of each nationality who became naturalized, as a way to put the Japanese and other Asian immigrants on an equal footing with the Europeans.
The chief flaw in Gulick's campaign, and in this it was representive of anti-exclusion spokesmen, was that he subordinated concern for the Japanese community in the U.S. for the sake of American-Japanese relations, and thus gave credence to charges that they served a foreign cause. Thus, Gulick and his followers had little ties to the Japanese community, which treated the immigration question as secondary to civil rights. That another approach was possible is exemplified in John Powell Irish's leadership of opposition to the 1920 alien land law referendum in California.
Finally, in 1924 congressional opponents of European restriction in the East and Midwest deferred to their Pacific Coast colleagues on exclusion legislation, and treated it as a matter of regional preference or as a diversion from their own concerns. The anti-exclusion movement, whose spokesmen like Gulick were aware of social injustice in American society, did not align itself with critics of discrimination of racial or ethnic minorities. In the end, the 1924 anti-Japanese exclusion legislation not only damaged American-Japanese diplomatic relations, but along with the definitive Supreme Court decisions in the 1920's confirmed the subordinate status of the Japanese community.
Abrams, Bruce A., "A Muted Cry: White Opposition to the Japanese Exclusion Movement, 1911–1924" (1987). CUNY Academic Works.