Archive for the ‘Geography’ Category

Our Japanese Question

In 1921, a Harvard government professor warned that “There has never been a time of such uneasy and hostile feeling between the two nations” of the U.S. and Japan. 20 years later came Pearl Harbor.

Albert Bushnell Hart noted that the animosity was a relatively recent development:

Can two countries be found with a longer record of international friendship? For half a century Japan has welcomed Americans, while the United States has been a land of pilgrimage for Japanese. The two countries have also been bound together by eight successive commercial treaties, and the United States in 1804 was the first nation to accept Japan as a full member of the family of nations.

The tension in 1921 primarily related to certain U.S. states’ restrictions on Japanese immigrants’ rights:

California by statute, and also by a recent referendum, has prohibited aliens who are not capable of becoming citizens (that is, in effect, Chinese and Japanese) from holding land directly or through forms of trust. Whether a State may legally thus discriminate between aliens is not yet settled by the courts, though there are precedents.

Here then is the case in a nutshell. The National Government prohibits Chinese immigration but not Japanese. It restricts Japanese immigration by a roundabout and makeshift method which allows thousands to sift through. The Pacific States are powerless to shut these people out, but are alarmed at their acquirement of lands, as an evidence of intention to form a permanent settlement. The Japanese Government dislikes any restriction, and formally protests against treatment of Japanese which is not precisely the same as that of other immigrants.

The issue wouldn’t be resolved legally for 27 years, until 1948’s case Oyama v. California — and even then, it would only be partially resolved.

Kajiro Oyama, a Japanese citizen living in the U.S., became de facto owner of California land which had technically been purchased in the name of his six-year-old son Fred, a U.S. citizen through birthright citizenship. The California Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the state’s law, declaring Oyama’s purchase an illegal evasive maneuver intended to circumvent the state’s ban on Japanese immigrants owning land. The Harry Truman administration disagreed and appealed the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled 6-3 in Oyama’s favor, finding that California’s law indeed violated the 14th Amendment Equal Protection Clause rights of six-year-old Fred, an American citizen.

However, there was a catch. The Court’s stances on issues related to the Japanese back then was firmly rooted in an antagonist World War II-era sentiment. Four years earlier, in 1944, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Japanese internment in Korematsu v. U.S., which the Court didn’t formally overrule until 2018. So in a sly bit of legal maneuvering, while the Court ruled in Oyama’s favor for this specific case, they declined to actually invalidate or overturn California’s law outright. That wouldn’t occur until the California Supreme Court — which, keep in mind, had found against Oyama back in 1946 — reversed itself and declared the state law unconstitutional in a subsequent unrelated 1952 case. The California government itself formally repealed the law in 1956.

On a federal level, it wasn’t until Congress enacted 1952’s McCarran-Walter Act that Japanese immigrants were allowed to become U.S. citizens. The law also simultaneously upheld America’s quotas for immigration based on nation of origin, which weren’t discontinued until the Immigration Act of 1965.

To be fair, while all this did contribute to escalating tensions between the U.S. and Japan, none of this directly caused the Japanese to attack Pearl Harbor. Instead, the preemptive assault on a major U.S. naval base intended to hobble America’s potential deterrance capabilities in the Pacific, paving the way for Japan to carry out its planned aggressions against Pacific territories of the United Kingdom and Netherlands.

Still, these other tensions probably didn’t help matters. You don’t go to war against your friends.

 

Our Japanese Question (PDF)

Published: Sunday, January 16, 1921

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Written by Jesse

January 17th, 2021 at 11:06 am

Population Centre Moving East, Cities Lead

Several questions about U.S. population trends loomed over the 1920 Census. Here they were, along with their ultimate answers.

Are we entering on a new period in which our proportionate increase in population will be less than in the past?

Yes. The growth rate between 1910 and 1920 was +14.9%, the lowest on record up to that point.

The growth rate now is even lower than that. The population from 2000-10 grew at +9.7%, the second-lowest ever. Current projections for 2010-20 are for a growth rate of +7.7%, which would also be the second-lowest ever.

Is urban population for the first time in the history of the country to take lead over rural population?

Yes. According to the Census Bureau, “The 1920 census marked the first time in which over 50 percent of the U.S. population was defined as urban.”

By the 2010 Census, that number had jumped to 80.7%.

Has the great movement westward, which has been an outstanding feature in every census, slowed up, and, with the vast industrial growh in the East, is the centre of population to be stopped in its westward course and return a few points toward the East?

Yes. The median center of population had moved westward every decade between 1880 and 1910, but moved both slightly east and slightly north in 1920, from eastern Indiana to western Ohio.

It moved slightly east again in 1930, but has since moved both west and south every decade since. As of 2010, it’s located near Petersburg in southwestern Indiana.

 

 

Median Center of Population for the United States: 1880 to 2010

Population Centre Moving East, Cities Lead: Early Figures of New Census Seem to Promise This and Indicate Slowing Up of General Increase Rate to About Fifteen Per Cent. — Effect of Industrial Progress Speeded Up by War (PDF)

Published: Sunday, May 23, 1920

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Written by Jesse

May 19th, 2020 at 11:21 am