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ASIAN PACIFIC AMERICAN
HISTORICAL TIMELINE DETAILS (1920 to 1929)

Our victories, obstacles and leaders


Discover additional specific info on the many links (outlined in "red" or "blue") listed below


1920
LARGEST CHINESE AMERICAN BUSINESS

The largest Chinese American business is
Joe Soong's National Dollar Stores, a dry goods chain reaching its height after 1945 and operating more than 50 stores in the western states.

1920 
ASIAN PLANTATION WORKERS GO ON STRIKE

10,000 Japanese and
Filipino plantation workers go on strike.

1920 
ASIAN INDIEANS OWN 123,000 ACRES!

By 1920,
Asian Indians owned about 123,000 acres in California's Imperial and Sacramento Valleys.

1920
LAW STOPS "PICTURE BRIDE" IMMIGRATION

Japan stops issuing passports to picture brides due to anti-Japanese sentiments.

 
 
Racist 1920 Post Card
1920  
CALIFORNIA STRENGTHENS ALIEN LAND LAW

Initiative in California ballot plugs up loopholes in the 1913 alien land law.

1920
KWOCK JAN FAT VS. WHITE

Kwock Jan Fat v White Supreme Court rules that aliens who wish to immigrate have a right to a fair hearing.

1920 
GEORGE SHIMA - THE "POTATO KING"

After reclaiming 29,000 acres of uncultivated land, George Shima, the Japanese "potato king," controls 80% of California's potato market.

1921 
STATES PASS "ALIEN LAND LAWS"

Washington and Louisiana pass alien land laws. Japanese farm workers driven out of Turlock, California. Filipinos establish a branch of the Caballeros Dimas Alang in San Francisco and a branch of the Legionarios del Trabajo in Honolulu. Japanese laborers are loaded into trucks by gunpoint and driven out of Turlock.

1922 
MARRY AN "ALIEN" - LOSE YOUR CITIZENSHIP

Takao Ozawa v. U.S. declares Japanese not eligible for naturalized citizenship. New Mexico passes an alien land law. Cable Act declares that any American female citizen who marries "an alien ineligible to citizenship" would lose her citizenship.

1922 
HO VS. WHITE

Sup. Ct. rules that Congress has the right to deport "dangerous" aliens, and that the alien must prove citizenship to remain in the US and can be held for trial.
 
 
 
Racist 1920 "Japo" Cleaner

1922
JAPANESE CANNOT BE NAURALIZED!

United States Supreme Court ruled in the Ozawa Case that Japanese could not be naturalized.

1923 
EXCLUSION BASED ON "UNDERSTANDING OF THE COMMON MAN" / BHAGAT SINGH THIND

In Bhagat Singh Thind v. US, the Supreme Court rules that racial exclusion is based on the "understanding of the common man."

Bhagat Singh Thind, a native of Punjab, immigrated to America in 1913. Working in an Oregon lumber mill he paid his way through University of California, Berkeley and enlisted in the United States Army in 1917, when the United States entered World War I. He was honorably discharged in 1918. In 1920 he applied for citizenship and was approved by the U.S. District Court. The Bureau of Naturalization appealed the case, which made its way to the Supreme Court. Thind's attorneys expected a favorable decision since the year before in the Ozawa ruling the same Court had declared Caucasians eligible for citizenship and Thind, as most North Indians, was clearly Caucasian.

Now the Supreme Court found it necessary to qualify "Caucasian" as being synonymous with "white," according to the understanding of the common man of the time. Justice Sutherland expressed their unanimous decision, denying Thind citizenship:

    "It is a matter of familiar observation and knowledge that the physical group characteristics of the Hindus render them readily distinguishable from the various groups of persons in this country commonly recognized as white. The children of English, French, German, Italian, Scandinavian, and other European parentage, quickly merge into the mass of our population and lose the distinctive hallmarks of their European origin.

    On the other hand, it cannot be doubted that the children born in this country of Hindu parents would retain indefinitely the clear evidence of their ancestry. It is very far from our thought to suggest the slightest question of racial superiority or inferiority. What we suggest is merely racial difference, and it is of such character and extent that the great body of our people instinctively recognize it and reject the thought of assimilation."

Because of the Thind decision, many Indian who were already naturalized had their citizenship rescinded.

The Thind decision also meant that the Alien Land Law applied to the many Indian immigrants who had already purchased or leased land.

After this ruling some landowners lost their property, but many continued to hold property they had previously acquired and to buy or lease new property in the names of American lawyers, bankers, or farmers whom they trusted.

A few were able to hold land in the names of their American-born children, though this strategy did not become widespread till after a 1933 court case challenging the practice of "Hindu" farmers holding land through American front men.

    You must never be limited by external authority, whether it be vested in a church, man, or book. It is your right to question, challenge, and investigate. -- Bhagat Singh Thind

OTHER FACTS ON BHAGAT SINGH THIND: He remained in the U.S., completed his Ph.D., and delivered lectures in metaphysics all across the nation. Basing his lessons on Sikh philosophy, he enriched his teaching with references to the scriptures of several religions and the work of Emerson, Whitman, and Thoreau. He campaigned actively for the independence of India from the British Empire, and helped Indian students in any way he could. In 1931, he married Vivian Davies and they had a son, David, to whom several of his 15 books are dedicated.

"You must never be limited by external authority, whether it be vested in a church, man, or book. It is your right to question, challenge, and investigate."

Ironically, Dr. Thind applied for and received U.S. citizenship through the state of New York within a few years of being turned down by the U.S. Supreme Court.


1923 
Y.C. HONG - 1ST CHINESE AMERICAN TO PRACTICE LAW IN CALIFORNIA

You Chung Hong (1898-1977) was the first Chinese student to graduate from the USC Law School, was a model of education success, professional accomplishment, civic engagement and philanthropic largess. The son of poor Chinese immigrants, Hong was the first person in his family to enter college and the first to study law; his achievements as a Los Angeles attorney earned him financial reward and civic regard in ways that were unimaginable to his parents.

Like many 19th century Chinese, You Chung Hong's father arrived in California to work as a laborer on railroad construction and in the state's borax mine. Death came in 1903 to the senior Hong, leaving his son Y.C. and a sister in the care of their mother who, having never learned English, eked out a living in San Francisco as a cigar roller and seamstress. Following his high school graduation in 1915, Y. C. Hong founded an English language school for Chinese immigrants while working as a bookkeeper in several Chinese restaurants. Moving to Los Angeles around 1918, he began translating for the United States Immigration Service. There, a Japanese interpreter who was attending the USC Law School extolled the benefits of studying law, especially with an eye toward practicing immigration law.

In 1920, Hong enrolled in USC's four-year night program, held in the Tajo Building at First and Broadway. The sole support of his family, Hong was so poor he could not afford to purchase textbooks; he depended upon the kindness of classmates willing to loan their books, as well as his ability to recall, sentence-by-sentence, law school lectures. He passed the Bar in 1923, becoming the first Chinese-American to practice law in California. Law School Dean Frank M. Porter nonetheless persuaded Hong to finish not one but two degrees in law at USC; and after completing an LL.B. in 1924 and a LL.M. in 1925, Hong established a practice in Chinatown.

Both immigration law and his tireless work on behalf of Chinese-American civil rights were central to Y.C. Hong's practice and life. For 50 years, Chinese-Americans regarded him as the country's foremost Chinese attorney, a reputation based on his relentless work to repeal the infamous Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. He testified before the U.S. Senate Hearing Committee in immigration laws before he was 30 years old and, at the age of 28, he was elected president of the Los Angeles chapter of the Chinese-American Citizens Alliance (C.A.C.A.), which was founded in 1895 to quicken the spirit of American patriotism, to insure the legal rights of its members and to secure equal economical and political opportunities for its members. The Chinese Times, the journal of C.A.C.A., was the popular medium through which Hong advanced his views on Chinese community affairs.

Hong was keenly involved in the construction of New Chinatown in 1938, providing legal advice and personal investments. Moving his practice to 445 Ginling Way represented the confluence of law, community and wealth. Here he gave flight to his philanthropic side, especially but not exclusively for the Chinese community. The Law School, for example, continues to benefit from his happy association with USC. Presently two scholarship funds, one managed by the Southern California Chinese Lawyers' Association, provide assistance for law students in Y.C. Hong's honor; and the education of several USC law students was financed by Y. C. Hong awards, a testament to the school which so shaped his life in law and community. Two sons attended USC; Nowland, a 1959 graduate of the Law School, and Roger, who earned degrees in architecture (1965) and urban and regional planning (1968). He died of a heart attack in 1977.

1923 
MORE STATES PASS "ALIEN LAND LAW" CONSTITUTIONALITY

U.S. v. Bhagat Singh Thind declares Asian Indians not eligible for naturalized citizenship. Idaho, Montana, and Oregon pass alien land laws. Terrace v. Thompson upholds constitutionality of Washington's alien land law. Porterfield v. Webb upholds constitutionality of California's alien land law. Webb v. O'Brien rules that sharecropping is illegal because it is a ruse that allows Japanese to possess and use land. Frick v. Webb forbids aliens "ineligible to citizenship" from owning stocks in corporations formed for farming.

1923 
ASIAN AMERICAN WORLD FLYWEIGHT CHAMPION

Filipino boxer Francisco Guilledo becomes the World Flyweight Champion

1923 
ASIAN INDIANS WERE "ALIENS INELIGIBLE TO CITIZENSHIP!

Justice Sutherland, speaking for the Supreme Court in 1923, said that
Bhagat Singh Thind and other Asian Indians were aliens ineligible to citizenship because, while designated as Caucasian, they were not white. Only whites and blacks, in fact, could become citizens -- even though Asian Indians were first recorded in American records in 1790. By 1900, 2,050 people of East Indian descent were reported to be living in the United States.

1924 
IMMIGRATION DENIED TO ALL ASIANS

National Origins Act excludes immigration of all Asian laborers. Filipinos, considered colonial subjects of the US, were exempted. The " Immigration Act" denies entry to virtually all Asians. No Chinese women were allowed to enter the United States for permanent residence. Prior to this act, wives of Chinese merchants and wives of American-born Chinese were allowed to enter. The Supreme Court in 1925 ruled that merchants' wives were admissible. Five years later an amendment to the Cable Act permitted the other women to enter.

No Chinese women were allowed to enter the United States for permanent residence. Prior to this act, wives of Chinese merchants and wives of American-born Chinese were allowed to enter. This act stopped all Chinese women who were not the wives of merchants, teachers, students, and tourists from entering the United States. The Supreme Count in 1925 ruled that merchants' wives were admissible. Five years later an amendment to the Cable Act permitted other women to enter.

The immigration law of 1924 was the final, most effective act against Chinese immigration. The law was challenged in the Supreme Court in the case of Chang Chan Angle, but the court ruled that Chinese wives of U.S. citizens were not entitled to residence. As a result, the Chinese population continued to have disproportionate number of men to women until early 1960s.

1924
FILIPINO AMERICAN HARDSHIPS

Feudal oppression and colonial brutality drove rural Filipinos from their homes while the lure of adventure and easy wealth blurred the hardships formerly endured by Mexican farmhands now restricted by the Immigration Act of 1924. 1600 Filipino plantation workers strike for eight months in Hawaii.

1924 
MASSACRE IN HAWAII

Hanapepe Massacre. Police attack union headquarters in Hanapepe, HI. 16 sugar plantation workers and 4 policemen are killed.

1924 
WHITES ONLY IN MISSISSIPPI IS LEGAL

Chinese grocer named
Gong Lum filed the lawsuit after his daughter was barred from the whites-only public school in the western Delta town of Rosedale. The case ultimately went to the United States Supreme Court, which upheld Mississippi's longstanding policy "to preserve the white schools for members of the Caucasian race alone."

1925 
GIN CHOW PREDICTED 1925 EARTHQUAKE

Gin Chow was a strawberry farmer and "weather prophet" whose reputed prediction of the 1925 Santa Barbara earthquake went unheeded. But everything he said thereafter was recorded by the scribes of the period, who considered him a kind of seismic Nostradamus.

But stories about Chow's predictions caught the attention of the press, which helped make a California legend of the man who once sold strawberries and casaba melons on the streets of Santa Barbara.

All the accounts came after the fact, but the gist of them is this: Two days before Christmas in 1920 or 1923, depending on the source, Chow supposedly posted a notice in the Santa Barbara post office stating that the city would be flattened by an earthquake on June 29, 1925.

Sure enough, the biggest and deadliest temblor since the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire struck at 6:44 a.m. that day. The ground shuddered for 19 seconds, about the time it takes to draw three or four slow, deep breaths.

1925
CHINESE GANGS CALL A TRUCE

Warring tongs in North America's Chinatowns declare truce. Hilario Moncado founds Filipino Federation of America.

1925
FILIPINO FEDERATION OF AMERICA

Filipino Federation of America organizes for purpose of obtaining US citizenship for its members.

1925
WORLD CHAMPION FILIPINO BOXER DIES

World Boxing Champion, Pancho Villa died in 1925 at age of 24 years old from blood poisoning after winning 103 victories out of 108 fights. (Courtesy of the book written and edited by Fred and Dorothy Cordova, assisted by a dedicated project staff - "Filipinos: Forgotten Asian Americans"

1925 
A JAPANESE PERSON CAN'T BE NATURALIZED

Sup. Ct. (
Hidemitsu Toyota vs. United States) rules that to maintain distinctions of race and color in naturalization laws, a Japanese person cannot be naturalized.

The substance of prior legislation (see above) is expressed in section 2169, Revised Statutes (Comp. St. 4358), which is: 'The provisions of this title [Naturalization] shall apply to aliens being free white persons, and to aliens of African nativity and to persons of African descent.' A person of the Japenese race, born in Japan, is not eligible under that section. Ozawa v. United States, supra, 198 (43 S. Ct.65).

1926 
INTERRACIAL MARRIAGE BETWEEN JAPANESE MALE AND A WHITE FEMALE

In July 1926, Banning went to Ota's Los Angeles hotel room. "She took my shirts, ties, everything out of the closet and dresser, put them in a suitcase, closed it, and said: 'We go now,' " Ota would later say in an interview. A year later, Banning, 51, and Ota, 31, drove to Seattle to be married; interracial marriage violated California law. Both were ostracized by their friends. This marriage, too, was short-lived, but not because another love intervened. During an extended European honeymoon, Banning caught a cold that turned into fatal pneumonia. She died on Feb. 20, 1929, shortly after her 53rd birthday.

1927 
SEPARATE FACILITIES FOR "MONGOLIAN" CHILDREN

Gong Lum v Rice - Supreme Court of Mississippi rules for separate but equal facilities for Mongolian children.

1927 
RESTRICTIONS OF JAPANESE SCHOOLS RULED UNCONSTITUTIONAL!

The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the laws passed by the Hawaii Legislature to control the Japanese Language Schools--Act 152 (Apr. 1925), Act 171 (Apr. 27, 1923), and Act 30 (Nov. 24, 1920)--were all
unconstitutional. In addition to removing the laws from the books, the Territorial government had to refund $20,000 in fees collected from the schools. Japanese school enrollment and popularity reached new highs in the early 1930s.

1928 
HERSEE MOODY CARSON's PARTIES FOR ORPHANED/DISADVANTAGED CHINESE CHILDREN

In 1928, Hersee Moody Carson (eccentric philanthropist) had the first of her Christmas parties for hundreds of orphaned and disadvantaged children, mostly of Chinese descent at her house/storybook fortress on a forested hilltop above Sunset Boulevard that become known as the "Fairy Lady's Castle" in the 1930s. "I have always been interested in foreign children, especially the Chinese," she said in the 1933 interview. Her Chinese cook donned a Santa Claus suit and handed out presents.

In 1915, Hersee Moody Moore - only child of a wealthy Mississippi family - came to West Hollywood.

In September 1924, she married wealthy Beverly Hills businessman Peter Gross, who had 11 children by two previous wives. Shortly after the honeymoon, Gross' former housekeeper-lover sued him for breach of promise, demanding $150,000. Unable to face his new wife and his jilted lover, Gross shot himself in the head on the living room couch. After battling his children, she became a very wealthy woman.

In 1927, Hersee married George Campbell Carson - who made front-page news for winning $20 million in a 19 year court fight - in San Francisco. This 55 years old bachelor with a second grade education who had spent 30 years mining and wandering around the country got rich after he sued several copper companies for infringing on the patent of his smelting furnace.

In 1932, in the midst of the Great Depression, she hired 100 workers to build her three-story castle. It would have 16 rooms, nine bathrooms, 125 stained and leaded glass windows and a chimney but no fireplace. She supervised daily construction for more than a year.

The castle cost $500,000, about $7.1 million in today's dollars. It included hand-painted wallpaper with pastel-colored birds, an underground conveyor belt from the street to the kitchen for deliveries, and a conservatory ceiling painted the way the sky looked the day Hersee Carson was born in 1878.

1928 
FARM WORKERS DRIVEN OUT

Filipino farm workers are driven out of Yakima Valley, Washington. Filipinos in Los Angeles form Filipino American Christian Fellowship.

1928 
CHI ALPHA DELTA

Chi Alpha Delta, the sorority started in 1928 by 14 Japanese American UCLA students who were barred from Greek Sororities is now a Pan-Asian organization. Their survival of nearly eight decades is remarkable, because the sorority has gone through so many difficult historical periods and demographic transformations.

No other Japanese American or Asian American student group has had such longevity.

The sorority has rejected offers by other Asian American Greek groups to join them, choosing to remain an independent sorority identified solely with UCLA.

1929 
UNEMPLOYMENT DURING THE DEPRESSION

Unemployment rates in Chinatown rose to 50% during the Depression.

1929 
JACL IS FORMED

Japanese American Citizens League
(JACL) was founded in 1929 to fight discrimination against people of Japanese ancestry. It is the largest and one of the oldest Asian American organizations in the United States.

1929 
FILIPINOS DRIVEN OUT

A gun-carrying mob led by the Exeter police chief drive Filipino field workers out of Exeter.

The five days of the Watsonville riots, throwing two counties into turmoil and spreading fear and hatred throughout the state, had a profound impact on California's attitude toward imported Asian labor. As a result, Filipino immigration plummeted, and while they remained a significant part of the labor in the fields, they began to be replaced by Mexicans.

1929 
FAZAL MUHAMMAD KHAN CHANGES THE RICE INDUSTRY

Fazal Muhammad Khan, a rice farmer in Butte County, contributes to the growth and development of the rice industry. California subsequently becomes one of the rice farming centers in the country.

1929 
BLACK TUESDAY

"Black Tuesday," Oct. 29, 1929, wiped 10% off the value of U.S. common stocks and seared a place in America's financial psyche.

Even today, the popular image of "the panic" is of bankrupted fat- cat investors throwing themselves to their deaths from windows high
above Wall Street. It was not the first great crash in Wall Street history. Far from it. Major sellers' panics had swept the Street in 1837, 1857, 1873, 1893 and 1907, all except the last marking the start of a severe depression. Nor was it the greatest one-day decline in the market's history.

Regardless, the stock market crash of 1929 has entered into the folk memory of the American people. Like 1492 and 1776, it is one of those dates that every schoolchild knows. Like the Alamo, the sinking of the Titanic and Custer's last stand, it has served as the
historical backdrop of innumerable novels, plays, movies and songs.

The 1920s were a period of immense prosperity for this country. The gross national product rose by 59%, and average personal income by 38%. The engine of the new prosperity was the automobile, which by then had become the largest industry in the country, led by General Motors (nyse: GM - news - people ) and Ford Motor. In that decade, cars tripled in number, and their manufacture was consuming 20% of the steel, 80% of the rubber and 75% of the plate glass.

Wall Street could be detached from economic reality for only so long, however. On the day after Labor Day, Sept. 3, 1929, the Dow reached a high of 381.17, a figure it would not see again for a quarter-century. On Sept. 5, a market analyst of no great note, Roger Babson, a perennial bear, addressed an audience in Wellesley, Mass.: "I repeat what I said at this time last year and the year before, that sooner or later a crash is coming."

No one had paid any attention before, but now, when his innocuous remark crossed the broad tape, the market reacted volcanically. In the last hour of trading, volume was a fantastic 2 million shares, and major issues declined by ten points and more.

For the next few weeks, the market trended downward as bear raids and margin calls increased. By late October, it was down over 20%. On Thursday, Oct. 24, panic swept the Street until a syndicate of bankers raised a pool of $20 million and managed to steady the market with large purchases made by the New York Stock Exchange's acting president.

But on Monday, Oct. 28, selling resumed--and on Tuesday, forever Black Tuesday, there was no stopping it. The volume of 16 million shares traded that day would be a record for nearly 40 years. The tickers did not spew out the last of the trades until five hours
after trading ended. The selling continued for another two weeks until it finally ran out of steam on Nov. 13, with the gains of the
previous two and half years wiped out.

By then, however, a greatly overbought market had become an oversold one. Buyers began to move in, and the market began to rise. In January 1930, The New York Times thought that the biggest news story of the previous year had been not the crash but Admiral Byrd's flight over the South Pole. By May, the market had recovered about half its losses of the fall. When a group of clergy visited President Hoover and asked for increased public works, he told them, "You have come 60 days too late, the depression is over."

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