George Woodward Wickersham to Jane Addams, February 5, 1924



February 5, 1924

Dear Sir:

Following the instruction of the Executive Committee I have the honor to enclose a copy of the resolution passed at its recent meeting, February 2, 1924.

Permit me to express the hope that the members of the Senate and the House of Representatives will take this request into serious consideration.

Were there no other possible way of dealing with the situation the case would be different. The proper way by which to change a treaty or an international agreement, it would seem to me, is by treaty or agreement negotiated through the Department of State. If Congress deems such change advisable, a request made to the Executive will without doubt bring such action.

Responsible Japanese have repeatedly declared that, if the "Gentlemen's Agreement" is not satisfactory, the Japanese Government will gladly reconsider the whole matter and make some new arrangement.

In the face of such assurances from Japan of desire to maintain neighborly relations with us, and in view of their earnest desire that the United States should not pass discriminatory and inevitably humiliating legislation aimed at Japan, the passage of the proposed act by Congress would certainly be resented by Japan as a gratuitous act of unfriendly character.

The need for the proposed measure is far from obvious when we consider the facts in the case. The statistics of admittances and departures of alien Japanese, published by the Commissioner General of Immigration, show that since the "Gentleman's Agreement" went into effect (1909-1923) 22,737 more males left the United States (including Hawaii) than entered; and that the net increase by immigration of Japanese in the continental United States during these fifteen years has been 8,681, consisting of women and children. [page 2]

It is evident that the Japanese Government has been administering the "Gentlemen's Agreement" with careful fidelity. Naturally the proposed measure would convey an implication to the contrary which a proud and sensitive nation would resent.

The statement that the proposed measure (H.R. 6540-b) is not particularly aimed at the Japanese, for it concerns all peoples "ineligible for citizenship," is too specious to need extended reply. It is enough to point out that practically all such peoples are now excluded by existing laws, the Chinese, by name, and the Hindus, [Tibetans], Dravidians, and many other peoples of Asia and Polynesia by definitions of latitude and longitude. The real purpose of the proposed measure is the abrogation of the "Gentlemen's Agreement" with Japan.

If there is any sound reason for such Congressional action I have not seen it stated publicly.

Earnestly hoping that the proposed section of the immigration bill is duly deleted before the bill is passed, I am

Respectfully yours,

Geo. W. Wickersham [signed]