Classic History Books


The Path of Empire. A Chronicle of the United States as a World Power
by Carl Russell Fish

with her actual strength. Secretary Hay's death in 1905 brought American leadership to an end, for,
though his policies continued to be avowed by all concerned, their application was thereafter restricted.

The integrity of Chinese territory was threatened, though not actually violated, by the action of Great

Britain in Tibet and of Japan in Manchuria. Japan, recognized as a major power since her war with

Russia, seemed in the opinion of many to leave but a crack of the door open in Manchuria, and her

relationship with the United States grew difficult as she resented more and more certain discriminations

against her citizens which she professed to find in the laws of some of the American States, particularly

in those of California.

In 1908 Elihu Root, who succeeded Hay as Secretary of State, effected an understanding with Japan.
Adopting a method which has become rather habitual in the relationship between the United States and

Japan, Root and the Japanese ambassador exchanged notes. In these they both pointed out that their

object was the peaceful development of their commerce in the Pacific; that "the policy of both

governments, uninfluenced by any aggressive tendencies, is directed to the maintenance of the existing

status quo in the region above mentioned, and to the defense of the principle of equal opportunity for

commerce and industry in China"; that they both stood for the independence and integrity of China; and

that, should any event threaten the stability of existing conditions, "it remained for the two governments

to communicate with each other in order to arrive at an understanding as to what measures they may

consider it useful to take."

The immigration problem between Japan and the United States was even more serious than that of the
open door and the integrity of China. The teeming population of Japan was swarming beyond her island

empire, and Korea and Manchuria did not seem to offer sufficient opportunity. The number of Japanese

immigrants to this country, which before the Spanish War had never reached 2000 in any one year, now

rose rapidly until in 1907 it reached 30,226. American sentiment, which had been favorable to Japan

during her war with Russia, began to change. The public and particularly the laboring classes in the

West, where most of the Japanese remained, objected to this increasing immigration, while a number of

leaders of American opinion devoted themselves to converting the public to a belief that the military

ambitions of Japan included the Philippines and possibly Hawaii, where the Japanese were a formidable

element in the population. As a consequence there arose a strong demand that the principles of the

Chinese Exclusion Act be applied to the Japanese. The situation was made more definite by the fact that

the board of education in San Francisco ruled in 1906 that orientals should receive instruction in special

schools. The Japanese promptly protested, and their demand for their rights under the treaty of 1894 was

supported by the Tokio Government. The international consequences of thus discriminating against the

natives of so rising and self-confident a country as Japan, and one conscious of its military strength, were

bound to be very different from the difficulties encountered in the case of China. The United States

confronted a serious situation, but fortunately did not confront it alone. Australia and British Columbia,

similarly threatened by Japanese immigration, were equally opposed to it.

Out of deference to Great Britain, with which she had been allied since 1902, Japan consented that her
immigrants should not force their way into unwilling communities. This position facilitated an

arrangement between the United States and Japan, and an informal agreement was made in 1907. The

schools of San Francisco were to be open to oriental children not over sixteen years of age, while Japan

was to withhold passports from laborers who planned to emigrate to the United States. This plan has

worked with reasonable success, but minor issues have kept alive in both countries the bad feeling on the

subject. Certain States, particularly California, have passed laws, especially with regard to the ownership

and leasing of farm lands, apparently intended to discriminate against Japanese who were already

 

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