Boycott upon Japanese subjects in Butte, Mont

[Handed to the Secretary of State by the Japanese minister March 18, 1897.]

Japanese subjects residing and doing business at Butte, Mont., have presented a petition to the Japanese consul at New York, wherein they complain of interference with their business, in some cases amounting to actual violence, by members of a local labor organization. It appears that the Silver Bow Trades and Labor Assembly, Knights of Labor, have declared a general boycott in the following terms, as published in the Daily Inter-Mountain, Butte, Mont., on the 12th of January, 1897:


A general boycott has been declared upon all Chinese and Japanese restaurants, tailor shops, and wash houses by the Silver Bow Trades and Labor Assembly. All friends and sympathizers of organized labor will assist us in this fight against the lowering Asiatic standards of living and morals.

American vs. Asia, progress vs. retrogression, are the considerations now involved. American manhood and American womanhood must be protected from competition with these inferior races, and further invasions of industry and further reductions of the wages of native labor by the employment of these people must be strenuously resisted.

By order of the Silver Bow Trades and Labor Assembly:

P. H. Burns, President.

G. B. Walters, Secretary.

This boycott, it would seem, is not only directed against Japanese engaged in the occupations above enumerated, but against all Japanese however employed, and incidentally against all persons employing Japanese in any capacity who refuse to discharge them in compliance with the wishes of the labor assembly. As reported in the Butte Times of January 30 last, the boycott committee state it is their intention to boycott all such persons, to injure their business as much as possible, so that they may be forced to obey the committee’s commands. Their object, they say, is to force every Chinese and Japanese in Butte to leave the town. This object they appear to be vigorously pursuing, going, in some instances, as alleged in the petition from the Japanese residing in Butte, to the extent of willfully destroying the property and threatening the bodily safety of the persons against whom their hostility is directed.

So far as is known, neither the State nor the local authorities have taken any steps to prevent these violations of the rights of peaceful and unoffending Japanese within their jurisdiction.

The Japanese consul at Tacoma reports that the legislature of the State of Idaho has passed and the governor has signed an act which reads as follows:

AN ACT to discourage the future increase of alien population in this State.

  • Section 1. It shall be hereafter unlawful for any county government or municipal or private corporation organized under the laws of this State, or organized under [Page 368]the laws of another State or Territory, or in a foreign country, and doing business in this State, to give employment in any way to any alien who is ineligible under the laws of the United States to become a citizen thereof, or to give such employment to any alien who, being ineligible to become such citizen, has failed, neglected, or refused, prior to the time such employment is given, to become naturalized or to declare his intention to become a citizen of the United States.
  • Sec. 2. Whenever employment has been innocently given to any alien by any county government, municipal or private corporation mentioned in section I of the act, and complaint shall be made in writing by any person to the officers of the county government, or municipal corporation, or the general manager, superintendent, or foreman, or other agent, of the private corporation having charge or superintendency of the labor of such alien employed, that such employé is an alien, he shall forthwith discharge such employé from employment unless such employé shall produce his declaration to become a citizen, or his certificate of naturalization, or a duly certified copy thereof.
  • Sec. 3. Any public officer, or any county government or municipal corporation, or any general manager, superintendent, foreman, or other agent of any private corporation, or any contractor, or agent of any company engaged in public work, who shall violate any of the provisions mentioned in this act, or who shall knowingly give employment to any alien, or who, having innocently given such employment, shall, on complaint made to him by any person, fail or refuse to discharge such employé forthwith on the failure or refusal of such employé to produce for his inspection and the inspection of the complainant his declaration of intention to become a citizen or certificate of naturalization, as provided in section 2 of this act, shall he deemed guilty of a misdemeanor.
  • Sec. 4. Whereas an emergency exists, this act shall take effect and be in force from and after its passage.

No case, so far as has been reported, has been brought under this law, which went into effect on the 18th of February, 1897.

[360] Mr. Sherman to Mr. Hoshi.