The Politicization of Japanese Immigration Exclusion in Early- Twentieth Century Oregon

Student Author(s)

Alexandra Piper

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Jeanne Petit

Document Type


Event Date



Anti-Japanese hysteria was growing in the early twentieth century America. This poster specifically examines how anti-Japanese sentiment grew in Oregon compared to other states, like California. The government and people of Oregon were originally more tolerant of Japanese immigration while California always had a stronger, wholly nativist response to the issue. As time progressed, Oregon as a whole became nativist. I examine this progression using a variety of sources including a government commissioned report of the Japanese situation in the state, and speeches from two governors who served from 1919 to 1927. The report and the speeches of the first governor, Ben Olcott, show how Oregon attempted to remain neutral on the issue. When Walter Pierce challenged Olcott for re-election in 1922, he made the restriction of Japanese immigration a central issue in his campaign. As governor, Pierce encouraged anti-Japanese immigration restriction, and his term produced considerable legislature against the Japanese. The shift from a neutral governor to a nativist governor shows how the hysteria grew in states, eventually reaching its height with the Johnson-Reid Act. This act singled out Asian immigrants and banned the entry of aliens.

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