History of California

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1913 Jan 1

California Alien Land Law of 1913

California, USA

The California Alien Land Law of 1913 (also known as the Webb–Haney Act) prohibited "aliens ineligible for citizenship" from owning agricultural land or possessing long-term leases over it, but permitted leases lasting up to three years. It affected the Chinese, Indian, Japanese, and Korean immigrant farmers in California. Implicitly, the law was primarily directed at the Japanese. It passed 35–2 in the State Senate and 72–3 in the State Assembly and was co-written by attorney Francis J. Heney and California state attorney general Ulysses S. Webb at the behest of Governor Hiram Johnson. Japan's Consul General Kametaro Iijima and lawyer Juichi Soyeda lobbied against the law. In a letter to the United States Secretary of State, the Japanese government via the Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs called the law "essentially unfair and inconsistent... with the sentiments of amity and good neighborhood which have presided over the relations between the two countries," and noted that Japan felt it was "in disregard of the spirit of the existing treaty between Japan and the United States." The law was meant to discourage immigration from Asia, and to create an inhospitable climate for immigrants already living in California. The law was overturned by the California Supreme Court as unconstitutional in 1952.


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