Washington, D.C. July 12, 1921
Dear Sir and Brother:
A critical legislative situation exists in Congress. The sugar planters of the Hawaiian Islands are making a desperate effort to have Congress pass a resolution permitting fifty thousand Chinese coolies to be contracted for and imported into Hawaii. A resolution was introduced in the House of Representatives permitting the immigration of Chinese Coolies to Hawaii but was defeated on Thursday.1 Immediately thereafter another resolution of a similar character was introduced in the House, referred to the Committee on Immigration, and on Friday morning without hearing this resolution was reported favorably to the House.2 If such a joint resolution was adopted by Congress it would be a forerunner not only of admission of innumerable Chinese Coolies to Hawaii but opening up the way to the admission of Chinese Coolies to the main land of the United States, thus showing how desperate and despicable are the methods employed to break down the Chinese Exclusion Law and the protection it affords to our civilization. Unless intelligent and prompt action is taken not only by labor but by all who are interested in maintaining the civilization and standards of the people of the United States and its possessions, the first inroads will be made in permitting at least fifty thousand Chinese Coolies to go to Hawaii.
Enclosed you will find a list of the members of the Immigration Committee of the House of Representatives3 and it is urged that you communicate promptly with your union located in the districts which the members of the Committee represent in the House of Representatives. Also that you, in the name of your international organization, protest to Chairman Johnson4 and the members of the Committee on Immigration against the passage of the joint Resolution 171. It is further suggested that you prevail upon officers and members of organized labor or sympathizers with the cause of labor and justice that they too may enter their protest by mail or telegraph. A pull altogether upon this matter will have a most salutary effect.5
With best wishes for the success of our efforts and for our great movement, I am
Fraternally yours, Saml Gompers
President American Federation of Labor.
TLpS, reel 267, vol. 280, pp. 154-55, SG Letterbooks, DLC. Typed notation: "This letter sent to the Presidents of the National and International Unions."
1. H.J. Res. 158 (67th Cong., 1st sess.), introduced June 20, 1921, by Republican delegate Jonah Kalanianaole of Hawaii, would have allowed importation of Chinese contract workers into Hawaii to do agricultural work. It died in committee.
2. H.J. Res. 171 (67th Cong., 1st sess.), introduced by Kalanianaole on July 7, 1921, also allowed the importation of Chinese contract laborers into Hawaii. Whereas H.J. Res. 158 specified agricultural work, H.J. Res. 171 would have allowed the contract workers to engage in any occupation. It also failed to pass.
3. Reel 267, vol. 280, p. 156, SG Letterbooks, DLC.
4. Albert Johnson (1869-1957) served as a Republican congressman from Washington from 1913 to 1933.
5. SG met with President Warren Harding on July 18, 1921, to discuss the importation of Chinese contract labor into Hawaii. In addition, he sent letters and telegrams to labor leaders in western states and in states represented by congressmen on the House Committee on Immigration, which was considering H.J. Res. 171, asking them to send protests to Johnson and other members of the committee (reel 267, vol. 280, pp. 137, 142-46, SG Letterbooks, DLC).