Title: "Japanese Denied Citizenship," Seattle Times, 5/4/1909, (ddr-densho-56-150)
Densho ID: ddr-densho-56-150


Virginia Judge Bars Naval Steward, Holding No Alien Eligible Except of White or African Descent.

Right Claimed Under Act Enfranchising Foreigners Who Have Served Honorably in Navy or Marine Corps.

NORFOLK, Va., Tuesday, May 4. -- Federal Judge Edmond Waddill, Jr., of the United States court for the Eastern District of Virginia, in the application for naturalization of Namyo Bessho, a Japanese "chief steward" in the United States navy, denied the petition, holding that under the federal statute no Japanese or alien except of white blood or of African descent or nativity can become an American citizen, even though he has seen service in the United States navy or marine corps.

Bessho claimed the right of naturalization under the act of Congress of July 26, 1894, giving an alien of the age of 21 years and upward who has served honorably in the navy or marine corps the right of citizenship after proper court form.

District Attorney Robert H. Talley, appearing for the government, resisted this, holding that under Section 2169 of the federal statutes, as amended in 1875, only "free white persons" and "aliens of African descent" are entitled to naturalization. Judge Waddill, sustaining this, ruled that the act of 1894 could not repeal by implication the statute of 1875 and that there are no direct terms of repeal.

Bessho is preparing an appeal.