Cripple Creek miners' strike of 1894
The Cripple Creek miners' strike of 1894 was a five-month strike by the Western Federation of Miners in Cripple Creek, Colorado, USA. It was followed in 1903 by the Colorado Labor Wars, it is notable for being the only time in United States history when a state militia was called out in support of striking workers. The strike was characterized by firefights and use of dynamite, ended after a standoff between the Colorado state militia and a private force working for owners of the mines. In the years after the strike, the WFM's popularity and power increased through the region. At the end of the 19th century, Cripple Creek was the largest town in the gold-mining district that included the towns of Altman, Arequa, Elkton and Victor, about 20 miles from Colorado Springs on the southwest side of Pikes Peak. Surface gold was discovered in the area in 1891, within three years more than 150 mines were operating there; the Panic of 1893 caused the price of silver to crash. The influx of silver miners into the gold mines caused a lowering of wages.
Mine owners demanded longer hours for less pay. In January 1894, Cripple Creek mine owners J. J. Hagerman, David Moffat and Eben Smith, who together employed one-third of the area's miners, announced a lengthening of the work-day to ten hours, with no change to the daily wage of $3.00 per day. When workers protested, the owners agreed to employ the miners for eight hours a day – but at a wage of only $2.50. Not long before this dispute, miners at Cripple Creek had formed the Free Coinage Union. Once the new changes went into effect, they affiliated with the Western Federation of Miners, became Local 19; the union was based in Altman, had chapters in Anaconda, Cripple Creek and Victor. On February 1, 1894, the mine owners began implementing the 10-hour day. Union president John Calderwood issued a notice a week demanding that the mine owners reinstate the eight-hour day at the $3.00 wage. When the owners did not respond, the nascent union struck on February 7. Portland, Pikes Peak, Gold Dollar and a few smaller mines agreed to the eight-hour day and remained open, but larger mines held out.
The strike had an immediate effect. By the end of February, every smelter in Colorado was either closed or running part-time. At the beginning of March, the Gold King and Granite mines resumed the eight-hour day. Mine owners still holding out for the 10-hour day soon attempted to re-open their mines. On March 14, they obtained a court injunction ordering the miners not to interfere with the operation of their mines, hired strikebreakers; the WFM attempted to persuade these men to join the union and strike, but when they were unsuccessful, the union resorted to threats and violence. These tactics succeeded in driving non-union miners out of the district. On March 16, an armed group of miners ambushed and captured six sheriff's deputies en route to the Victor mine. A fight broke out, in which one deputy was shot and another hit by a club. An Altman judge, a member of the WFM, charged the deputies with carrying concealed weapons and disturbing the peace released them. After the assault on his deputies, El Paso County Sheriff M.
F. Bowers requested the intervention of the state militia. Governor Davis H. Waite, a 67-year-old Populist, dispatched 300 troops to the area on March 18 under the command of Adjutant General T. J. Tarsney. Tarsney found the area quiet. Union president Calderwood assured him that union members would cooperate with his operations surrendering for arrest if requested. Convinced that Bowers had exaggerated the extent of the chaos in the region, Tarsney recommended the withdrawal of troops; the state militia left Cripple Creek on March 20. In response to the recall of the state militia, the mine owners closed the mines. Bowers arrested Calderwood, 18 other miners, the mayor and town marshal of Altman, they were taken to Colorado Springs and tried on several different charges, but found not guilty. Meanwhile, outbursts of violence, such as stone-throwing and fights between union miners and scabs, increased in frequency. Stores and warehouses were broken into, guns and ammunition stolen. In early May, the mine owners met with representatives of the WFM in Colorado Springs in an attempt to end the strike.
The owners offered to return to the eight-hour day, but at a daily wage of only $2.75. The union rejected talks broke down. Shortly after negotiations with the union ended, the mine owners met secretly with Sheriff Bowers in Colorado Springs, they told Bowers they intended to bring in hundreds of nonunion workers, asked if he could protect such a large force of men. Bowers said he could not, for the county lacked the financial resources to pay and arm more than a few deputies; the mine owners offered to subsidize an initial force of a hundred or so men. Bowers agreed, began recruiting ex-police and ex-firefighters from Denver. News of the mine owners' meeting with Bowers soon leaked out, the miners organized and armed themselves in response. Calderwood was leaving on a tour of the WFM locals in Colorado to raise funds for the Cripple Creek strike, so appointed Junius J. Johnson, a former U. S. Army officer. Johnson established a camp atop Bull Hill, which overlooked the town of Altman, he ordered that fortifications be built, a commissary stocked and the miners be drilled in maneuvers.
On May 24, the strikers seized the Strong mine on Battle Mountain, which over
Leadville miners' strike
The Leadville miners' strike was a labor action by the Cloud City Miners' Union, the Leadville, Colorado local of the Western Federation of Miners, against those silver mines paying less than $3.00 per day. The strike lasted from 19 June 1896 to 9 March 1897, resulted in a major defeat for the union due to the unified opposition of the mine owners; the failure of the strike caused the WFM to leave the American Federation of Labor, is regarded as a cause for the WFM turn toward revolutionary socialism. Silver was discovered in Colorado in the 1870s, initiating the Colorado Silver Boom; the Leadville miners' strike in 1896-97 occurred during rapid industrialization and consolidation of the mining industry. Mine owners had become more powerful, they resolved not only to defeat the strike, but to eliminate the union; the local union lost the strike and was nearly dissolved, marking a turning point for the local union's parent organization, the Western Federation of Miners. The defeat forced miners to their union philosophy.
Although the federation was birthed as the result of a violent struggle and had engaged in a militant action in the Cripple Creek District in which miners used gunfire and dynamite, the organization's disposition and its Preamble envisioned a future of arbitration and conciliation with employers. After the Leadville strike, WFM leaders and their followers adopted radical politics and were open to more militant policies, breaking with the conservative, craft union based American Federation of Labor in the East; the union local in the Leadville mining district was the Cloud City Miners' Union, Local 33 of the Western Federation of Miners. The Leadville strike was the first real test for the Western Federation of Miners, the first strike into which the WFM poured significant resources. Coming just two years after the Federation's victory at Cripple Creek, the Leadville strike represented a significant hope that the mineworkers could solidify their power and continue their dramatic growth. Miners working in the industrial enterprise of underground metal mining came from non-industrial backgrounds.
Placer mining was replaced by lode mining from 1860 to 1910, forcing miners to go deeper underground and resulting in an increasing level of industrialization. Tensions resulted from changing demands for work discipline. By 1900, there were more than 4,000 miners in Leadville. Colorado's annual mining industry death rate in the 1890s was six deaths per thousand workers; as a death rate quoted for miners, the statistics were believed understated because they included surface workers as well as underground workers. Before the 1890s, many hard rock mines were owned by the miners. Owners, miners were more sympathetic to the concerns of miners, but the higher cost of industrialization changed that. The typical mine owners of the 1890s started out as bankers and businessmen who had never entered a mine, whose primary concern was profitability. Lode mining took capital, investors from the east and west coasts, from Europe, were courted; when the Colorado Legislature passed a law in 1887 prohibiting foreign ownership of real estate in Colorado, mine ownership was excepted.
Miners had long believed. For example, in 1894 a Leadville mine owner instructed the superintendent of the mine to delay a payday for the miners so that a dividend could be paid to stockholders; the WFM had advocated the eight-hour day since its founding convention in 1893. Some miners had the shorter hours, public employees and building trades workers in Denver had won the eight-hour day as early as 1890, yet in 1896, hoisting engineers in Leadville were required to work twelve-hour shifts. Mines were more dangerous. In 1889 two Leadville workmen were sent to Denver to testify in favor of a mine inspection bill. Although it passed, it made no difference that year. During the financial crisis of 1893, the price of silver slumped, to offset the lower silver price, mine owners cut wages for Leadville miners from $3 per day, down to $2.50 per day. By 1896, mine owners had raised the daily wage of most miners back to $3, but about a third of the workers were still receiving $2.50. In May 1896, representatives of the CCMU asked the mine owners for a wage increase to bring all mine workers back up to the old wage of $3 per day.
The union felt justified, for fifty cents a day had been cut from the miners' wages during the depression of 1893. Some believed it was a bad time to demand a wage hike, because the economy hadn't yet recovered from the downturn. One mine owner claimed "we have not made a dollar in two years." But others observed that by 1895, Leadville mines posted their largest combined output since 1889, that Leadville was Colorado's most productive mine camp, producing 9.5 million ounces of silver. The mine owners "were doing a lot better than they wanted anyone to know." Mine owners Eben Smith and John F. Campion were writing letters discussing mine expansions and upgrading operations, such that "both men seemed, in their writing at least, to remain remarkably unconcerned about their overall financial prospects." Campion was attempting to purchase Italian marble, other luxuries for his home during the strike. On 26 May 1886, a union committee went to several mine managers to propose that the $3 daily wage be restored to the lower-paid workers, but all the mine managers they spoke to refused.
From the start, mine managers and owners took the position that t
Battle of Evarts
The Battle of Evarts occurred in Harlan, Kentucky during the Harlan County Wars and lasted only one day. The miners wanted improved working conditions, better wages, more housing options for their families; these reasons along with other factors caused the miners to go on strike. This strike resulted in a dispute that ended when the Kentucky National Guard was called in to break up the strike. Shots were fired and at the end of the short battle, four people were dead; this battle lasted 15 minutes. There were numerous factors at play during the Battle of Evarts; some opposing forces included armed police with orders to shut the strike down while other associations refused or denied help to the striking miners. The United Mine Workers of America, or UMWA tried to help and aid the miners, but once the union realized the amount of resources it was going to take the UMWA decided it wasn't able to offer their support; the red cross was unable offer support by citing the strike as an "Industrial dispute" and staying clear of the movement.
The Black Mountain Coal company was the main opposing force which sent in the armed police to break up the strike, leading to the four deaths that occurred. The'Battle of Evarts' occurred on a May 1931, in the morning. A motorcade was on its way to Harlan to deliver goods to the'Scab", or a non-union miner, hired to replace someone; the motorcade was three cars long with a deputy in each car. The deputies were armed and ready to fight because they thought they were going to have issues with the union miners; the union miners were waiting for the motorcade near the Evarts railroad. When the train approached, a single shot rang out, which prompted both sides to believe that the other one had shot first; the cars came to a miner guard Jim Daniels came out and went to hide behind a rock. Daniels was one of the most hated anti-union officers in Harlan County, he got ready to shoot at the miners, but as soon as stuck his head over the rock he was hiding behind he was shot in the head and killed. The battle lasted fifteen minutes with 1,000 shots fired.
In the end three deputies and one miner had been killed. Since this Battle happened during the Harlan County Wars, other Battles led up to the Battle of Evarts because of months of turmoil; some of the factors that led to the Battle of Evarts included mine conditions and independence from the coal company as well as hunger and intrigue. Miners were being laid off for attending United Mine Workers meetings; the Black Mountain Coal Company created a grocery store where the miners would be able to spend the money that they earned there. Miners didn't like this because they were not allowed to spend their money elsewhere and If the miners were caught spending their money at somewhere else they would be fired and kicked out of town; the final straw though was when Harlan County Coal Operators Association cut wages mines' by 10%. After this, the first strike occurred. Out of all these battles, the Battle of Evarts was one of the most violent, it had to have the Kentucky National Guard called in for protection.
After months of rallies, on June 17, all mine workers reported back to their jobs. The aftermath of this battle led to wider strikes in the Harlan County area. Coal companies refused to back down while the Red Cross refused to give aid due to a policy of staying neutral during disputes. After about a month and a half of strikes, workers reported back on June 17 because of unresponsive negotiation-partners and starvation due to having no money to spend on food. Eight miners ended up receiving life in jail for conspiracy to murder for the actions that took place on May 5; the Battle of Evarts may have only been 15 minutes long with only four deaths, but it is a huge piece of history when it comes to the Coal Wars
The Coal Wars were a series of armed labor conflicts in the United States between 1890 and 1930. Although they occurred in the East in Appalachia, there was a significant amount of violence in Colorado after the turn of the century; the Coal Wars were the result of economic exploitation of workers during a period of social transformation in the coalfields. Beginning in 1870–1880, coal operators had established the company town system. Coal operators paid private detectives as well as public law enforcement agents to ensure that union organizers were kept out of the region. In order to accomplish this objective, agents of the coal operators used intimidation, harassment and murder. Throughout the early 20th century, coal miners attempted to overthrow this system and engaged in a series of strikes, including the Paint Creek-Cabin Creek strike of 1912, The Battle of Evarts, which coal operators attempted to stop through violent means. Mining families lived under the terror of Baldwin-Felts detective agents who were professional strikebreakers under the hire of coal operators.
During that dispute, agents drove a armored train through a tent colony at night, opening fire on women and children with a machine gun. They would repeat this type of tactic during the Ludlow Massacre in Colorado the next year, with more disastrous results. By 1920, the United Mine Workers of America organized most of West Colorado; the southern West Virginia coalfields, remained non-unionized bastions of coal operator power. In early 1920, UMW president John L. Lewis targeted Mingo County for organizing. Certain aspects of Mingo made it more attractive to union leaders than neighboring Logan County, under the control of the vehemently anti-union Sheriff Don Chafin and his deputized army. Mingo's political structure was more independent, some politicians were pro-union. Cabell Testerman, the mayor of the independent town of Matewan was one supporter of the union cause, he appointed 27-year-old Sid Hatfield as town police chief. As a teenager, Hatfield had worked in the coalmines and he was sympathetic to the miners' condition.
He was a member of the famous Hatfield family of the Hatfield and McCoy feud. These men provided union organizers an opportunity to gain a foothold, unionizing accelerated in the county. In response to the organizing efforts, coal operators used every means to block the union. One of their primary tactics of combating the union was firing union sympathizers, blacklisting them, evicting them from their homes, their legal argument for evictions is best stated by S. B. Avis, a coal company lawyer. If the servant leaves your employment, if you discharge him, you ask him to get out of the servants' quarters, it is a question of master and servant." The UMW set up tent colonies for the homeless miner families, soon a mass of idle and angry miners was concentrated in a small area along the Tug Fork River. With the coal operators' suppression, by early May 3,000 out of 4,000 Mingo miners had joined the union. At the Stone Mountain Coal Company mine near Matewan, every single worker unionized, was subsequently fired and evicted.
The coal wars of the late nineteenth to early twentieth century were a important part of West Virginia's State History. The Paint Creek-Cabin Creek strike of 1912 involved numerous labor leaders, including Mary Harris Jones known as "Mother" Jones; the next major event of the mine wars in West Virginia was the Matewan Massacre on May 19, 1920. The massacre only exacerbated tensions between miners, their allies, coal operators. In West Virginia, the mine wars would come to a head at the Battle of Blair Mountain in 1921; this armed conflict pitched organized miners against detectives and the United States Army. The result of the battle was a loss for the West Virginia miners, the crushing of organized labor aspirations in the state. Miners would not be allowed to organize again until the 1930s. Murder of workers in labor disputes in the United States Battle of Blair Mountain Sheep Wars Railroad Wars Illinois coal wars Colorado Labor Wars Harlan County War Mining in the United States Copper Country strike of 1913–1914 Cripple Creek miners' strike of 1894 Molly Maguires Coal strike of 1902 Bailey, Rebecca.
MATEWAN BEFORE THE MASSACRE: POLITICS, COAL, AND THE ROOTS OF CONFLICT IN A WEST VIRGINIA MINING COMMUNITY. Morgantown: West Virginia University Press. Corbin, David. Gun Thugs and Radicals: A Documentary History of the West Virginia Mine Wars. Oakland: PM Press. Corbin, David, ed.. The West Virginia Mine Wars: An Anthology. Martinsburg, WV: Appalachian Editions. ISBN 978-0-9627486-0-8. Savage, Lon. Thunder in the Mountains: The West Virginia Mine War, 1920–21. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press. ISBN 978-0-8229-3634-3. Shogan, Robert; the Battle of Blair Mountain: The Story of America's Largest Union Uprising. Boulder, CO: Westview Press. ISBN 978-0-8133-4096-8
Carbon County Strike
The Carbon County Strikes took place in Carbon County, Utah from 1903–1904. The strikes consisted of Slavic and Italian immigrant mine workers who partnered with the United Mine Workers of America strikes in Colorado to protest the dangerous working conditions of the Utah coal mines; the Carbon County strikes were considered the most important labor confrontation in the United States at the time. The Utah Fuel Company opposed initiatives to unionize coal workers in Utah and were the primary opposition to the UMWA at the time; the Carbon County Strikes would fail in its attempt to unionize the coal workers of Utah because it "did not have enough support, either internally or externally, to win against a powerful and influential company that played on radical, anti-foreign sentiments in defending its position" but it demonstrated a significant nationwide effort in strengthening unionization in the west. The labor movement in the United States experienced some of its greatest gains in the early years of the twentieth century.
Union membership was not only increasing in established unions but newer unions began to form and expand under a wave of new immigrants from southern and eastern Europe. Nationwide union membership was 870,000 in 1900 and in 4 years it had more than doubled to 2,072,700 members; the United Mine Workers Association was the collective voice of mine workers during the labor movement but their influence was limited to only eastern coal regions of Pennsylvania, Ohio and Illinois. The coal industry had been hit hard by the Panic of 1893 and as a result the average wages of coal miners had diminished by 10 to 30 percent. UMWA leadership struggled to consolidate support among miners in the eastern regions and the bleak economic outlook only stirred more frustration with miners in the coal industry; the UMWA responded to the economic depression with the Coal Miners' Strike of 1897 and the Coal Strike of 1902. The strikes offered a collective voice for miners to speak out against the deplorable conditions of mining camps and proved to be popular movement among miners in eastern mining regions.
Western mining regions would not join or participate in the early Coal Miners' Strikes but the success of the UMWA in increasing wages for their workers inspired support among immigrant miners of the west. The coal miners of Carbon County consisted of immigrant workers and had little association with the UMWA. Up until the twentieth century the UMWA focused its attention to eastern coal regions causing Utah miners to fail numerous times in their effort to unionize but the success of out of state unions had produced hope for members of labor movement in Utah; the UMWA had conducted campaign operations to unionize workers in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Illinois but looked to expand their control over western coal regions in Colorado and Utah. The success of the Coal Miners' Strike the 1902 Anthracite Strike in Pennsylvania had confirmed the influence the UMWA held over the coal industry and mine workers of Utah sought to capture the momentum of the recent union victories; the Carbon County Strike developed in September 1903 from a coal miner strike that began in Colorado.
The Utah strikes coordinated in partnership with the strikes in Colorado to help with efforts in Carbon County and sustain funding, provided by the UMWA. The UMWA leadership organized recruitment campaigns in Utah and gained a majority of coal miners support in the strike efforts. UMWA organizers toured back and forth between Utah and Colorado, establishing a solid base organization within two coordinating strikes; the large population of Italian immigrants who worked in the Utah coal mines had established connections with other Italian miners in Colorado, making the organization efforts easier for the UMWA to consolidate and grow their base of support. The coal miners of Utah favored the message the UWMA promoted and backed their initiatives for greater representation in the coal industry; as union membership continued to surge throughout the United States, Utah miners saw an opportunistic chance to improve working conditions and gain the right to collectively bargain. The UMWA message of a united coal workers front proved to be an effective strategy in harnessing support.
The tragedy of the Scofield Mine disaster brought awareness for the much needed improvement of safety precautions in the mines and motivated Utah mine workers to continue striking. Horrid work conditions of the mines and continued mining incidents fueled Utah strike efforts but public perception of Utah coal miners began to turn negative because of their association with the violent Colorado coal strikes; the partnership of the Carbon County strike and Colorado strikes would prove to be the downfall of the labor movement in Utah. The Colorado strike began to develop into a civil war and the citizens of Utah feared that the Carbon County Strike would soon follow the same course of action; the UMWA vowed to fund the Utah strikers until they had unionized but the financial burden to fight an uphill battle would bleed the union dry. Utah coal strikers resented the abandonment of the UMWA and it took over 10 years before another effort to unionize would take place. Most of the Utah coal strikers in support of the labor movement were left with no compensation or job to financially support themselves once the UMWA withdrew from Utah in 1904.
Opposition to the Carbon County Strike was funded by the Utah Fuel Company and backed by government officials who used the violence exhibited in the Colorado strikes to undermine the growing labor movement in Utah. The Utah Fuel Company created a narrative that Utah miners had no real issue against the working conditions of the
The Cananea strike known as the Cananea riot, or the Cananea massacre, took place in the Mexican mining town of Cananea, Sonora, in June 1906. Although the workers were forced to return to their positions with no demand being met, the action was a key event in the general unrest that emerged during the final years of the regime of President Porfirio Díaz and that prefigured the Mexican Revolution of 1910. In the incident twenty-three people died, on both sides, twenty-two were injured, more than fifty were arrested. In 1906 Cananea was a company town with a population totaling 23,000. Of these 21,000 were Mexican and the remainder American. Order was kept by a private police force maintained by the Cananea Consolidated Copper Company; the only source of foodstuffs and other commodities was a company store, which sold its goods at high prices. By 1906, the Nogales-based Cananea Consolidated Copper Company had some 5,360 Mexican workers employed at its Cananea copper mines, earning three and a half pesos per day while the 2,200 American workers there were earning five pesos for the same job.
Conditions in which the Mexican employees worked were deplorable. During the celebrations of Cinco de Mayo, the Mexican employees made public their complaints while the local authority applied martial law to avoid further conflicts. On June 1, most of the Mexican miners went on strike. Led by Juan José Ríos, Manuel Macario Diéguez and Esteban Baca Calderón, their demands were the removal of one foreman named Luis, the pay of five pesos for eight hours' work, the employment quotas ensuring seventy-five percent of the jobs for Mexicans and twenty-five percent for foreigners, the deployment of responsible and respectful men to operate the cages and that all Mexican workers to be entitled to promotions, in accordance with their skills; the company executives rejected all of the petitions and the workers decided to march and gather people from other towns in the municipality. The population supported the crowd numbered more than 3,000 people. While they were marching in front of the wood shop of the company, the American employees in charge of that department, the Metcalf brothers, threw water at them and fired shots, killing three people.
The angry mob lynched them by setting them on fire. When they approached the government building of the municipal president they were received by a 275-man American posse led by Arizona Rangers. Other workers were killed. Contemporary news reports in The New York Times on June 3, 1906 reported that on June 1, strikers destroyed a lumber mill and killed two brothers who were defending the mine. Eleven casualties were reported among the Mexican "rioters". About half of the company police avoided involvement in the disturbance. Responding to a telegraphed plea from Colonel William Cornell Greene of the Greene Consolidated Copper Company, a posse of 275 volunteers from Bisbee and Naco, commanded by Captain Thomas H. Rynning of the Arizona Rangers, entered Mexico against the orders of Joseph Henry Kibbey, Governor of Arizona Territory. At the order of Rafael Izabal Governor of Sonora, forty Rurales were despatched from Hermosillo to reinforce a detachment under Colonel Emilio Kosterlitsky present.
Mexican Federal troops were sent to Cananea. Four troops of the 5th Cavalry en route from Fort Huachuca were held at Naco, Arizona, on the border on the orders of President William Howard Taft. A tense confrontation between striking miners and 200 Americans ensued. Many participants were armed and shots were exchanged. At Colonel Kosterlitsky's orders the American interventionists left the town by rail, to return across the border. Mexican Rurales and Federal soldiers disarmed the strikers and made arrests. According to Colonel Green the "trouble was incited by a Socialistic organization, formed by malcontents opposed to the Díaz government." Shortly before the strike, a political party called the Partido Liberal Mexicano had been established with wide support. The PLM became involved in aggressively pressing for industrial and rural reform. At both the French-controlled Rio Blanco textile factory and the American-owned Cananea Copper Company mine, PLM literature was subsequently to be found distributed through the workers' settlements.
Although the government forces present had behaved with relative restraint, the entry of armed foreigners into national territory caused Mexican outrage against the Diaz administration. Diaz had sent orders to Governor Izabal not to accept any American involvement in restoring order in Cananea but the telegram had arrived after the trainload of Arizona Rangers and civilian supporters had crossed the border; the incident became linked with the Río Blanco strike of January 1907 as two symbols of the Porfirio Díaz administration's corruption, subservience to foreign interests and civil repression. They became "household words for hundreds of thousands of Mexicans". A corrido titled; the Cananea municipal jail, built in 1903 and located in downtown Cananea, is a museum Workers' Struggle Museum and houses exhibitions of photographs and instruments used in mining. The mine in Cananea continues to be worked for copper. After the original 1906 strike the Cananea mine has remained the scene of frequent labor disputes, with the most recent incident being a miners strike of 2007-2008
Japanese Americans are Americans who are or of Japanese descent those who identify with that ancestry, along with their cultural characteristics. Japanese Americans were among the three largest Asian American ethnic communities during the 20th century. According to the 2010 census, the largest Japanese American communities were found in California with 272,528, Hawaii with 185,502, New York with 37,780, Washington with 35,008, Illinois with 17,542, Ohio with 16,995. Southern California has the largest Japanese American population in North America and the city of Torrance holds the densest Japanese American population in the 48 contiguous states. People from Japan began migrating to the US in significant numbers following the political and social changes stemming from the Meiji Restoration in 1868. Large numbers went to Hawaii and the West Coast. In 1907, the "Gentlemen's Agreement" between the governments of Japan and the US ended immigration of Japanese unskilled workers, but permitted the immigration of businessmen and spouses of Japanese immigrants in the US.
The Immigration Act of 1924 banned the immigration of nearly all Japanese. The ban on immigration produced unusually well-defined generational groups within the Japanese American community. Original immigrants belonged to an immigrant generation, the Issei, their US-born children to the Nisei Japanese American generation; the Issei comprised those who had immigrated before 1924. Because no new immigrants were permitted, all Japanese Americans born after 1924 were—by definition—born in the US; this generation, the Nisei, became a distinct cohort from the Issei generation in terms of age and English-language ability, in addition to the usual generational differences. Institutional and interpersonal racism led many of the Nisei to marry other Nisei, resulting in a third distinct generation of Japanese Americans, the Sansei. Significant Japanese immigration did not occur again until the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 ended 40 years of bans against immigration from Japan and other countries.
The Naturalization Act of 1790 restricted naturalized United States citizenship to "free white persons", which excluded the Issei from citizenship. As a result, the Issei were unable to vote and faced additional restrictions such as the inability to own land under many state laws. Japanese Americans were parties in several important Supreme Court decisions, including Ozawa v. United States and Korematsu v. United States; the Korematsu case originated the "strict scrutiny" standard, applied, with great controversy, in government considerations of race since the 1989 Adarand Constructors v. Peña decision. In recent years, immigration from Japan has been more like that from Western Europe; the numbers involve on average 5 to 10 thousand per year, is similar to the amount of immigration to the US from Germany. This is in stark contrast to the rest of Asia, where family reunification is the primary impetus for immigration. During World War II, an estimated 120,000 Japanese Americans and Japanese nationals or citizens residing on the West Coast of the United States were forcibly interned in ten different camps across the western interior of the country.
The internments were based on the ancestry rather than activities of the interned. Families, including children, were interned together. Four decades the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 acknowledged the "fundamental violations of the basic civil liberties and constitutional rights" of the internment. Many Japanese-Americans consider the term internment camp a euphemism and prefer to refer to the forced relocation of Japanese-Americans as imprisonment in concentration camps. Webster's New World Fourth College Edition defines a concentration camp as, "A prison camp in which political dissidents, members of minority ethnic groups, etc. are confined." The nomenclature for each of their generations who are citizens or long-term residents of countries other than Japan, used by Japanese Americans and other nationals of Japanese descent are explained here. The Japanese American communities have themselves distinguished their members with terms like Issei and Sansei, which describe the first and third generations of immigrants.
The fourth generation is called Yonsei, the fifth is called Gosei. The term Nikkei encompasses Japanese immigrants of all generations; the kanreki, a pre-modern Japanese rite of passage to old age at 60, is now being celebrated by increasing numbers of Japanese American Nisei. Rituals are enactments of shared meanings and values. Issei and many nisei speak Japanese in addition to English as a second language. In general generations of Japanese Americans speak English as their first language, though some do learn Japanese as a second language. In Hawaii however, where Nikkei are about one-fifth of the whole population, Japanese is a major language and studied by many of the state's residents across ethnicities, it is taught in private Japanese language schools as early as the second grade. As a courtesy to the large number of Japanese tourists, Japanese characters are provided on place signs, public transportation, civic facilities; the Hawaii media market h