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The first large groups of Asian immigrants reaching Hawaii — a U.S. territory — and the United States in the late 19th century faced racial prejudice. Restrictive laws in Hawaii and the U.S. specifically limited the rights of Asian immigrants to own property and to become citizens. Before 1907, most Japanese immigrants to the U.S. settled on the West Coast and excelled in the cultivation of marginal lands. As successful farmers, fruit growers, fishermen, and small businessmen, their ability to do well with little and to overcome great odds made them objects of envy by some members of the white community. Set apart by their physical appearance, they became further isolated from the white mainstream as envy fed racial hostility.

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Issei the first generation

Between 1861 and 1940, some 275,000 Japanese people moved to Hawaii and to the U.S. mainland... More

The Kingdom of Hawaii began efforts to bring Japanese laborers to work in the sugar cane fields in 1860... More
US Mainland

Most Japanese immigrants to the United States settled on the West Coast and worked in agriculture... More
Legalizing Racism

Japanese immigration to the continental United States was concentrated during the years 1900-1920... More

Smithsonian - National Museum of American History - Behring Center