The 1907 Gentlemen's Agreement – promoted by President Theodore Roosevelt – was a US immigration policy that established restrictions on Japanese labour. The policy came at a time of growing tension over Asian immigration to the west coast of the USA as well as to Canada and Mexico. The Agreement is often interpreted as an act of racial discrimination and exclusion. Undoubtedly, racial discrimination played a role in stoking and instigating American opinions over immigration in the early twentieth century. However, this article seeks to explain how the Gentlemen's Agreement was not an act of exclusion from the perspective of Theodore Roosevelt. The article contends that Roosevelt's initiative in the immigration policy was, instead, to exclude the Japanese based on class. In fact, this analysis of the Gentlemen's Agreement contends that the 26th president was particularly mindful of Japanese rights and the effect immigration would have on international diplomacy.
- Theodore Roosevelt