That Time An Indian Argued To The U.S. Supreme Court That He Is A "Free White Person" And Entitled To Citizenship

In United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind, 261 U.S. 204 (1923), the United States Supreme Court unanimously ruled that Bhagat Singh Thind, who identified himself as a "high caste Aryan, of full Indian blood," was racially ineligible for naturalized citizenship due to the Naturalization Act of 1906.

FMI has obtained and is now releasing the fascinating briefs submitted by lawyers for the United States and Mr. Thind almost a century ago.

The lawyer for the United States argued before citing Rudyad Kipling's "The White Man's Burden":

We think that only such members of the Caucasian race should be held eligible for naturalization as may be found to be representatives of a white civilization.  Viewed in this way the people of India, from whatever stock they may have sprung, cannot be included.  Though they may have kept their blood pure for centuries, nevertheless, the centuries have removed them far from political fellowship with the white men of the Western World.

* * *

This is the Western civilization, sometimes denominated the European civilization, which our fathers knew and from which they were willing to recruit the citizenship of the Republic; but the Far East, including India, was not regarded by them as a part of such civilization.  To them, naturalization of the Far East Asiatics was unthinkable, because immigration of the teeming millions of Asia into America was likewise unthinkable.

While the argument of the lawyer for the United States focused mostly on history, the argument of the lawyer for Mr. Thind focused mostly on the then-contemporary understanding of racial classifications in a brief which cites to significant scientific works--which makes said lawyer's brief interesting to read.

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