Here's Letter To The World From Suicide

Article titled "Here's Letter To The World From Suicide" from the March 17, 1928 edition of the San Francisco Examiner. The article reports on the suicide of Vaishno Das Bagai, and reprints the letter he left for newspapers. In the letter, Bagai explains that his reason for taking his life by suicide is a protest against the American naturalization laws that stripped him of American citizenship, which he was granted in 1921.

Early Immigration, Citizenship & Voting

Date: March 17, 1928
Subject(s): Vaishno Das Bagai
Type: Newspaper Clipping
Language: English
Source: San Francisco Examiner
Location: San Jose, CA

Here's Letter To The World From Suicide

Hindu Art Dealer, Dead by Gas, Writes 'Examiner' on 'Why' Before 'Destroying His Body'

SAN JOSE, March 16. -- There died here early today Vaishno Das Bagai, a Hindu art dealer of San Francisco, who committed suicide by gas as a protest against refusal of the United States government to recognize the American citizenship which he claimed. In a letter he left to the world at large through the San Francisco "Examiner," he voiced his protest in an arraignment of the American naturalization laws.

The letter he left follows:
To the world at large: Now there are quite a number of friends and acquaintances who will disagree with me, they will think and talk about this self sacrifice of mine, here are a few words to console them: Is this not my own life? Didn't I nourish it, clothe it and shelter it? It was I who took care of myself and no one else. Then why shouldn't I have the right to destroy this body when I see fit?

If there is a God and he wants me to live and accomplish something on this earth, and if we are toys in his hands, as they say, then why can not this be true that He is making me do this action and is responsible for my doings.

They say it is cowardice for one to kill himself. I say it is not, rather it is adventure, why it is bravery. The cowards are those who are afraid if they see the gun pointed to them, if a coward is at an elevated place, may it be the tower of the Woolworth building or the summit of Mt. Tamalpals he or she is afraid to look down. When the gas stove opened, ready to light, and match happens to extinguish without burning the gas the coward is afraid. Why all this, they are afraid of death. I have seen all these cases and also the brae who play with death.

Take my case for instance. I have a good home, fine health, good family, nice and lovely wife, extra good children, few but best friends and a paying business. I came to America thinking, dreaming and hoping to make this land my home. Sold my properties and brought more than twenty-five thousand dollars (gold_ to this country, established myself and tried my very best to give my children the best American education.

In the year 1921 the Federal court at San Francisco accepted me as a naturalized citizen of the United States and issued to my name the final certificate, giving therein the name and description of my wife and three sons. In last 12 or 13 years we all made ourselves as much Americanized as possible.

But they now come to me and say, I am no longer an American citizen. They will not permit me to buy my home and lo, they even shall not issue me a passport to go back to India. Now what am I? What have I made of myself and my children? We cannot exercise our rights, we cannot leave this country. Humility and insults, who is responsible for all this? Myself and American government.

I do not choose to live the life of an interned person: yes, I am in a free country and can move about where and when I wish inside the country. Is life worth living in a gilded cage? Obstacles this way, blockades that way, and the bridges burnt behind.

Yes, you can call me a coward in one respect, that I did not try to break the mountain with my naked head and fists.

Collection: Vaishno Das and Kala Bagai Family Materials
Donor: Rani Bagai
Item History: 2013-05-13 (created); 2023-04-05 (modified)

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