(Start here)
Introduction

(PART I)
The Decision

(PART II)
The Lead-up

(PART III)
Race & Caste
in Thind

(PART IV)
The Aftermath

Coming
Mar. 18
(PART V)
Today
THE DECISION
United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind

The Problem: A 5-part Series

[Start here: read the introduction to this 5-part series]

On February 19, 1923, the U.S. Supreme Court decided unanimously to bar South Asians from becoming American citizens and to denaturalize those who had already done so in the landmark decision, United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind.

Thind, who immigrated to the United States in 1913 and even trained to fight with the U.S. Army in World War I, had begun his personal struggle for citizenship five years earlier, in 1918. Through its decision, the Supreme Court quashed the hopes of Thind and fellow South Asians in the United States to gain full recognition as American citizens.

The issue at hand was what was meant by “white.” Thind argued that according to the "racial science" of the day, South Asians were descendants of Indian Aryans who belonged to the “Caucasian race,” and thus were "white" and eligible for citizenship.



Thind lost, and in its decision the Supreme Court noted that the words "white persons" were words of "common speech and not of scientific origin." It further concluded that the Hindu "is of such character and extent that the great body of our people instinctively recognize it and reject the thought of assimilation."

The 1923 decision had a devastating impact on the nascent South Asian American community. In conjunction with other anti-immigration legislation, South Asians were prevented from establishing themselves in the United States for years to come.

It was not until 1946, more than two decades later, that South Asians were able to become U.S. citizens.

(Start here)
Introduction

(PART I)
The Decision

(PART II)
The Lead-up

(PART III)
Race & Caste
in Thind

(PART IV)
The Aftermath

Coming
Mar. 18
(PART V)
Today