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Archives of Anticolonialism, Surveillance, and Solidarities

Tracing Early South Asian American Histories of Activism
By Seema Sohi |
MARCH 13, 2024
Ghadar Party publication written in Urdu, calling for an end to British colonial rule. Published in San Francisco in July 1910.
When I went to the National Archives in Washington, D.C. for the first time as a graduate student, I was not sure I would find enough material to write about the early histories of South Asian Americans. These were histories that were little known to me and rarely mentioned in U.S. immigration history courses. What I found in the archives was beyond what I could have imagined. In uncovering the broad, innovative, and heterogeneous forms of political activism that these migrants engaged in and the collaborative efforts of the U.S. and British governments to repress them, I learned that this was a far more complex and multifaceted history than I was aware of, even though I had grown up on the very ground and in the very spaces that this anticolonial movement took shape. What I also found is that the archives of early South Asian American history are archives of anticolonial mobilization, state surveillance, and racial solidarities.

Although South Asians began migrating to the United States in the late-nineteenth century, 1904 was the first notable year of migration, with the arrival of 258 South Asians. This number steadily increased over the next few years, reaching 1,072 by 1907. By 1917, however, South Asians were legally excluded from the country by the 1917 Immigration Act. The most stringent immigration law to date, the 1917 law included numerous provisions, including the “Barred Zone” Act, which excluded all peoples living within a constructed geographic region that included almost all of Asia. Because Chinese and Japanese migrants were already largely excluded through the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act and the 1907 Gentleman’s Agreement, the Barred Zone Act was intended to close the door to South Asian migrants. Though anti-Asian racism was deeply embedded in American politics and culture at this time, South Asian exclusion was not only a consequence of organized labor’s insistence that South Asians were inherently un-American and an economic threat to white workers. U.S. state officials racialized South Asians as a dangerous and subversive race whose anticolonial organizing, they argued, posed a serious threat to national and imperial security.

Excerpt of an article from the March 26, 1910 issue of Collier's Weekly on the "Hindu Invasion," which discusses the recent influx of South Asian laborers.
The anticolonial politicization and mobilization of some of the earliest South Asians to come to the United States was far from inevitable. The vast majority came as migrant workers with no history of anticolonial organizing. Fifty percent of them were veterans of the British Indian Army. But from the moment they arrived in the United States, South Asians encountered a deep-seated tradition of anti-Asian racism and white supremacist violence. As a consequence of their experiences as they moved across the globe—their exposure to revolutionary movements erupting across Europe and the Pacific and their firsthand experiences with racial discrimination and violence in North America, they came to see themselves not only as migrants seeking economic opportunity, but as politicized workers whose struggles against racism and exclusion in the United States were linked to the struggles of racialized and colonized peoples across the world fighting for racial equality and political independence.

The records they left behind—newspapers, periodicals, books, political speeches, testimonies at immigration stations, congressional hearings, and court transcripts—show us that theirs is a story not only of exclusion and repression but also one of protest, rebellion, and self-determination. Written in Gurmukhi, Hindi, Urdu, and English, their periodicals, newspapers, articles and books constitute an archive that interrogated empire, race, inequality, citizenship, and immigration and highlighted their experiences as excluded migrants, colonized subjects, racialized laborers, and surveilled anticolonialists. They fought back against racially restrictive immigration policies. They laid claim to America’s founding documents and most lofty ideals, even as they exposed the deeply racialized aspects of American society. They reckoned with the meaning, practice, and unfulfilled promises of American democracy.

By 1913, hundreds of South Asian migrants across the Pacific Coast came together to contest the interlocking systems of colonial subjugation and racial exclusion in what would come to be known as the Ghadar Party. Translated as “revolution” or “mutiny,” the Ghadar Party was the most well-known South Asian revolutionary anticolonial movement to emerge in the early twentieth century. Headquartered in San Francisco and with branches in cities including Vancouver, British Columbia, Panama City, Manila, and Hong Kong, the party’s goal was to free India from British rule and the world from white supremacy. A coalition of Punjabi Sikh agricultural and lumber mill workers in Oregon, Washington, and California and Bengali and Punjabi intellectuals and students, Ghadar activists came to see their fight against British colonialism in India and racism in the United States and British white settler colonies including Canada, South Africa, and Australia as part of the same freedom struggle. They believed that their struggle to overthrow British rule in India would change the course of history by advancing freedom across the world.

South Asian farm laborers tending field in San Joaquin Valley Island, 1909.
Their primary method for circulating these ideas was Ghadar, the party’s weekly periodical that was sent to South Asian communities in North and South America, Asia, Africa, and Europe. Although the Ghadar Party has often been characterized as a nationalist movement, its revolutionary aims were not limited to the establishment of an Indian nation-state. Party members often situated their struggle for self-determination as part of a global revolt against imperialism and white supremacy and believed that they would lead India’s effort to be the next Asian country to rise up against political subjugation. As one issue of Ghadar declared, “the eyes of the world are turned on India. The fate of Asia is in your hands.”i These anticolonialists wanted their struggle to go down as one of the great emancipation movements in history, at once establishing freedom in their native country, countering imperial claims that South Asians were unfit for self-government, and serving as a model and inspiration for the rest of the colonized world.

Ghadar activists immediately came under the scrutiny of British and U.S. officials and Ghadar was banned in India following the publication of its inaugural issue. British authorities viewed the Ghadar Party as, in the words of the Lieutenant Governor of Punjab, Michael O’Dwyer, “by far the most serious attempt to subvert British rule in India” during the First World War.ii After the outbreak of War, thousands of Ghadar activists returned to India hoping to overthrow the British Raj. Anticipating this, the British Indian government passed a series of repressive measures in India between 1914 and 1915 that gave them special wartime powers to repress revolutionary threats. These included the Foreigners Ordinance, which restricted the entry of “foreigners” into India and applied to all South Asians who had been living abroad and were now deemed “suspect” by the British Indian government. The Ordinance authorized the British Indian government to arrest and intern, “as though he were a Foreigner,” any South Asian who returned to India during the War. The Ingress into India Ordinance, passed a week later, allowed the government to restrict the movements of those South Asians who managed to regain entry by indefinitely detaining them or confining them to their native villages. Under this Ordinance, out of the eight thousand emigrants who returned to India between October 1914 and December 1917, 331 were interned and 2,576 were restricted to their villages.

The 1915 Defense of India Act put all of India under martial law and included a critical provision that allowed for the appointment of Special Tribunals for trying revolutionary crimes, from which there could be no judicial appeals. According to Viceroy Charles Hardinge, the powers authorized by the Defense of India Act were necessary for the public safety, for “there existed on the Pacific Coast of America a revolutionary organization which had endeavored to create trouble in India.” As Lieutenant Governor O’Dwyer later wrote, these laws were “our main safeguards against the returning Ghadr conspirators,” for the return of thousands of Ghadarites from across the globe during the Great War made British officials feel that they “were living over a mine full of explosives.”iii The passage of laws restricting South Asian mobility in India was happening at the same time that U.S. authorities were trying to bar South Asians from entering the country. Restrictive immigration and politically repressive laws to crack down on South Asian migration and political organizing in India and the U.S. were not parallel developments but mutually constituted and the product of years of surveillance, intelligence sharing, and inter-imperial cooperation between U.S. and British officials.

From the moment South Asians arrived in North America, British officials closely monitored them. British surveillance of South Asians in the United States was initially focused on New York City, where officials worried South Asians would forge political alliances with the Irish. By 1908, British authorities turned their attention to the Pacific Coast of North America where they insisted that South Asians needed to “be specially investigated” because they were building a political movement that was, in the words of the Director of British India’s Department of Criminal Intelligence, in the “an integral part of the whole political movement directed against our supremacy in India.”iv British authorities also began reaching out to U.S. officials asking that they crack down on South Asian anticolonialism. In response, U.S. immigration officials began periodically questioning South Asian migrants who arrived at American ports about whether they had “heard of the plots in India to upset the present government.” Those South Asians who arrived from the Philippines and Canada were also asked if they knew of or were associated with South Asians considered particularly “troublesome” by U.S. officials.v

Broadside published by the Gadar party outlining eleven ways in which the British exploit colonial India.
The formation of the Ghadar Party in 1913 only accelerated British and U.S. efforts to bar South Asians entry to the U.S. In a 1914 congressional hearing convened by the House of Representatives’ Committee on Immigration and Naturalization to discuss the exclusion of South Asians, Committee Chairman John Burnett of Alabama insisted that “a great many” of the South Asians seeking entry to the United States were “anarchists teaching the principle of the overthrow of government.” Representative John Raker of California, a vocal advocate for South Asian exclusion, alleged that South Asians were making the country a “hotbed of revolution” by using it as a base to organize radical political movements both domestically and abroad, prompting a number of representatives to insist that South Asians were dangerous agitators who must be

By this time, U.S. immigration, Justice, and State Department officials had been collaborating with British authorities for years by sharing intelligence, enacting deportation and criminal proceedings, and keeping a close eye on South Asians. While the British impetus was clear—these revolutionaries were actively working to overthrow British rule in India—the motivations of the U.S. might be less apparent. U.S. officials argued that South Asian anticolonialists were dangerous, subversive, and inherently “un-American” and if left unchecked, would embolden radicals of all types to use the United States as a site from which to launch revolutionary struggles. Prohibiting their entry was both a “domestic” priority—they represented the “menace” posed by foreign radicals thought to be organizing subversive political movements on U.S. soil—and a “foreign” anxiety that was symptomatic of a larger threat of worldwide anticolonial revolt. U.S. officials viewed South Asian exclusion from the United States as working hand in hand with the repression of other revolutionary movements. In other words, restrictive immigration policies and practices became tools of political repression.

British and U.S. anxieties about national and imperial security necessitate a consideration on the questions of security for whom and from whom? The more South Asian anticolonial mobilizations gained traction, the greater the sense of insecurity felt by U.S. and British officials. What U.S. and British officials considered security—namely the refusal to lose control of their colonies and their assertions of national sovereignty through restrictive immigration, deportation, and repression—was what constituted the very insecurities that these migrants contested. As these anticolonialists saw it, empire was the grave security threat to the safety and liberty of millions of racialized and colonized subjects across the globe. Ironically, nothing fueled South Asian anticolonialism more than U.S. and British state repression and the enforcement of immigration laws intended to restrict their entry to North America. The more the United States and Canada tightened restrictions against and repressed the political aspirations of South Asian migrants, the more their anticolonial movement grew.

South Asian migrants contested exclusion, racial violence, and political repression in creative, innovative, and bold ways. Ships crossing the Pacific Ocean became stages upon which to challenge exclusionary policies. In the summer of 1910, ships began sailing into the Seattle and San Francisco harbors carrying South Asian migrants from the Philippine islands who insisted that, because they had traveled from one part of the “United States” to another, they had a right to be admitted to the U.S. mainland. As incoming migrant Mohamed Khan put it, “I came from American territory [Manila, Philippine Islands] to American territory [Seattle, Washington], and it was with the understanding, on my part, that I had a perfect right to come over here.” Due to the stringency with which immigration officials were enforcing the public charge clause at Pacific Coast immigration stations, many South Asians began traveling to the Philippines first, where it was much easier to gain entry, and then proceeding to Seattle and San Francisco citing U.S. immigration laws that stated that any immigrant admitted to the Philippines was eligible to enter the mainland.vii

Since 1909, U.S. immigration officials had been using the public charge law to exclude fifty percent of Indians seeking entry to the United States. U.S. immigration officials claimed that racial prejudice against South Asians on the Pacific Coast was so great that they would have difficulty gaining employment and were therefore “likely to become public charges.” In response, South Asians began showing up at immigration stations to challenge the use of the public charge clause. They hired lawyers who provided affidavits from various businesses and individuals guaranteeing the detained migrants immediate employment. They asserted that not a single South Asian had become a public charge in the United States. They quoted a 1910 report published by State Labor Commissioner John Mckenzie, which declared that there was “a great scarcity of help” in the state and that farmers were worried that they would lose thousands of dollars during harvest season because of their inability to secure necessary labor.viii

Punjabi edition of Ghadar di gunj ("Echoes of Mutiny"), an anthology of nationalist and socialist poetry.
In March 1910, Osman Khan, who had lived in the United States for five years, told immigration inspectors in San Francisco that he could easily find work for migrants on railroads, ranches, and lumber mills across the state. Khan testified that, although he did not know any of the migrants personally, he had heard of their detention and felt compelled to testify on their behalf. As he explained, “they are my countrymen, if I do not help them, who will?”ix South Asians who had already been admitted to the country grew increasingly frustrated that after traveling to immigration stations on behalf of cousins, friends, or brothers, presenting documentary evidence of hundreds of dollars saved in local banks and guarantees of employment, and promising that social and religious organizations that had emerged in the previous few years, including the Khalsa Diwan Society and the Hindu Students Association, would assume financial responsibility for all South Asian migrants, immigration officials continued to block their entry.

Even though the number of Indians arriving from the Philippines between December 1910 and the summer of 1913 did not exceed five hundred, immigration officials in Pacific Coast ports warned that, unless immediate measures were taken, “a horde of East Indians will invade our shores.”x Inspectors would quickly learn, however, that prohibiting entry to South Asians arriving from the Philippines would not be so simple, for they had not come from a foreign port, but from a U.S. territory in which they had already gained legal entry. Officials were forced to acknowledge that, according to immigration law at the time, these migrants had indeed traveled “from one section of our country to another,” had therefore had been rightfully admitted to the country, and thus could not be barred from entry. In June 1913, however, immigration authorities used their executive powers to amend existing immigration policy without congressional approval, making it nearly impossible for South Asians to gain entry to the U.S. mainland from the Philippines. In effect, the amendment required all migrants reaching continental ports via Puerto Rico, Hawaii, or the Philippines to be reexamined upon landing on the U.S. mainland. If immigration officials believed that the incoming migrants were likely to become public charges, they were to arrest and deport them for entering the United States in violation of the law.

The following summer, the Komagata Maru sailed into the waters of British Columbia with 376 South Asians aboard determined to test the legality of the “continuous journey” law under the leadership of Gurdit Singh. Passed in 1908, the law made it unlawful for any immigrant who did not arrive by “continuous journey” from his country of birth or citizenship to enter Canada. Because there were no steamship lines sailing directly from ports in India to the Western Canadian provinces, the law ensured, in the words of one British official, that it was “practically impossible for the ordinary Indian labourer to enter Canada.”xi The Komagata Maru passengers demanded that, as subjects of the British empire, they were entitled to the same rights and protections as the white Canadians who excluded them. While Canadian officials had hoped that their refusal to land the passengers would end the matter, the Komagata Maru remained in the Vancouver harbor for a total of eight weeks, resulting in a highly publicized affair that captured the attention of South Asians across the world. As the weeks wore on, the ship’s passengers grew increasingly angry and restless. Many had staked everything they owned on the venture and had boarded the ship believing that they would gain entry to Canada as British subjects. Passengers sent telegrams to the Governor-General pleading for water and food, as provisions on the ship were quickly running out. Rats and flies were on the deck, the toilets were overflowing, and passengers were getting sick due to insufficient food, water, and exercise. They began making desperate appeals to be landed, claiming they did not “have enough physical strength to cross the Pacific again” and warning that the Canadian government would be held responsible for allowing them to die a “miserable death” off the Vancouver shore.xii After a two-month standoff, however, the Komagata Maru was forced to leave Vancouver in July 1914. In the early morning hours of July 23, thousands of Vancouver residents gathered on the shore and the rooftops of the city, while Canadian police officers lined the wharf, to view the ship’s departure.

In 1928 Gurdit Singh, who had chartered and led the Komagata Maru, published his own account of the ship’s plight, titled Voyage of Komagata Maru or India’s Slavery Abroad. Singh used his account to present a broader historical understanding of the impetus behind South Asian migration, which he rooted in imperialism, economic exploitation, and racial subjugation. As he wrote, “British Domination in India is another name for the disguised British exploitation of the soil, both of its wealth and intellect . . . the people have no opportunity or provisions to be trained in any useful and profitable art or industry. We do therefore stand in need of emigrating to far off lands.” Echoing Gurdit Singh’s understanding of the root causes of South Asian migration, Padmavati Chandra, who was married to Ghadar Party leader Ram Chandra, explained that South Asian migrants in the United States felt that “if it weren’t for the British government, they wouldn’t be . . . laborers doing this work. They’d be home in their own land.”xiii From their earliest days of migration to the western regions of Canada and the United States, South Asian migrants expressed their belief that they were forced to come to North America because of the destructive impact of British colonialism in their own country. U.S. immigration officials across the Pacific Coast reported that migrants arriving from India would frequently “complain of British oppression in their native land.”xiv Gurdit Singh also took the U.S. and Britain to task for at once claiming to be bastions of democracy, while simultaneously constructing a racially exclusionary immigration regime. As Singh wrote, such “ugly manifestations” of racism “proved the utter hollowness” of claims that western democracies upheld the values of equality and democracy. Further, Singh warned that discriminatory immigration laws from Australia to British Columbia would bind the “coloured races” together “with a tie of common indignation.”xv

As the Komagata Maru made its return voyage across the Pacific in June 1914, anticolonial activist Lajpat Rai penned a letter to the editor of the London-based The Daily News and Leader about the ship’s journey. As Rai wrote, the Komagata Maru was “a challenge thrown down, not only to the British Empire, but to the claim of the white man to possess the earth. It differs by its direct and explicit demand, from all other attempts of the coloured man to go where he is not wanted.” South Asians, Rai wrote, “do not come as suppliants, but as claimants.”xvi Rai was a charismatic leader who had come to the attention of the British authorities after organizing protests against British economic policies in Punjab in the spring of 1907. He spent five years in exile in the United States during the First World War, fearing arrest if he returned to India. During this time, Rai founded the India Home Rule League in New York and a monthly journal, Young India, to counter colonial representations of India as in need of uplift and civilization.

Photograph of Lajpat Rai printed in the February 1920 issue of Young India.
Rai took a keen interest in American history, particularly as it pertained to the country’s subjugated peoples. In 1916, Rai published The United States of America: A Hindu’s Impressions and a Study, a meditation on U.S. histories of race, slavery, and empire. Writing about the year 1619, when “the first ship-load of Negro slaves arrived in the colony and the first representative assembly convened on American soil,” Rai noted the simultaneous establishment of “slavery and of democratic government.”xvii In claiming that the building of the nation went hand-in-hand with the enslavement and dispossession of African and Indigenous peoples, Rai made visible the subjugation and dispossession of those whose labor and land produced the conditions that made the growth and power of the U.S. possible.

In an autobiography published in 1928, nearly a decade after Lajpat Rai left the United States to return to India, he wrote that imperial expansion was the driving force of Western history, within which the United States occupied a central role. “Until less than a generation ago,” Rai wrote, “the right of the white man to inherit the earth belonged to the category of indisputable axioms.” Rai continued, “the red man melted before him in America, the black man before him in Australia. He laid India under tribute and cut up Africa as if he were cutting up a cake, allotting this section to the German, that to the French, another to the Portuguese, a fourth to the Belgian, the largest share to the Englishman. There was no question in all this of asking leave of the natives. The white man would have as little thought to asking the natives whether they wanted him to take possession of their land as of asking the Kangaroos or the buffaloes.” Continuing his critique of the subjugation and exploitation of the colonized, Rai wrote, that the western imperialist had “carried them in thousands from Africa to till the Virginian fields and incidentally to sow the seed of a great colour problem for himself in modern America. He brought them from India in thousands to enrich himself by their labour in Natal and incidentally sowed the seed of a great problem for himself in the South Africa of today.”xviii Pointing to the exploitation of Asian and African labor as critical to the development of industrialization and racial capitalism in western countries, Rai described racial subjugation and economic exploitation as the foundations upon which western democracies had been built.

For South Asian anticolonialists, the struggle against colonialism also became a struggle against white supremacy and racial subjugation both in the U.S. and across the globe. Many studied African American life under Jim Crow to understand the broader contours of American racism. During the fall of 1908, Saint Nihal Singh, a South Asian journalist living in New York, traveled to the American South to study and seek to understand what he described as the “evil effects of the colour-line operating in the United States.” Singh reported that he was compelled to do so after the 1907 Bellingham race riots, when nearly two hundred South Asian workers were forcibly driven out of Bellingham, Washington, by an angry mob. Rioters viewed themselves as part of a broader global effort to protect and enforce “white men’s countries” and linked their demands for exclusion to those of their white working-class counterparts in Canada, South Africa, and Australia. At the same time that the racial regime in the American South was being reorganized in the post-emancipation era, a racial regime was coalescing in the North American West and white settler colonies across the Pacific. Under this new regime, Asian exclusion was viewed as necessary to insuring white domination. Upon his return from the American South, Singh published an article, “The Color Line in the USA,” in which he suggested that the full potential of American democracy and its corresponding promises of equality, liberty, and justice would remain unfulfilled as long as the color line continued to divide peoples along racial lines.xix

Saint Nihal Sing’s article, "Colour Line in the United States of America," published in the November 1908 issue of Modern Review.
Singh was clearly influenced by his contemporary W.E.B. Du Bois, who famously pronounced that the problem of the twentieth century was the problem of the color line. U.S. authorities were deeply concerned about what they viewed as the potential dangers of Afro-Asian solidarity, particularly the friendship and comradery between figures like Lajpat Rai and W.E.B. DuBois. When Rai ended his five-year exile in the United States in 1919, he penned numerous articles and delivered speeches in which he concluded that, for South Asians seeking to build a free and independent country, American democracy were far from ideal. According to Rai, South Asians could not look to the United States, where “the lynching of the Negroes” was evidence that “caste and privilege rule in the United States as much as in India.” As Rai saw it, the conditions of so-called “democratic” countries everywhere, was “a caricature of democracy—a democracy established to loot and exploit other peoples of the world.” For this reason, Rai and others insisted that western democracies must not be imitated, but transformed. Rai argued that South Asian anticolonialists were searching for “a new kind of democracy,” one that “would make no distinctions of colour, creed, caste, civilization or culture,” and “recognize no barrier between men which are the outcome of artificial social distinctions.”xx Rai and other anticolonialists were both influenced by U.S. democratic ideals and deeply disillusioned with the inequitable practices of American democracy. Their fight against empire was also a fight for the realization of democracies built not on racial hierarchies, white supremacy, and imperial expansion, but on freedom and equality for all people. In fighting against colonial subjugation and racial exclusion, they believed that would also play a critical role in the making of democracy during the age of empire.

Archives are much more than repositories of information about actions or events from our past. The archives of state surveillance and anticolonial mobilization reveal both the state’s fears and anxieties about anticolonial resistance and rebellion and its desire to exert power, control, and domination through imperialism and racial exclusion and allows us to see that South Asian Americans have not been marginal to U.S. history. Their anticolonial organizing prompted the growth of a transimperial surveillance apparatus in which U.S., Canadian, and British officials sought to repress their political aspirations and bar them from the country. South Asian American history also provides a counter narrative to U.S. national histories that privilege assimilation stories and model minority representations. While the genealogy of South Asian American history is a genealogy of race, exclusion, political repression, and surveillance, it is also a genealogy of anticolonialism that belongs within the history of freedom struggles that took shape in the U.S. and across the world during the twentieth century and whose legacies continue today.


i Ghadar, July 1, 1917.
ii Sir Michael O’Dwyer, India as I Knew It, 1885-1925 (London: Constable, 1925), 189.
iii Lord Hardinge quoted in Ram Chandra, India against Britain, pg. 8, box 1, folder 32, South Asians in North America Collection. Also see Sir Michael O’Dwyer, India as I Knew It, 1885-1925 (London: Constable, 1925), 197.
iv Samuel Backus to Secretary of Commerce and Labor, March 12, 1912, File 53396/10, Records of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, RG 85, National Archives, Washington, D.C. (hereafter cited as Records of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service).
v Board of Special Inquiry Proceedings in the Case of Rajoor Singh, Nov. 30, 1908, File 52269/21, Records of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service; Commissioner of Police, Bombay and Cleveland quoted in Baker to the Secretary of State, Aug. 21, 1914, File 6971 (microfilm: M862, file 540/541), Records of the State Department.
vi U.S. Congress, House of Representatives, Committee on Immigration and Naturalization, Hearings on the Restriction of Hindu Laborers, 63 Cong., 2 sess., April 23, 1914, p. 164-170.
vii For more detail on the cases of Indian migrants arriving on the U.S. mainland from the Philippines see File 53154/2-2V, Records of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service.
viii Immigration Inspectors D.J. Griffiths and T.M. Crawford to Commissioner-General of Immigration, April 14, 1910, File 52785/18, Records of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service.
ix Testimonies of Osman Khan and Fattah Deen, Angel Island, March 16, 1910, File 52785/18; Affidavit of Makhan Singh, June 20, 1910, File 52927/12, Records of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service.
x Ellis DeBruler, Commissioner of Immigration, Seattle to Commissioner General, March 29, 1913, File 53173/40, Records of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service.
xi Report from the Government of India, Department of Commerce and Industry, March 11, 1909, (Calcutta), file 536999, Records of the Immigration Central Registry File Series, RG 76, Library and Archives of Canada, Ottawa (hereafter referred to as Records of the Immigration Central Registry File Series).
xii Passengers on Komagata Maru to Governor General, July 18, 1914 & June 25, 1914, folder 40, volume 1139, Records of the Office of External Affairs. Records of the Immigration Central Registry File Series.
xiii Padmavati Chandra quoted in tape recorded interview, “Vidya C. Rasmussen and Mark Juergensmeyer with Mrs. Padmavati Chandra,” November 18, 1972, New York City, folder 1, box 4, South Asians in North America Collection, Bancroft Library Archives, University of California, Berkeley (hereafter cited as South Asians in North America Collection).
xiv United States Immigration Commission, Abstract of the Report on Japanese and Other Immigrant Races in the Pacific Coast and Rocky Mountain States (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1911), 63.
xv Gurdit Singh, Voyage of Komagata Maru or India’s Slavery Abroad, p. 58-59.
xvi Lajpat Rai, The United States of America: A Hindu’s Impression and a Study (Calcutta: R. Chatterjee, 1916), 41.
xvii Ibid., 4.
xviii Lala Lajpat Rai, The Story of my Life: An Unknown Fragment (New Delhi, Gitanjali Prakashan (Publishers), 1978), 42-43.
xix Saint Nihal Sing, “The Color Line in the U.S.A. and How the Negro is Uplifting Himself Despite Odds” Modern Review 4, (November 1908), 367-370. In his published writings, Singh’s last name was spelled “Sing.”
xxLajpat Rai, “The Problem of India,” (1919) and “A Call to Young India,” (1919), reprinted in Vijaya Chandra Joshi, ed., Lala Lajpat Rai Writings and Speeches, Volumes One, 1888-1919 (Delhi, University Publishers, 1966), 340, 311; Lajpat Rai, “The New Internationalism,” Young India, April 1918, 9-10; and “Congress Presidential Address,” reprinted in Vijaya Chandra Joshi, ed., Lala Lajpat Rai Writings and Speeches, Volume Two, 1920-1928 (Delhi, University Publishers, 1966), 50.

Seema Sohi is an Associate Professor in the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder. Her work examines the radical anticolonial politics of South Asian intellectuals and migrant workers based in North America during the early twentieth century as well as the inter-imperial efforts of the U.S. and British states to repress them.