‘the white races must stand together’
In February 1908, Sir Edward Grey, the Canadian Governor General, sent a ‘Very Secret’ note to Lord Elgin, the UK Secretary of State for the Colonies, informing him about a ‘sensational speech’ made by the United States President, Theodore Roosevelt, at a dinner in Washington, attended by the Deputy Minister of Labor and future Canadian Prime Minister, William Lyon Mackenzie King, recently returned from investigating the Vancouver riots. Roosevelt had invited Mackenzie King to Washington after hearing about the report he had written regarding Asian migration.
According to Mackenzie King's report to the Canadian government, Roosevelt, in speaking at the annual dinner of the Gridiron Club, the Washington-based organisation of newspaper men, had stated that ‘the time was approaching when it might be desirable to substitute the “big stick” for politeness in dealing with Japan’, and that ‘the fleet had been sent round the Pacific for a purpose!’ Mackenzie King reported, wrote the Governor General:
that the President took up the position, with characteristic vehemence, that the brown and white races cannot assimilate, that they must keep to their respective areas and that this is a question on which all the white races must stand together.
Mackenzie King formed the impression that unless Japan acted to restrict the emigration of its people, the United States would legislate to exclude them and that if Japan resorted to hostile measures in response, then the United States was prepared for war.