Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Christopher Steinke

Second Advisor

Jeff Wells

Committee Members

Christopher Steinke, Torsten Homberger, Doug Biggs


Eugenics;Interwar Years;Madison Grant;Nativism;Pearl Harbor;Racism


This thesis examines how the anti-Japanese sentiment and legislation promoted by those leading the American eugenics movement contributed to the key economic, diplomatic, and social policies that influenced the start of the Pacific War. In the years leading up to and following World War I, Japan desired and sought full parity, including diplomatic racial equality, with the United States and other Anglo-Saxon powers. However, the United States wanted to maintain the pre- and post-World War I world order, which meant the continued subordination of Japan on the world stage. As both nations sought global economic expansion and colonialism in the Far East, the attitudes and behaviors of both nations eventually thrust them into war. The rise of American racial prejudice embodied in the theories of scientific racism, most notably the ideology of eugenics, led to anti-Japanese sentiment from the turn of the twentieth century on and influenced the relationship between the two nations. Whatever potential reconciliation efforts existed with Japan expired with the passage of the Immigration Act of 1924 (Johnson-Reed Act). Several high-ranking Japanese diplomats and military officials believed that if nations outside the US did not attain racial equality, then the next war would be along the color line. Thus, this hostility intensified up to the attack on Pearl Harbor. This thesis addresses how Madison Grant, and his exclusionists utilized the eugenics movement and scientific racialized ideology to influence political, economic, social, and diplomatic decision making that contributed to the dismantling of relations with Japan.



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