The Chinese inspector
On June 28, 1893, the Kansas City Journal ran a brief news item from Washington, D.C.under this heading:
Who was “Hogerty” and why did it take so long for him to get a job as “Chinese inspector?” And what is a “Chinese inspector”? The answers reveal interesting facets of U.S. life thirty years after the end of the Civil War.
The Journal story says only of Hogerty that he lives in Kansas City, Kansas and is “a one-armed soldier with a good soldier record.” In William Cutler’s History of the State of Kansas (1883), however, he emerges as a rather remarkable man. Born in New York in 1840 to Irish immigrants, William Patrick Hogarty – the Journal spelled his name incorrectly – was orphaned at age 9. When the war broke out he was a college student. He enlisted as a private in the 23rd New York Infantry on May 6, 1861, so he would have been among the first to answer Lincoln’s call for volunteers to defend the capital.
Hogarty fought in many battles, including Cedar Mountain, Second Bull Run, and South Mountain. For bravery at the battle of Antietam in September, 1862, he received the Medal of Honor, one of only about 1500 Union troops -- out of the 2 million who served -- to be so recognized. According to the medal’s citation, “He stayed with his battery and alone fired gun into the charging enemy.”
Three months later, at the battle of Fredericksburg, Hogarty lost his left arm and was invalided out, returning to service as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Veteran Reserve Corps. Later he was made an honorary or “brevetted” Captain of Volunteers; thus the “Captain” title.
During the post-war Reconstruction period Hogarty served the Freedman’s Bureau in Kentucky and Tennessee, “capturing ku-klux, guerrillas, and desperadoes who infested that section of the country after the war; also paying bounties and establishing schools,” according to Cutler’s History. He was stationed at Quindaro and settled down in Kansas City, Kansas with his wife, Harriet. The one-armed veteran built the family house himself. They had eight children, only three of them surviving to maturity. Three of the Hogarty children died in 1886 alone, possibly in the cholera epidemic sweeping the country.
Hogarty was known as a scholarly, literary man who studied everything from architecture to French. He believed in education for all, including his three daughters, one of whom graduated from medical school; one daughter recalls his having said, "Your education is the only thing you can take with you."
After leaving the army Hogarty was also an activist in the cause of pensions for aging veterans of the Union army. Veteran pensions for the country's several wars to date -- Mexican and Indian, as well as the Civil War and even the war of 1812 -- had become the largest single item in the federal budget. Efforts to reduce the number of veterans eligible for pensions were a hot political issue in 1893. Cutler’s History notes that Captain Hogarty was “largely instrumental in defeating the Hon. E.S. Bragg’s amendment to the army appropriation bill, stopping all further argument of longevity allowance for service in retirement.” When Grover Cleveland, the first Democratic president since the war, was elected in 1884, Hogarty was reported in the Wyandotte Gazette [November 7, 1884, p. 3] probably in jest, to be forming a "combination show company" to make a living: "Something must be done to make a living," reported the Republican paper, "now that the solid south have elected a president and their pensions will be taken from them. Cornet solos are being rehearsed nightly (between the hours of 12 and 2,) in the woods near Quindaro."
Why, then, did it take so long for such a distinguished man to get a government appointment? It is this question that the always partisan Journal is mainly interested in addressing in its June 28 story. In 1893, patronage appointments to lucrative government jobs were a common way for politicians to reward supporters. When the party in power changed from Republican to Democrat in 1893, a host of office seekers descended on the new administration of Grover Cleveland, seeking rewards for their support of the Democrats or, in Hogarty’s case, for loyal service to the Union. As a Kansan, Hogarty had sought the support of his state senator, John Martin, to put him forward for a position.
Instead, the story suggests -- apparently quoting Captain Hogarty -- Martin had “recommended Confederate soldiers" instead of Hogarty, ”since the senator is “saturated with the views of the border ruffian legislature, which he took into his system when he was clerk of that distinguished body.” The reverberations of events almost forty years before can be heard, a time when pro-slavery men known as “border ruffians” had swarmed into Kansas from Missouri in 1855 and set up an illegitimate Legislature – ironically called a "distinguished body" by the Journal -- aimed at making Kansas a slave state. Martin was assistant clerk in that legislature. The story suggests he still had his Confederate sympathies.
Martin was a particular foe of the Daily Journal’s editors on the grounds not only of his “border ruffian” sympathies but also because of his current alliance as a Democrat with Kansas's Populists after their success in the 1892 elections. His selection as senator to fill the place of a predecessor who had died was widely contested. The Journal article goes on to quote Hogarty’s speculations that the appointment went through despite Martin’s opposition. Another old soldier is reported to have argued that the Cleveland administration was insulting old Union soldiers even while “two Confederates had been given the very places that Hogerty desired.”
Only at the end of the Journal article is the position itself mentioned: “Hogerty gets $4 a day and expenses as Chinese inspector. He has not been located so far, but it is thought he will be assigned to Kansas City.”
The creation of a Chinese inspector for Kansas City was a result of the so-called “Geary Act” of 1892, titled baldly “An Act to Prohibit the Coming of Chinese Persons into the United States.” A continuation of the Chinese exclusion act of 1882, its purpose was to make permanent the exclusion of Chinese laborers as immigrants to the U.S., although “exempt” groups, such as merchants, were still allowed to travel to and from China.
Those already living in the country were required to register by May 5, 1893, and carry with them a certificate of residence or risk immediate arrest and imprisonment at hard labor, followed by deportation. Two white witnesses were needed to testify to a Chinese person’s immigration status. No ethnic group had previously been singled out in this way. Later, the law was modified somewhat: the need for two white witnesses was dropped and the deadline for registration extended, but the U.S. Supreme Court declared the law constitutional and the process of registration was resumed in December.
To enforce the Act, a federal office was created in the Treasury Department: Superintendent of Immigration. The office’s “Chinese inspectors" were responsible for determining the status of local Chinese residents. Most inspectors got their job through political patronage and lacked any kind of training to enforce the law fairly, but given Captain Hogarty's reputation as a scourge of the Ku Klux Klan, Kansas City's Chinese population would have found in him a sympathetic ear in the face of the racism of the Geary Act.
In July, however, news came that Hogarty had returned from Washington with an appointment to the Chinese inspectorship in Bonner's Ferry, Idaho. "Besides looking after the Chinese," says the report, "he will be inspector of the port at that point." Hogarty was said to be "highly elated over receiving the office" and had spent the day shaking hands with friends. There is no further information in 1893 newspapers on how, or even whether, Hogarty carried out his duties in Idaho, since enforcement of the Geary law was delayed for the duration of 1893, after Congress failed to appropriate funds for its enforcement.
The inspector's goverment pay of $4 a day was generous for the time. By comparison, a patrolman in the KC police department received $70 a month (Kansas City Daily Journal, April 18 p. 8). Hogarty died in 1914,two years after Harriet. He is buried in Quindaro Cemetery, Kansas City, Kansas.
February 11, 2012