Bhicaji Framji Balsara (often misrendered as Bhicaji Franyi Balsara) (May 30, 1872 – 1962) was a Parsi immigrant to the United States, notable for being amongst the first Indians to become naturalized U.S. citizens.
Balsara arrived in the United States in 1900, as a cotton buyer for the Tata group and both settled and married in New York. He applied for citizenship in 1906, but was only granted the status in 1909 after he fought his case before two courts, the Circuit Court in New York and the Federal Court of Appeal. This is as the initial presiding judge, Emile Henry Lacombe in the Circuit Court only reluctantly conferred American citizenship on Balsara, as he reasoned that there “was much force in the argument that the Congress which framed the original act for naturalization of aliens ...intended it to include only white persons belonging to the races whose emigrants had contributed to the building up on this continent of the community of people which declared itself a new nation ..." Lacombe did however concede that Balsara "appears to be a gentleman of high character and exceptional intelligence".
Lacombe only gave Balsara citizenship on the hope that the United States attorney would indeed challenge his decision and appeal it to create “an authoritative interpretation” of the law. As Lacombe felt if, the definition of "free white persons" was to be extended "... it... [would] bring in, not only the Parsee.,… which is probably the purest Aryan type, but also Afghans, Hindoos, Arabs, and Berbers.”
The U.S. attorney adhered to Lacombe’s wishes and took the matter to the Circuit Court of Appeals in 1910. The Circuit Court of Appeal agreed that Parsees belong to the white race and were "as distinct from Hindus as are the English who dwell in India”.
Balsara married Louise Darre, and together they had two daughters.
- Indians in the New York City metropolitan region
- Racial classification of Indian Americans
- United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind
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