Itwas the first significant law restricting immigration into the United States.
In the spring of 1882 the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed. In this essay Iwill talk about the conflict and compromise of the Chinese Exclusion Act. First, the conflict of the Chinese Exclusion Actstarted in 1875 when the Page Act was passed. When congress passed this Act, itwas directed toward Chinese and Asians. This started much conflict in 1875.
Between1870-1880 there were racial stereotypes and anti-Chinese violence. However, whenpresident Chester A. Arthur signed the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882, the act bannedChinese labors from immigration for 10 years, but was not supposed to affectmerchants, deployments, students, teachers, or labors, yet it did. When it did,that started much conflict for people who were even in favor of that act.
Thiscaused the conflict to turn violent. It didn’t get better from there, becausein 1886 Yick Wo’s legal victory established that under the 14thAmendment to the Constitution, laws could not be enforced in a prejudicemanner. After requiring that all businesses obtain licenses, San Franciscorefused to issue them to Chinese proprietors and arrested those who stayed inbusiness. When people got arrested for staying in business the conflict started.People got mad and began to boycott against the sheriff and joined with people tosue the sheriff.
In 1888 when the Scott Act was passed, it was Chae Chan Pingv. United States. Chae Chan Ping challenged a revision to the Exclusion Actthat barred all Chinese laborers, regardless of prior residence.
Chae hadattended his father’s funeral in China, returning a week after Congress passeda new law. Denied reentry, Chae sued and lost. The law stranded nearly 20,000Chinese Americans who were abroad at the time, separating many from propertyand family in the US. In 1892 president Harrison signed the Geary Act thatextended Exclusion for another 10 years. It also required all Chinese in the USto register with the government, carry photo ID cards, and provide whitewitnesses to prove their authenticity.
Risking jail time with hard labor, the vastmajority of Chinese refused to comply, instead contributing money to legaldefense funds. In 1898 Wong Kim Ark was denied reentry to the US after visitinghis parents in China, even though he was born in California and therefore acitizen according to the 14th Amendment. Everyone in his favorbegged for his reentry into the US, but Wong’s lawsuit went to the US SupremeCourt. His landmark victory secured this constitutional protection for allpeople born on US land.
In 1900-1901 widespread anger in China against foreign violationsand worsening conditions led to the Boxer Rebellion. The Boxers, a secretsociety, attracted a lot support for their effort to force all Westerners outof China. Anger over the insulting policy of Chinese Exclusion partly fueledattacks on Americans. Two thousand US soldiers joined the 20,000 strong consistingof western and Japanese troops sent to put down the uprising conflict. TheAmerican council in China sent home this Boxer- produced battle image. In1901-1903 students Fei Chi Hao and H.
H. Kung, who helped save Americanmissionaries during the Boxer Rebellion, were trapped in immigration limbo andpartial detention for 16 months while enroute to Oberlin College, despite havingmany supporters. Kung later became an important figure in Chiang Kai-shek’sgovernment. In 1903, one busy Sunday morning in Boston’s Chinatown, the policearrested anyone that looked Chinese in order to check their papers. Some hourslater they released some individuals, but detained other individuals for days.The random arrest sent shock waves through Chinese American communities aroundthe country. Between 1875 and 1903 there was a lot of conflict between otheracts, rebellions, and raids.
The first significant Chinese immigration to NorthAmerica began with the California Gold Rush of 1848–1855, and it continued withlater large labor projects, such as the building of the First TranscontinentalRailroad. During the early stages of the gold rush, when surface gold wasplentiful, the Chinese were tolerated, if not well received. As gold becameharder to find and competition increased, tension toward the Chinese and otherforeigners increased however. After being driven from mining by a mixture ofstate legislators and other miners.
The immigrant Chinese began to settle incities, mainly San Francisco, and took up low-wage labor, such as restaurantand laundry work. With the economy in decline, by the 1870’s, anti-Chineseanimosity became politicized by labor leader Denis Kearney and his Workingman’sParty as well as by California Governor John Bigler, both of whom blamedChinese “coolies” for depressed wage levels. Public opinion and lawin California began to demise Chinese workers and immigrants in any role, withthe later half of the 1800’s seeing a series of ever more restrictive lawsbeing placed on Chinese labor, behavior and even living conditions. While manyof these legislative efforts were quickly overturned by the State SupremeCourt, many more anti-Chinese laws continued to be passed in both Californiaand nationally.
In the early 1850’s there was resistance to the idea ofexcluding Chinese migrant workers from immigration because they provided essentialtax revenue which helped fill the fiscal gap of California. But toward the endof the decade, the financial situation improved and subsequently, attempts tolegislate Chinese exclusion became successful on the state level. In 1858, theCalifornia Legislature passed a law that made it illegal for any person”of the Chinese or Mongolian races” to enter the state; however, thislaw was struck down by an unpublished opinion of the State Supreme Court in1862. The Chinese immigrant workers provided cheap labor and did not use any ofthe government infrastructure (schools, hospitals, etc.) because the Chinesemigrant population was predominantly made up of healthy male adults. As timepassed and more Chinese migrants arrived in California, violence would oftenbreak out in cities such as Los Angeles. At one point, Chinese men representednearly a quarter of all wage-earning workers in California, and by 1878Congress felt compelled to try and ban immigration from China in legislationthat was later vetoed by President Rutherford B.
Hayes. In 1879 however,California adopted a new Constitution, which authorized the state government todetermine which individuals were allowed to reside in the state, and banned theChinese from employment by corporations and state, county or municipalgovernments. Though there is great debate over whether the anti-Chinese temperamentin California drove the federal government or whether Chinese racism was simplyinherent in the country at that point, by 1882 the federal government wasfinally convinced to pass the Chinese Exclusion Act, banning all immigrationfrom China for a period of 10 years. After the act was passed, most Chinesefamilies were faced with a dilemma: stay in the United States alone or go backto China to reunite with their families. Although widespread dislike for theChinese persisted well after the law itself was passed, of note is that somecapitalists and entrepreneurs resisted their exclusion because they acceptedlower wages. Thecompromise of the Chinese Exclusion act started at the repeal or agreement totake away that law. More controversial than repeal was the proposal to go onestep further and place the Chinese on a quota basis for future entry to theUnited States. In light of the overall immigration to the United States, atfirst glance the new quota seemed insignificant.
Yet, those concerned about anonslaught of Chinese (or Asian) immigration and its potential impact onAmerican society and racial composition, believed that even this small quota representedan opening wedge through which potentially thousands of Chinese could enter theUnited States. Because migration within the Western Hemisphere was notregulated by the quota system, it seemed possible that Chinese residents inCentral and South America would re-migrate to the United States. Moreover, ifthe Chinese of Hong Kong were to apply under the vast, largely unused Britishquota, thousands could enter each year on top of the number of availableChinese visas.
Fears about the economic, social, and racial effect of a”floodtide” of Chinese immigrants led to a compromise bill and fears thatmirrored the arguments that had led to Chinese Exclusion in the first placeabout sixty years ago. Under this bill, there would be a quota on Chinese immigration,but, unlike European quotas based on country of citizenship, the Chinese quotawould be based on ethnicity. Chinese immigrating to the United States fromanywhere in the world would be counted against the Chinese quota, even if theyhad never been to China or had never held Chinese nationality. Creating thisspecial, ethnic quota for the Chinese was a way for the United States to combatJapanese propaganda by proclaiming that Chinese were welcome, but at the sametime, to ensure that only a limited number of Chinese actually entered thecountry. President Franklin D. Roosevelt supported the compromise measure,connecting the importance of the measure to American wartime goals.
In a letterto Congress, Roosevelt wrote that passing the bill was vital to correcting the”historic mistake” of Chinese exclusion, and he emphasized that the legislationwas “important in the cause of winning the war and of establishing a securepeace.” The repeal of Chinese exclusion paved the way for measures in 1946 toadmit Filipino and Asian-Indian immigrants. The exclusion of both of thesegroups had long damaged U.S. relations with the Philippines and India.Eventually, Asian exclusion ended with the 1952 Immigration Act, although thatAct followed the pattern of the Chinese quota and assigned racial, notnational, quotas to all Asian immigrants. This system did not end untilCongress did away with the National Origins quota system altogether in theImmigration Act of 1965.Inconclusion, the Chinese Exclusion Act was the first act restricting immigrationinto the United States.
The conflict started with people who were not in favor ofthe act. Between 1875 and 1903 was the most conflict of the time. Thecompromise was the act of agreement. In other words, the repeal the ExclusionAct.