Chinese Immigration In The 19th Century

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While the two immigration groups discussed are about one and a half centuries apart, the reactions of political figures and the general public are highly similar. In the 19th century, the United States federal government sought to curtail alien labor and immigration through legislative means. In contemporary times, legislators and the executive branch has been seeking to accomplish the same goal through executive and legislative actions. The motivation behind these actions have remained relatively unchanged in both instances.
Reactions to Chinese Immigrants in the Nineteenth Century Prior to the Financial Panic of 1873, the United States largely supported the Chinese influx into the country. In the Burlingame-Seward Treaty of 1868, the United States and China signed a bilateral treaty that allowed for free immigration and expanded business ventures with one another. The treaty was perhaps the first equal treaty between China and a Western state since the Second Opium War. However, the sentiments of mutual
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These immigrants were perceived to be “stealing” jobs from native White Americans (Lee 2002). These immigrants were portrayed poorly by media at the time through printed newspapers. They were seen as workers who are willing to “monopolize” certain labor markets by working for longer hours and lower wages. In some instances, political cartoons even illustrated Chinese laborers as inhuman; this notion is sometimes referred to as the “Yellow Fear”. As a result, a market economy would naturally prefer those employees. The fear of Chinese immigrants was not purely due to economic reasons. In reality, Chinese workers and culture were seen as invasive and pervasive with contradictions to American values. Therefore, Chinese workers were not only seen as economic opponents, but as an epidemic that can erode away the very fabric of American society (Ryo
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