The Chinese Exclusion

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The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, known for being one of the most racist pieces of immigration in American history, was passed due to the racial environment in California, and white union activities, and racist political campaigns by opportunistic politicians. Before it was passed, Anson Burlingame, the first American minister plenipotentiary, created a treaty, the 1868 Burlingame Treaty, which recognized free immigration between China and the United States, along with providing more opportunities and protection for American merchants and missionaries, and guaranteed favorable treatment to the recent immigrants and permanent residents of the two countries. After the Burlingame Treaty was in commission, California went through an economic recession,…show more content…
Miller from California proposed an immigration bill which would suspend Chinese immigration for twenty years, establish a system with deportation and imprisonment penalty, and forbid the state and Federal courts from naturalizing Chinese. More than seven thousand cases came to the district courts, and anti-Chinese hysteria, violence, and mass expulsion was on the rise. Change was needed, and in 1887 Zhang Yinhuan, successor minister Zheng began negotiations with Secretary of State, Thomas Bayard. Zhang proposed to limit and suspend labor immigrants voluntarily in exchange for better protection of the Chinese who were already in America. Bayard wanted to increase the years of Chinese immigration suspension for thirty years, which Zhang persuaded him to reduce it to twenty years. The problem was: neither government ratified the treaty, instead, angry Cantonese mobbed Zhang’s home and the U.S. Congress passed the Scott Act in September of 1888. This act prevented the entry of Chinese with valid return certificates, at the time, the over 20,000 Chinese families who had temporarily visited their families in China, were not allowed access back into America. The Scott act also established a two story shed where all Chinese immigrants were detained until their paper could be cleared. This shed preceded what would soon by Angel Island in San…show more content…
Despite protests from the Chinese government, the American government passed the 1904 Immigration Law that made Chinese exclusion indefinite. In reaction to this, the Chinese people boycotted American goods in 19055. This movement spread to all major cities in China. And although the boycott did not provide better treatment or a new treaty for China, it forever linked the treatment of the Chinese in America to the Chinese nationalist sentiment across the nation. When the American Congress passed these laws to curb Chinese immigration, the Chinese population in decreased from over 140,000 to 75,000. The Chinese family life became difficult, with husbands working in the Unites States, while wives and children stayed in China. Most Chinese Americans linked the divided and weakened China to the unfair treatment of Chinese people in America. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was the first immigration law on the basis of race in American history. It set a precedent that unfair treatment of another race was alright in America. It shows the true hatred and close-mindedness that some Americans continue to have 133 years
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