why was the chinese exclusion act important


The Burlingame Treaty was revised and the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed on May 6, 1882. The law was intended to restrict immigration from China for 10 years from 1882 to 1892, however the Exclusion Act was then extended by the 1892 Geary Act and then made permanent until it was repealed in 1943. Following the acquisition of California laborers were in great demand in the West. The land was vast and there were not enough people so immigration was encouraged. The
attracted thousands of Americans seeking their fortune. Anti-immigrant sentiment began when the gold started to run out. Then, in 1852, a terrible famine hit China which resulted in a massive influx of Chinese immigrants. However cheap Chinese labor came in demand again in 1869 when Chinese laborers were hired for the construction of the, however the completion of the railroad freed up thousands of Chinese laborers, fueling the hostility of American workers. The nation was hit by a long period of economic depression and high levels of unemployment. Immigrants were blamed which led to great friction and calls for the exclusion of Chinese immigrants. By 1870, the Chinese constituted 25% of the labor force in California. In 1877 anti-Chinese riots occurred in San Francisco, California. and in 1879 pressure from the west coast resulted in Congress passing a bill to ban Chinese immigration. President Chester Arthur at first vetoed the Chinese Exclusion Act believing that it violated the terms of the 1868 Burlingame Treaty. In 1868 Anson Burlingame had negotiated the treaty of friendship with China, guaranteeing the right of Chinese immigration, but did not grant the right of naturalization.


The Burlingame Treaty was subsequently revised in 1880 allowing the United States to limit, or suspend the entry of Chinese labor, but not to ban it. The Chinese Exclusion Act suspended immigration of Chinese laborers for 10 years. The law was passed by President Arthur on May 6, 1882. The 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act stated that. in the opinion of the Government of the United States the coming of Chinese laborers to this country endangers the good order of certain localities within the territory. The Chinese Exclusion Act also addressed the issue of Chinese non-laborers and required obtain certification from the Chinese government that declared that they were qualified to immigrate. The law allowed merchants, clergy, diplomats, teachers, students as exempt classes to enter the United States from China. Chinese immigrants already in the United States also faced new requirements as the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act also stated that if they left the US, they needed to obtain re-entry certification. Federal and State courts were refused the right to grant citizenship to Chinese resident aliens but these courts retained the legal power to deport Chinese from the United States. The second law passed by Congress in the same year as the Chinese Exclusion Act was the which restricted immigrants from Europe. This law was quickly followed by the that virtually banned foreign contract labor. A son or daughter of an American citizen was granted entry to the US regardless of nationality. If a Chinese immigrant was related to a citizen in America, he or she would be allowed entrance into the country.


This exemption would result in the phenomenon of paper sons and paper daughters in which many people falsified papers claiming their parents were in America. Although the Chinese Exclusion Act was only intended to cover a period of ten years later, Acts of law were passed extending the period of exclusion. The 1882 Exclusion Act expired in 1892 but a new treaty was signed in 1894 in which China agreed to exclusion of Chinese laborers for 10 years and the Exclusion Act was extended it for 10 years through the Geary Act. The was opened in 1910. The extensions continued and were eventually made permanent and the immigration law of 1924 excluded all classes of Chinese immigrants and extended restrictions to other Asian immigrant groups. In 1943 the Exclusion Acts were repealed when the 1943 Magnuson Act was signed, setting an annual immigration quota and extending citizenship privileges to Chinese. The Chinese Exclusion Act was the first major law restricting immigration to the United States. It was enacted in response to economic fears, especially on the West Coast, where native-born Americans attributed unemployment and declining wages to Chinese workers whom they also viewed as racially inferior. The Chinese Exclusion Act, signed into law on May 6, 1882, by President Chester A. Arthur, effectively halted Chinese immigration for ten years and prohibited Chinese from becoming US citizens. Through the Geary Act of 1892, the law was extended for another ten years before becoming permanent in 1902. After the Gold Rush of 1849, the Chinese were drawn to the West Coast as a center of economic opportunity where, for example, they helped build the first transcontinental railroad by working on the Central Pacific from 1864 to 1869.


The Chinese Exclusion Act foreshadowed the immigration-restriction acts of the 1920s, culminating in the National Origins Act of 1929, which capped overall immigration to the United States at 150,000 per year and barred Asian immigration. The law was repealed by the Magnuson Act in 1943 during World War II, when China was an ally in the war against imperial Japan. Nevertheless, the 1943 act still allowed only 105 Chinese immigrants per year, reflecting persisting prejudice against the Chinese in American immigration policy. It was not until the Immigration Act of 1965, which eliminated previous national-origins policy, that large-scale Chinese immigration to the United States was allowed to begin again after a hiatus of over 80 years. Browse Published Materials Digitized for Immigration to the US Listed below are web sites about, or related to, the Chinese Exclusion Act. These resources are listed to point users to further information outside the context of the Immigration to the US collection. The Open Collections Program and Harvard University bear no responsibility for the contents of these web sites. This list is not intended to be comprehensive. PBS Online. University of California Berkley, California Historical Society, Bancroft Library, and the Ethnic Studies Library. The Chinese in California, 1850 1925. Chinatown San Francisco: Text of the Geary Act.

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