Introduction to "The Chinese American Experience".

Key Issues related to "The Chinese American Experience".

Biographies of people related to "The Chinese American Experience".

Index of the Articles and Illustrations found in Harper's Weekly.

Articles and Illustrations organized by type.

Use the links above to navigate this web site.

Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882
After the revision of the Burlingame Treaty went into effect on July 19, 1881, Congress was quick to act on restricting Chinese immigration. In March 1882, Congress passed the first Chinese exclusion bill. It banned the immigration of Chinese laborers (skilled or unskilled) to the United States for a period of twenty years. It also required Chinese laborers already residing within the U.S. to carry a passport and excluded all Chinese from American citizenship. President Chester Arthur vetoed the bill, believing that the twenty year provision would violate the 1880 treaty and that the other restrictions were undemocratic. Congress was unable to override the presidential veto, so flags were hung at half-mast in San Francisco.
Supporters of exclusion then reduced the period of suspension to ten years and dropped the internal passport provision. Chinese in the U.S. were still banned from becoming citizens but were allowed to travel freely within the U.S., in accord with the 1880 revision of the Burlingame Treaty. This time, President Arthur signed the bill into law on May 6, 1882. The Chinese Exclusion Act, as it came to be known, broke with the American tradition of open immigration and was the first federal law aimed at restricting a specifically named ethnic group. Three months later, Congress passed a general immigration law that levied a fifty-cent tax on all new immigrants and excluded persons in certain categories from entering American territory—convicted criminals, the insane, and those likely to become taxpayer-supported.
Sources consulted:

Charles J. McClain, In Search of Equality: The Chinese Struggle against Discrimination in Nineteenth-Century America (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994)

Justus D. Doenecke, The Presidencies of James A. Garfield & Chester A. Arthur (University Press of Kansas, 1981)


This site is brought to you by…
HarpWeek.com
Website and all Content 1998-1999 HarpWeek, LLC
Please report problems to webmaster@harpweek.com