Harper’s Weekly, April 16, 1892, page 362 (Editorial)
The Chinese exclusion bill, which was "rushed" through the House, after a talk of half an hour, by a vote of 179 to 43, is described by a Democratic member who voted for it as "the toughest piece of legislation that ever passed the House." It prohibits absolutely the entrance of any Chinaman into the country, and practically, without discussion, without popular demand, without any sign of general public knowledge of such a purpose, arbitrarily abrogates treaties, and thereby invites China to expel summarily and at an enormous sacrifice of their interest the large American colony in China. Under the circumstances it must be regarded as an act of bad faith upon the part of the House, and, could the bill become a law, upon the part of the country. It is impossible, however, that the Senate should concur in such legislation or that the President should approve the bill, which would even forbid the return to this country of Chinese residents who had left it for any purpose, however large and valuable their pecuniary and other interest here might be. Although the Democratic party is responsible for legislation in the House, yet of the 43 negative votes upon the passage of the bill more than half were Democrats.
There is no question that the Chinese are the most undesirable of immigrants, because, with all their useful qualities, they cannot assimilate socially or politically or morally with Americans. But the artificial stimulation of Chinese immigration is wisely checked by existing laws, and the only excuse for the introduction of the new bill is that the existing laws will soon expire. Those laws, however, are serving their purpose, and there is no public reason for not continuing them, instead of substituting more stringent provisions. The old boast that America is the asylum for the oppressed of all races cannot be pleaded as a reason for permitting any kind and extent of immigration. If America is to offer the opportunity of fairer play for all men than is elsewhere practicable, it is to be done only by the most careful regulation of immigration. As American liberty does not mean individual license, so, also, it does not mean abandonment of the practical conditions of liberty. Other countries are not to be allowed to impose their duties upon us by transferring their swarming criminals and paupers to our shores, and for the same reason the refuse population of semi-civilized or barbarous lands is not to be thrown upon us.
But these are arguments for wise regulation, not for peremptory and unintelligent exclusion. The basis of sound legislation is common-sense. Nothing is so practical, because it is the fruit of experience. One of the very few remarks of one of the greatest of American orators which have passed into current speech is that of Patrick Henry, in his famous speech, "I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience." The test of wise legislation is the public welfare, and if it be found that the public welfare requires entrance into this country to be regulated by laws, which are not in themselves immoral, such laws ought to be passed. But the headlong action of the House is an illustration of unintelligent zeal, which is due probably not to public but to mere political motives.
Harper’s Weekly, April 16, 1892, page 362 (Editorial)

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