The Chinese Exclusion Act

1940 Words8 Pages
When the framers of the Constitution were laying the foundation for the United States, their intention was to establish a powerful new nation on the basis of freedom and equality. With the emancipation of black slaves and mass immigrations by Irish, Germans, Jews, and other groups in the mid- to late-19th century, the idea of the American Dream was beginning to be popularized. As a country founded on the idea of freedom and equality, the United States opened its doors to immigrants seeking a better life. At the same time, tension between many white native-born citizens and emancipated black slaves after the Civil War left many xenophobic and racist attitudes amongst the citizens. The American idea of freedom and equality for those seeking the American Dream was soon betrayed by the legislation excluding the Chinese people from immigration to America from the years 1882 to 1943. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was a pivotal law rooted in a history of American racism and violent prejudices towards the Chinese based on the labor market, a fear of cultural takeover, and social differences. After the first wave of Chinese immigrants arrived in the United States in the early 1840s during the California Gold Rush, many Chinese people continued to travel across the Pacific escaping poor conditions in China with hopes and ambitions for a better life in America. Soon after the first wave, many more Chinese immigrants began to arrive into the 1860s on the Pacific coast for work in other areas such as the railroad industry. The immigrants noticed an increasing demand for their labor because of their readiness to work for low wages. Many of those who arrived wanted to go home at some point, and therefore there was no push for naturalization... ... middle of paper ... ...ent “this problem is too important to be treated with indifference” and must be solved before the United States turns into “practically provinces of China rather than States of the Union.” When the Chinese Exclusion Act was signed into law in May 1882, it was followed by a rapidly decreasing amount of new immigrants to the United States. Regardless of problems that the United States attempted to solve with the Act, violent massacre and persecution of Chinese people in the United States continued. Because of this, many Chinese immigrants that did stay in America continued on for years to receive prejudice and racism in the labor market and cultural society. This then continued to force many Chinese immigrants further and further down the path of segregation and into the protection of Chinatowns and poverty, counteracting the great American idea of the “melting pot.”

More about The Chinese Exclusion Act

Open Document