The Chinese Exclusion Act was passed in 1882. The Chinese Exclusion Act was not passed because of fear of the increasing population in the United States. It was passed because of racism. It was also passed because Americans were scared of losing their jobs.
Chinese were sought for jobs in mines and railroads. Racial tensions increased as more and more Chinese emigrated, occupied jobs, and created competition for jobs.
The Chinese came to America in search of opportunities. Others fled China because of economic problems. The Gold Rush happened during a period of poverty in China, which encouraged the Chinese to emigrate to the US. In California, the Chinese newcomers soon became an exploited workforce, especially since they were predominantly male, but the wages they received in the economy were better than the ones they received in China.
Many Chinese became miners, and some developed the laundry business. Owners of the Southern Pacific Railroad, who sought to complete the transcontinental railroad, imported thousands of Chinese because they were patient and cheap.
Opposition in California was both immediate and strong. During the Gold Rush, thousands of Americans from the East began to have nativists attitudes. Also, non-American whites, who had suffered from Eastern nativism, attacked the Chinese in order to elevate their status. Many Chinese immigrants faced discrimination from many different groups. American miners felt that the hard- working and low- paid Chinese were reducing their wages. Americans claimed that jobs were scarce and that the Chinese were stealing their only jobs. The Americans also believed that the Chinese were sending too much gold back to China.
They believed the wealth should stay in the United States. The Chinese were considered strangers. They remained with their own kind and were very productive. Immigration taxes and laundry-operation fees were passed in order to limit the success of the Chinese workers. Cartoons and propaganda demonstrated hate toward the Chinese. Some slogans reinforced the view that Chinese “worked cheap and smelled bad” Even though Chinese people were discriminated, immigration was still in progress.
Many Chinese felt that their opportunities were still better than in China. Efforts were made to ban Chinese immigration, and a bill was passed in 1879. It was vetoed, by President Hayes, because it violated the Burlingame Treaty. In 1882, The Chinese Exclusion Act banned the immigration of Chinese labourers for 10 years. The population of the Chinese emigrating into the US, decreased from 61, 711 to 14, 799. Teachers, merchants, students, and visitors were exempt from the act.
The Chinese Exclusion Act created many problems due to different interpretations of the law and the inability for port officials to make or get quick, clear decisions. After the ten years were up, a new treaty was made in which China agreed to exclusion of Chinese labourers for ten years. In 1906, earthquake fires destroyed all family records, and the Chinese found a chance to use false names and identities and came to their fake relatives already in the US as paper sons and daughters. In the response, the city of San Francisco created a prison-like detention centre for incoming immigrants at Angel Island in 1910, where officials screened and deported fake incomers.
In Conclusion, the Chinese Exclusion Act made a great impact on the American people as well as on the Chinese. Many reasons were could have been the reason the US applied this act to the Chinese. Many Americans feared losing their jobs, therefore they took action. They also feared the spread of Communism from China.
American reputation remains tainted by its racism and inhumane policies towards the Chinese in the latter part of the 19th century and the early part of the 20th century.
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