Immigration Case Study #1
H.R. 5804 “to execute certain treaty stipulations relating to Chinese”
Compelling Policy Question: What should be the goal of immigration policy?
In the opinion of the U.S. Government the coming of Chinese laborers endangers this country.
Therefore, it is illegal for Chinese laborers to come into the United States for the next 10 years.
The owner of any ship who brings to the United States any Chinese laborer is guilty of a misdemeanor. They shall be punished by a fine of not more than $500 for each Chinese laborer on their ship, and possibly also imprisoned for up to one year. Every ship whose owner violates this law may be taken from the owner and kept by the United States government.
No Chinese person shall be permitted to enter the United States by land without having a document allowing them to legally stay in America. Any Chinese person found unlawfully within the United States shall be removed from to the country, by direction of the President of the United States.
No State court or court of the United States are allowed to give Chinese people citizenship; and all laws in conflict with this act are now repealed.
In the 1800’s many Chinese immigrated to America from China. They came to mine during the Gold Rush, and work building the Transcontinental Railroad. One railroad went to China and recruited 15,000 workers.
In the 1870's the Anti-Chinese movement grew in America. In 1876 both the Democratic and Republican political platforms made anti-Chinese statements. (the 1876 Democratic platform condemned the "coolie-trade" and "the incursions of a race not sprung from the same great parent stock [as European Americans]", the 1876 Republican platform asked Congress "to investigate the effects of the immigration and importation of Mongolians on the moral and material interests of the country"). In 1877 the Workingman’s Party was established in San Francisco. It was led by a man named Denis Kearney who was famous for his “The Chinese Must Go” speeches.
In 1879 Congress passed a bill limiting Chinese Immigration, but President Hayes vetoed the bill saying it violated the Burlingame Treaty with China. In 1882 Congress passed another bill limiting Chinese Immigration. That bill is vetoed by President Arthur, who said the Bill's 20 year ban on Chinese immigration was not practical and therefore a violation of the Angell Treaty.
Anti-Chinese feelings also led to Anti-Chinese Violence. Examples of anti-Chinese violence include 18 Chinese people killed in Los Angeles in 1871, and 6 Chinese people were killed in Chico, California in 1877.
n 1882 by Senator Page introduced H.R. 5804, another bill restricting Chinese immigration. The documents below H.R. 5804 are related to the debate over restricting Immigration from China.
Section One - Why do people think immigration policy should restrict the right to immigrate to America?
The Chinese cooly contract workers are slaves. Their arrival is not immigration, it is an invasion. The United States stopped the slave trade because it was not a blessing to the African himself.
We want emigration. We want the men who leave their homes or country to better their condition. But I do not extend my hand to a cooly slave, brought here to compete with the white laboring-men of this country. This is not a fight in which the fittest survives. It is a question of whether we can maintain our nationality.
The Empire of China contains 400,000,000 people. They can overrun us and drive us out. During the Civil War the Irish died fighting for the liberties of this country. None of the Chinamen in this country shouldered a musket and fought for human rights.
It is not a question into which party politics should enter, but the interests and the welfare of all of our people. Every man, woman, and child impacted by this immigration is in favor of restricting this Chinese immigration, except for the men who profit from transporting them or by using them as laborers.
Our country is the “land of the free, the home of the brave”. It is not the home for millions of cooly slaves.
It is said that the great thing needed for the development of our country is a full supply of labor. If we had ten times our present population, we should soon have a hundred times our present wealth and power. There are many who encourage this tide of Chinese emigration. While they do not treat the Chinese as equals; their work is profiting the dominant race.
We are utterly opposed to the emigration of Chinamen or other Asiatics to the United States. The moral welfare of the country is a more important than its growth in wealth.
The free institutions and Christian virtues of America have enough challenges already. We have masses of vice and ignorance in all our great cities. We have four millions of degraded negroes in the South. We have political passion and religious prejudice everywhere. The strain upon the constitution is about as great as it can bear. And if, in addition to all the adverse elements we now have, there were to be a flood of Chinese population -- a population full of social vices, with no knowledge or appreciation of constitutional liberty-- we should be prepared to bid farewell to republicanism and democracy.
The Chinese have now lived among us, in considerable numbers, for a quarter of a century, and yet they remain separated from us. They don’t understand our government or our social traditions; they don’t perform the duties of a citizen, and they don’t contribute to support of any of our institutions, public or private.
They bring no children with them, so they can’t learn our ways through their children. We have no way to Americanize them, or change their relationship with our people or government. No nation can safely allow a group of people to live in their nation if they cannot be assimilated or taught the responsibilities of citizens.
Bribery, intimidation, and other illegal actions, are considered as ok by the Chinese. It is a fact that keeping law and order among the Chinese is impossible. The Chinese herd together in one spot, whether in city or village, until they transform the area into a perfect hive. Their homes are filthy, the only way to clean the area they live is to destroy all of the houses.
In almost every house is found a room devoted to smoking opium, and these places are visited by whites, so the deadly opium habit is being spread to our people. Our laborers require meat and bread, while the Chinese require only rice, dried fish, tea, and a few vegetables. It costs whites four-times as much money to survive than the Chinese, so they need to be paid more than the Chinese do. As a result, the Chinese are given the jobs because they are cheaper labor.
The Chinese can be hired in masses; and controlled like unthinking slaves.
Some people support Chinese immigration. Some Americans are getting rich off cheap Chinese labor. Religious teachers oppose restricting Chinese immigration, saying having them here gives us an opportunity to Christianize them
On the other hand, almost all laboring men oppose Chinese immigration, believing Chinese immigrants take their jobs. Lawyers, doctors, merchants, divines, judges, and others also oppose Chinese immigration, saying the Chinese are ruining our laboring classes, and are dangerous to free institutions.
The 35,000 Chinese in San Francisco crowd together living in filthy dwellings, ignoring health and fire rules. Their vices are corrupting the morals of the city, especially of the young.
The Chinese reduced wages to starvation prices for whites. As a result the white workers are bitter and hostile to the Chinese. There has been mob violence. The upper classes are not yet violent, they expect Congress to fix the situation.
The safety of our country requires only those who love our government be able to vote. This means the Chinese should not be able to vote.
A large group in the community, with a different language and religion, and mentally and morally inferior to us, are bad for a country, especially if they can vote
The Pacific coast must become either American or Mongolian. The two races are in opposition. They can never work together.
This problem is too important to ignore. Congress should solve it, or our
Pacific coast will be given over to a race alien in all its tendencies, which will make of it practically provinces of China rather than States of the Union.
SCENE--A Kitchen; Sam Gin washing dishes; Ah Coy smoking his opium pipe.
Ah Coy. I telly you, white man big fools; eaty too muchee, drinky too muchee, and talkee too muchee.
Sam Gin. White man catchee plenty money; Chinaman catchee little money.
Ah Coy. By and by white man catchee no money; Chinaman catchee heap money; Chinaman workee cheap, plenty work; white man workee dear, no work--sabee?
Sam Gin. He heep sabee.
Ah Coy. Chinaman plenty work, plenty money, plenty to eat. White man no work, no money, die--sabee?
Sam Gin. Me heep sabee.
Ah Coy. White man damn fools; keep wifee and children--cost plenty money; Chinaman no wife, no children, save plenty money. By and by, no more white workingman in California; all Chinaman--sabee?
(Enter Frank Blaine.) Frank B. Damn such luck; can't borrow a cent to save my life. Money is getting as scarce as flies about Christmas. I must have some. Losing three games of billiards, one after the other, with this flat-footed Jack Flint is a shame. (To Ah Coy.) Why don't you work?
Ah Coy. Your mother no payee me last month; no payee, no workee--sabee?
Frank B. How much does she owe you?
Ah Coy. Six dollars.
Frank B. All right, John; I get it for you. (Aside.) If I squeeze the six dollars out of the old man that Chinaman has to pay me commission, that's business (pulling Sam Gin by the queue). Exit.
Sam Gin. Damn hoodlum. What for you foolee me all the time?
We have met here in San Francisco tonight to raise our voice to you in warning of a great danger that threatens our destruction as a successful community. The danger is, that while we have been sleeping in believed security, thinking that the tide of Chinese immigration to our State had been checked and was close to being stopped, our opponents, the pro-China wealthy men of the land, have been wide-awake and have succeeded in reviving the importation of this Chinese slave-labor.
So that now, hundreds and thousands of Chinese are every week flocking into our State. Today, every avenue to labor, of every sort, is crowded with Chinese slave labor worse than it was eight years ago.
The boot, shoe and cigar industries are almost entirely in their hands. In the manufacture of men’s overalls and women’s and children’s underwear they run over three thousand sewing machines night and day. They monopolize nearly all the farming done to supply the market with all sorts of vegetables.
This state of things brings about a terrible competition between our own people, who must live as civilized Americans, and the Chinese, who live like degraded slaves. We should all understand that this state of things cannot be much longer endured.
A struggle is going on in the nations of the civilized world between the Oppressors and the oppressed of all countries, a struggle between the capitalist and the laborer, which grows in intensity from year to year and will work disastrous results to the toiling millions of all nations if not combined for mutual protection and benefit.
The history of the wage-workers of all countries is but the history of constant struggle and misery engendered by ignorance and disunion.
The experience of the last thirty years in California and on the Pacific Coast having proved conclusively that the presence of Chinese, and their competition with free white labor, is one of the greatest evils with which any country can be afflicted; therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That we use our best efforts to get rid of this monstrous evil (which threatens, unless checked, to extend to other parts of the Union) by the dissemination of information respecting its true character, and by urging upon our representatives in the United States Congress the absolute necessity of passing laws entirely prohibiting the immigration of Chinese into the United States.
Romualdo Pacheco (R)California, Speech to Congress on Chinese Immigration, 1882 (modified/link to original)
Pacheco was born in California when it was still part of Mexico. When California became an American Territory after the Mexican American war he was given American Citizenship. When California became a State in 1850 Pacheco became interested in Politics. In 1876 he was elected to the U.S. Congress. Pacheco's (bio)
***This document is currently being modified***
*St. Crispin is the Patron Saint of cobblers (shoe makers)
What May Come To Pass, New York “Truth”, 1880
Representative Manufacturer, (springing open Chinese surprise box) — "There! — What do you think of that little joker? "
Knight of St. Crispin. — "Pshaw! That's a mean trick! Wait till I open my box."
(He is referring to his right to vote, “his” box is the ballot box.
Section Two - Guiding Question, Why do people believe immigration policy should not restrict the right to immigrate to America?
We may be the most fortunate of nations. Other nations have had their day of greatness and glory. We are yet to have our day, that day is coming. There was a time when our country was full of contradictions; when our beliefs were mocked by our actions. The trouble was not our government, but the relationships between our people. We hesitate to adopt the principle which can solve that problem and give peace to the Republic, the principle of absolute equality.
This question of immigration should answered by principles of human rights. They are universal and indestructible. Among these is the right of movement. It is the right you assert by staying here, and your fathers asserted by coming here. All men should have this right equally. No race has superior rights of humanity. If there is a conflict between human and national rights, go on the side of humanity.
I want a home here in America for the negro, the mulatto, the Latinos, and the Asians, both for his sake and for ours. A brotherly welcome to all who come to the United States is the only wise policy which this nation can adopt. Our geographical location, our principles of government, our vast resources, and our diverse population, all make us capable of being the best example of national unity the world has ever seen.
Though the immigrants come in waves, we shall be all the stronger if we receive them as friends and give them a reason to love our country. The outspread wings of the American eagle are broad enough to shelter all who are likely to come. Here we all shall bow to the same law, speak the same language, support the same government, enjoy the same liberty, vibrate with the same national enthusiasm, and seek the same national ends.
Even if I believed that the stories about the “evils” of Chinese Immigration, or believed we do have the constitutional power, and the moral right to keep out the Chinese, I would still vote against the bill because I respect our treaty with China.
We have the constitutional power to make this law, but breaking the treaty violates our pledge. I will not vote to make this country one that breaks its pledge.
We are told that these people are aliens to us in thought, religion, language, and that they are poison in our country. I thought America was stronger than that. I thought this country welcomed the outcasts of every other country.
Don’t we represent the Declaration of Independence? How do we still brag about the superiority of our civilization and of our government? Weren't we founded on the belief of human equality and human rights? Voting for this bill will make our democracy a hypocrisy, and our religion a sham and superstition.
Do right ; treat every man, white or black, copper-colored or whatever, as you would like to be treated. Any evil you may suffer is better than the evil which you cause by not following that rule.
It is said that it is not a conflict of race, of religion, of color, of class, as it is about labor. I care about the suffering of workers in this country, but I do not believe this law will fix that problem. The real problem is the distribution of wealth. If every man had his fair share based on how hard he worked, there would be no starving man on this continent or elsewhere.
While it is obvious we should restrict Chinese immigration, a wise policy will consider our existing treaty with China. The location of the two countries gives our citizens the opportunity to monopolize the large and growing trade with China.
According to the Burlingame treaty of 1858, the United States and China will recognize the inalienable right of man to change his home, and also the mutual advantage of the free migration of citizens from one country to the other for the purposes of curiosity, of trade, or as permanent residents. The Treaty says Citizens of the United States visiting or residing in China shall enjoy the same privileges, as the Chinese citizens. And Chinese subjects visiting or residing in the United States shall enjoy the same privileges, as American citizens .
In this treaty we pledged the faith of this nation to China. Congress should not pass laws restricting Chinese immigration without talking to the Chinese Government first. Any unfriendly legislation on our part would show disrespect for the Chinese government. China might respond with laws damaging the property and businesses of thousands of our citizens who live and work in China.
It is important we remember our intercourse with China has just started, and that the Chinese Government does not trust us yet. They have strong national pride and self-respect in their four thousand year history.
A good national immigration policy is needed. It should be wise and careful, especially with how new our relationship is with China, and how helpful a good relationship with China would be.
They say this Law will help the laboring classes in this country. I do not want to insult the suffering of the laboring classes or other classes in this country.
It is the "Heathen Chinee" to-day that we are called to suppress. I remember when the cry was against the Catholic Irish, and condemned Germans, and when the streets of this city flowed with blood in the riots against the Irish and the Germans because they were “coining here to take away the labor of the American citizen and rob his children of their bread”. But, sir, the Irish and the Germans have helped create our country’s great prosperity.
It is said these Chinese are wicked. It was said in 1854 that if we allowed Catholicism to come into our country our liberties would be gone. How many men here to-day are from Irish families?
It is said the Chinese will not become Christians. I say to all men, if you wish to make Christians of the Chinese treat them like a Christian should.
When James Buchanan made the first treaty with China he made a step forward in the advance of civilization, Christianity, and commercial prosperity, and a step in favor of the human race. When the treaty of Japan was negotiated the two treaties together opened to Christianity and prosperity and fraternity a portion of the world which had been shut up for centuries.
I am not for taking a step backward. I am for going forward and treating the human race as brothers.
Context: This article was written in response to Legislation created in New York by the administration of William Tweed. The legislation is as follows: All such contracts now existing, or which may hereafter be entered into, are declared null and void. Any person who shall introduce any Chinamen into the State, under contract, to build railroads, grade streets, make boots and shoes, or perform other labor, is declared guilty of a misdemeanor, and shall be liable to a fine of not less than $1000, or more than $5000, or imprisonment in a penitentiary for not less than six months, or more than a year, or both fine and imprisonment, according to the disposition of the court toward Chinese cheap labor.
The working-men of this State know perfectly well that no such danger exists as that which is hinted at in Mr. Tweed’s bill. The Chinese invasion, of which he seems to be so much afraid, is altogether mythical, as every body in his sober senses is well aware; and Mr. Tweed presumes too much on the ignorance or the prejudices of the working-men if he expects to delude them with such a flimsy cheat.
A majority in this country still adhere to the old Revolutionary doctrine that all men are free and equal before the law, and possess certain inalienable rights which even Mr. Tweed is bound to respect. The bill is, of course, a mere catch. If the author really believed that the Chinese would soon overrun the country, and hold the balance of power at the ballot-box, he would not be among the last to bid them welcome.
People say the Chinese are a rotten, immoral race, and they are going to drive American laborers out of their jobs. At one moment every man, woman, and child on the Pacific coast say they hate the Chinese, but then those same people hire the Chinese to work in their houses because they are cheaper to hire than Americans.
They say the Chinese will never assimilate with us like other foreigners. But those who say this forget that our laws won’t let the Chinese become citizens.
If the Chinese are so dangerous and degrading, all the Pacific population has to do to get rid of them is refuse to hire them. They come to America to make money, and if they can’t get wages, they will stay in China.
The only reason to make a law prohibiting the voluntary immigration of free laborers into this country is if the law is for self-defense. Every nation has this right. But the honor of the nation will be tested by their motives to exclude people..
Considering we take pride in America being the home for oppressed people, and our Constitution says that neither race, color, nor previous condition of servitude shall bar a citizen from voting, isn’t it monstrous and foolish to say that American civilization is endangered by the "Mongolian invasion?"
. The bill is founded on race hatred and panic.. We have always invited everybody to come and settle among us, because here he has a better chance of improving his life than anywhere else in the world. If we now exercise our right to select new-comers because of race hatred, or of honest labor competition, or fear of local disorder, the movement will not stop there. Other rights could be lost.
B.E.G. Jewett, “To the editor,” Detroit Socialist, 4 May 1878. (modified/link to original)
I criticize by suggesting that your truly worthy and able paper cease to combat the Chinaman as a class, for what has the duties of the Mikados for the last one thousand years been but to make them debauched, degraded, greedy, selfish serfs? And what are the wealth-monger Mikados of America doing but making of their own race a set of menials who "work lower than a Chinaman?"
The Chinaman coming here of his own accord and at his own expense of accumulated earnings, has as much right here as you or I or any German, Russ, Switzer, Frank, Turk, Pole, Irish or Ethiopian in the land; and true Socialism demands that as air, land and water are eternally free to the whole race who wish to live, they shall NOT be debarred their privilege. For if they are ignorant, vile or needy, it is our duty as first occupants in this land to instruct in intellectual and moral duties and give them the means of performing them as, if we were in their land, it would be their duty to do unto us. What we want to fight is not the Chinese nor any other imported stock, be they Durham bulls or Spanish mules—be they men, women or babies—but we want to fight the importers, persons, who, ministering to their own greed, to the lust of the flesh and the pride of life, sell (or contract) into bondage the labor of others, and drive still others into deeper degradation and poverty. Let our pacific coast friends fight the wealth mongers, and not their slaves, and they will have not only justice but right on their side. Not say “the Chinese must go,” but that "the oppressors, money-mongers, Sharons, et al. must go.
Caption: “Intelligent Workman. “You need not plead my cause and my children’s. I am able, and always have been, to take care of myself and mine; and no large military force is necessary to keep the peace, for real working-men are not rioters, strikers, and blowers.”
Caption reads: “Red Gentlemen to Yellow Gentleman. Pale face, ‘fraid you crowd him out, as he did me.”
Caption: "Fritz" (to "Pat") “If the Yankee Congress can keep the yellow man out, what is to hinder them from calling us green and keeping us out too?”
Caption: Enlightened American Statesman; "We must draw the line somewhere, you know."
Results of the Debate
On April 17, 1882, five days after being introduced by Horace F. Page, H.R.5804 was passed by the House of Representatives. 202 Members voted Yea, 37 voted Nay, and 52 did not vote. On April 28th, 1882 the Senate voted to pass the bill after making an amendment. (details of the votes in image below- source: House Vote, Senate Vote)
On May 3, 1882 the House agreed to the amendment made by the Senate. Three days later, unlike the fate of the Anti-Chinese Immigration bills which came before it, President Chester A. Arthur signed the bill into law. Once signed, the Act became known as the Chinese Exclusion Act.
Consequences of the Chinese Exclusion Act:
The Chinese Exclusion Act was the first immigration law that targeted a specific ethnic group. In addition to the ban on Chinese workers who wanted to come to America, the Act impacted also impacted the Chinese already living in the United States. Any Chinese who wanted to leave the United States had to get a certificate that would allow them to renter before they left. The Act also denied Chinese immigrants the ability to become a U.S. citizen.
In the decades following the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882, lawmakers made amendments to the Act. The amendments made In 1884 made it more difficult for previous immigrants to leave the country and return. The amendments also made it official that the Exclusion Act applied to all ethnic Chinese people, even if they were not from China. In 1888 the Scott Act added to the Chinese Exclusion Act, and made it illegal for a Chinese immigrant to reenter the United States if they had left. In 1892 the Geary Act extended the Act for 10 more years. When the Act was extended again in 1902 it required all Chinese people living in America to register with the Government and get a certificate showing they were legally living in America. If they did not get a certificate they could be deported.
It should be noted however, that the Chinese who wanted to come to America, and the Chinese who already lived in America, did not just accept the Act and its amendments. Immigrants who were denied entry filed petitions, and Chinese-Americans organized opposition to the law. One organization called the Chinese Equal Rights League. Opposition was done in different ways. Many of the Chinese-Americans who were required to register with the Government refused to do so. were challenged in Court. One of those cases, Chae Chan Ping v. United States (1889) made it to the Supreme Court. The Court’s ruling declared that the power to exclude foreigners is a power every government has. This meant, in the opinion of the Supreme Court, it is Constitutional to pass a policy that bans groups of people from coming into the United States.
The limits placed on immigration from China as a result of the Chinese Exclusion ban was official government policy until 1943. The Act was repealed in 1943 because the United States relied on China as an ally during World War Two. The Magnuson Act was supposed to demonstrate American commitment to fairness and justice, but in reality it only allowed 105 Chinese immigrants to enter America during any one year.
In 2011 the Senate, and in 2012 the House of Representatives, both formally passed resolutions expressing regret for their role in the creation of the Chinese Exclusion Act, a government policy that denied Chinese immigrants, and Chinese-Americans basic rights because of their ethnicity.
While there was Anti-Chinese violence before the passing of the Chinese Exclusion Act, some of the violence which occurred after it passed where on a larger scale than before. Two examples include the Rock Spring Massacre in 1885 where 28 Chinese were killed in Wyoming, and the Hells Canyon Massacre in 1887, where 34 Chinese were killed in
Details of the Rock Springs massacre of 1885
In 1885, many angry white miners in Sweetwater County, Wyoming blamed the Chinese for their unemployment. A group of white miners robbed, shot, and stabbed some Chinese in Chinatown. The Chinese tried to escape the miners, but many ended up burned alive in their homes, starved to death, or were killed by animals when they were hiding in the mountains. Some were rescued by the passing train, but in the end of the event at least twenty-eight Chinese died.
The government sent federal troops to protect the Chinese. No-one was arrested nor held accountable for the atrocities committed during the riot.
Details of the Hell's Canyon Massacre of 1887
Thirty-four Chinese miners were killed in Oregon in a place on the Snake River called Hell's Canyon. The miners worked for the Chinese mining company Sam Yup. Although what actually took place at Hell's Canyon is unsure because local law enforcement was unreliable, news reports about the events were biased, and there was never any official investigations. It is likely the Chinese miners did not die of natural causes, but were actually killed by horse thieves who were robbing the mining company. An amount of gold worth between $4,000 and $5,000 was estimated to have been stolen from the miners.