In the 1850s, many Chinese immigrants came to the United States to work in the gold mines, in garment factories, and on farms.They also helped to build the railroads that connected the different regions of the country. As the Chinese immigrants became more successful, resentment towards them from other Americans grew. This prompted many to support anti-chinese legislation, the most important of which being the Chinese Exclusion Act.
So What Was It?
The Chinese Exclusion Act was passed by Congress in 1882 and prohibited the immigration of Chinese laborers for a ten year period. In addition, the Act also required all Chinese people to carry documentation identifying themselves as laborers, scholars, diplomats, or merchants. The exclusion was expanded in 1888 when Congress passed the Scott Act, which made it impossible for Chinese to return to America after having visited China. Later, in 1892,Congress voted to renew exclusion for ten years in the Geary Act. In 1902, Congress expanded the Act to exclude Hawaiian and the Philippino immigrants as well. Eventually Congress decided to expand the The Chinese Exclusion Act indefinitely.
Shows the tension filled relationship between the US and China
The Chinese Exclusion Act was the first time in American history that we placed restrictions on immigration. The Act was not repealed until 1943, and was only done so in an effort to preserve the morale of a WWII ally. The harsh restrictions on Chinese immigration, combined with the rising discrimination against Chinese living in the United States at this time, created a strain on the diplomatic relationship between the United States and China.