Modern society is determined by the past, knowing the past makes it easier to understand the present, and learning from previous mistakes shall determine future actions. The American gold rush of 1849 produced increased employment opportunities in the Western United States but coincided with a period of poverty in China. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was the first piece of legislation act excluding a certain ethnic group from immigrating to the U. S. Instead of focusing on controlling the riots in California directed against Chinese immigrants, Congress decided it would be easier to ban any more Chinese from entering the U. S territory.
The encounter with the Chinese caused Americans to fear about the economic, social, and racial effect of an over-populated group of Chinese immigrants which led to the unjust act known as The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, affecting immigration then and still today. The Chinese immigrants were seeking to have the same chance at freedom and opportunity as any other immigrants. Miners struck gold in California in 1848. Following the 1868 Burlingame Treaty, increased Asian immigration ensued. The promise of instant wealth lured immigrants from countries.
They came for the gold but never really intended to stay in America. Rather, they believed they could make enough money to support their families, and then return back to China. At first, they were welcomed by the Americans when they stayed for the construction of the transcontinental railroad. When completed, it resulted into the unemployment of many Chinese immigrants which led to many leaving to find jobs in the city. However, as the gold ran out and other jobs became more scarce, the Chinese became targeted and anti-immigration sentiment developed which often led to mob violence caused by Denis Kearney.
Chinese became blamed for their willingness to work for low wages, stole jobs from Americans and kept salaries from increasing. An emerging sentiment of nativism grew, believing white Americans should have the first pick of jobs, better opportunities, and more rights over immigrants. Perceptions changed. Facing the continuous anti-Chinese violence… the government of China agreed to modify the earlier treaty and allow the U. S to suspend immigration of Chinese workers. The act was then repealed in 1943 after 61 years but not for idealistic reasons.
America needed a Far Eastern ally in its war against Japan. 222 The American’s perceptions of the Chinese contributed to the “justifying” passing of this unjust act. The Americans criticized the Chinese for being “different”. “Chinese immigrants also threaten American culture by retaining their “peculiar” and often “immoral” ways. Even if they want to assimilate, the Chinese are simply incapable of doing so; Eastern civilization is too vastly different from Western civilization”. Fear of the unknown.
Fear of being unable to adapt. Fear of meeting new people. But overall the fear of change. The idea of change overtakes and revolves around the mind of one. One automatically imagines the absolute worse thing that could occur. Just so happens that that’s what the Americans did, they feared of the Chinese becoming superior and weren’t willing to make this sacrafice. “The Chinese were viewed as being fundamentally different from Europeans and as somehow inferior”. Most European Americans were Christians but the Chinese weren’t.
The way Chinese communicated was abnormal to non-Chinese due to the fact that they couldn’t understand it because it was use of characters rather than letters. They were in the habit of wearing some sort of traditional costume and wearing their hair in long braids. Their appearances distinguished them from the Europeans. To the Americans, the Chinese would never be able to conform to society.
As much as they wanted to or even tried, they would always be considered outsiders. “… claimed that Chinese… ere unable to understand democracy as they came from “despotic” government systems, refused to learn English, and would harm the republican ideals of the United States by their presence in large numbers on the west coast”. Americans feared that the Chinese would barge in and overtake the United States. If they were to be outnumbered then chances are that all of their customs would change. Everyone would just focus on the Chinese rather than the Americans because thats what the major of the population consisted of.
It wouldn’t benefit anyone, no one wants to deal with such a thing. Not only did they deny basic civil rights and equal protection under the law, they were denied nationalization. The European Americans didn’t want to confront with something that was inconsistent with their core beliefs so they used the excuse that the Chinese would never being able to fit into their expectations. The Chinese immigrants were a “threat” to the U. S economy which helped to the “justifying” of this unjust act.
The Americans blamed the Chinese for the unemployment and deepening depression. In reality the Chinese were blamed for an economic crisis caused enthusiastic expansion by the railroads, over which Chinese immigrants had no control or responsibility”. It was easy for the Americans to blame anyone but themselves and not take responsibility for their own faults and errors. They preferred to use the Chinese as a scapegoat for their problems in order to hide the reality that they don’t like the Chinese for being different.
“Moreover, they drain the national wealth by saving up all of their earnings to take back to China rather than circulating them back into the U. S. economy”. The U. S used this absurd idea that not only were they working for low wages and the money wasn’t being kept or used within the United States but being spent and used for their own benefits outside of the country. They believed that the money should be kept within the U. S but knew the Chinese would fail to do so. “Job competition between these two groups became fierce, particularly after the Panic of 1873 triggered a long economic depression”. It was cheaper for the government to hire Chinese immigrants because they were willing to work for a little amount of money.
Businesses were saving money which benefited the owners. At the same time, the Chinese were mostly taking up spots in jobs that Americans weren’t willing to work in. They had established a reputation as reliable, hard workers. On the contrary, Americans refused to accept such drastically low wages and felt that the Chinese competed with them for the same jobs and held down wages by their desire to work for less. The European Americans were afraid and didn’t want to confront with something that was inconsistent with their morals so they used the excuse that the Chinese were a “threat” to the U. S economy.
The Chinese immigrants were said to be the cause of spreading diseases, provoking violence and drug-trading which helped to the “justifying” of this unjust act. The Americans viewed the Chinese as a plague rather than human beings. “… Chinese were viewed by many to… carry diseases like rats, habitually incite violence and drug use, and be prolific gamblers”. Americans made the Chinese seem like they had no self-control whatsoever and were the first ones to expose all these factors.
They are “responsible” and that if it weren’t because of them none of this would have ever happened. None of these problems were occurring before they came along. “… the Chinese were branded with having brought with them or introduced many dangerous diseases… such as leprosy”. To Americans, the Chinese were putting the lives of many on the line. No one knew what was coming their way, they didn’t know what to expect or what to do in order to prevent it. All they knew was that these diseases were rapidly spreading and their lives were at great risk.
Many of these women were lured to America under false pretenses or sold by their impoverished families and some cases they were abducted. Trafficking women was a very lucrative business … were victims of venereal diseases”. Chinese prostitutes came to the attention of many. In some cases, prostitutes often carried infectious diseases. The U. S began to worry about its reputation and what wou to the end if they didn’t put a stop or ending to it. They began to discriminate the whole Chinese population as a whole and how they are nothing but just trouble.
The European Americans were very self-absorbent and did not want to deal with something that was not worth dealing so they stated that the Chinese community were nothing but trouble. As a result of using these reasons; Chinese will never be able to fit in and assimilate into society’s expectations, were a “threat” to country’s financial stability and were the cause of spreading deadly diseases led to the “justification” of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. The European Americans acted out of fear and just found multiple excuses to use against the Chinese immigrants.
They went to the point where they created propaganda against Chinese to have the Americans turn their backs on them. They were afraid to admit that they were xenophobic because they would seem weak. The law caused a major impact in immigration then and still today. “A multitude of arguments were offered both for and against the repeal of the legislation just as many arguments were made for the passage of it. The debates over the decision to pass this controversial piece of legislation in 1882 were much more intense and thorough than the debates to repeal the act in 1943”.