Galante
The Chinese in California: 1850-1925

Introduction

Why did the United States exclude the Chinese from immigrating?
The main focus of our exploration this week is The Chinese in California: 1850-1925 archive in the Library of Congress American Memory collection.  You’ll be examining a wide-ranging series of texts and images about the Chinese in America (mainly in the late nineteenth century) that were part of the on-going debate that eventually resulted in the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act and sustained it for decades.
The issues that were swirling around America in the late nineteenth century about immigration, and specifically Chinese immigration, were incredibly complex.  While it is impossible in a one-week unit to examine in great detail the many pro- and anti-Chinese ideas circulating, we can at least begin to discover, explore, analyze, and interpret how the Chinese people in America were represented in magazines, plays, poems, advertisements, speeches, and photographs during this period.   We can at least begin to unravel some of the strands in the web of ideas and causes of the first major legislation that set immigration policy in America for decades.  

So, your assignment this week is
The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was the first significant law
that restricted immigration into the United States
of an ethnic working group.