The Motivations Of The 19th Century American Anti Chinese Movement

1617 words - 6 pages

In the late 19th century, a national wide anti-Chinese movement took place in the United States of America. The Chinese immigrants were excluded by the Native Americans. Their stores were stolen; their houses were burned down and even worse, many of them were killed. However, if we refer back the history of America, we will find that the early Chinese immigrants were accepted by Americans and were not the immediate targets of hostility or violence. In addition, the prosperity of America, especially the southern part of it own a lot to the efforts Chinese men had made. Then why was there so significant a change of the Americans' sentiment towards the Chinese people in the late 19th century? I would like to analyze this issue in the following paper.

A review of the history

The United States of America has long been a fantastic dream for most people in the world. They believe that streets in that mysterious land are paved with gold and one can make a really big fortune the moment he steps onto the land. In a word, America is hyped up in many countries as "Land of Opportunity." For this beautiful dream, many of them risked their lives, left their hometown and set out for this treasure land at the other side of the world. Around 200 years later, the Chinese people began to follow suit.

It should be noted that only a very small number of Chinese immigrants came to the United States prior to 1850. This number began to increase dramatically between the year 1850 and 1882, when the news of the discovery of gold mines in California reached China. At that period of time, western invasions and civil unrest had led to inflation, starvation and loss of land in southern China. Therefore, many young men sailed for the "Gold Mountain" as a last hope for their family.

Most of these Chinese immigrants worked as "coolies" or contract laborers in gold mines, railroad construction sites, farms etc. They formed their own community, "China Town" as we call it today and they played an important role in the development of the American nation. However, despite of their great contribution, Chinese immigrants suffered a lot from the discrimination and unfair treatment, or were even expelled from the country. They were considered the "yellow peril", "a population befouled with all the social vices." . Finally, in 1882, the American Congress passed the unprecedented Chinese Exclusion Act, which was the most devastating of all anti-Chinese legislations. It barred Chinese from entering the United States for 10 years, allowing only Chinese merchants, teachers, students, or travelers in, and only under strict regulations. It also required Chinese already residing in the United States to have a permit to reenter the country, and it granted all Chinese permanent alien status which meant they could not become citizens. Ever since then, the Chinese immigrants were excluded by the American society and it was not until 1943 when the act was repealed that the situation...

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