Should the Chinese Be Excluded? By Robert G. Ingersoll(1893)

“This law is contrary to the laws and customs of nations. The punishment is unusual, severe, and contrary to our Constitution, and under its provisions aliens-citizens of a friendly nation-can be imprisoned without due process of law. The law is barbarous, contrary to the spirit and genius of American instructions, and was passed in violation of solemn treaty stipulations…After all, it pays to do right. This is a hard truth to learn-especially for a nation. A great nation should be bound by the highest conception of justice and honor. Above all things it should be true to its treaties, its contracts, its obligations. It should remember that its responsibilities are in accordance with its power and intelligence.”

The Chinese started coming to California in large numbers during the Gold Rush in the mid 1800s, hoping to strike it rich and return home. Many stayed and more came, working in the mines or taking other jobs. In 1882, they were made the targets of the United States’ first law limiting immigration based on race or nationality, the Chinese Exclusion Act. The Chinese Exclusion Act, approved in 1882 in Congress and lasted for 60 years, was the first and the only federal law in US history that excluded a single group of people from immigration on no basis other than their race. It explicitly banned Chinese workers from immigration and existing residents from naturalization and voting.

There are two reasons for accelerating the speed of this Act. 1) With the completion of the process of U.S. industrialization, labor shortages problem has gone, so they were no longer welcome those uneducated and unskilled Chinaman who earn their living just by doing manual work. 2) In the 1880s, Chinese worker were restricted themselves on making garment, leather, and matchstick for living. Therefore, Chinese worker was of no consequence in the development of American industrialization.

In the 1776, US Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson set in writing the people’s unalienable right to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”. American are treated  with the so call human right, however Chinese were not protected under the human right even though they are human being as many other people too. In this case, the Chinese Exclusion Act against the sprint and genius of American Constitution.