Should the Chinese Be Excluded? (1893)

“The Chinese are not driven away because there is no room for them. Our country is not crowded. There are many millions of acres waiting for the plow. There is plenty of room here under our flag for five hundred millions of people. These Chinese that we wish to oppress and imprison are people who understand the art of irrigation… They are modest and willing to occupy the lowest seats.”

Robert G. Ingersoll is an Illinois attorney who despised the unwarranted and racist views that filled anti- Chinese laws. He was a reputable speaker and public figure who addressed many other issues and established his creditability as an orator.

To explain his viewpoint on the unwarranted, unjustified treatment of immigrants, Ingersoll referred to the arrival of the Irish and German. They became numerous in population and soon became powerful and an influential presence in the political field. Eventually the Irish and the Germans drove the native Americans out of trades and other forms of labor.

Yet when the Chinese arrived, they had no plans of moving up the social ladder. They were “inoffensive, peaceful, and non meddlesome.” They simply worked for themselves and didn’t try to instil their different faiths and culture onto other people. The Chinese were considerate of others yet they were met with hate and resistance – political with the Exclusion Act in 1892. Their employers were the only ones sympathetic and offering them jobs. The Chinese were denounced and asked to leave.  They were willing to be servants and sweep and scrub. They did not expect to be masters, yet they were hated because of their patience and honesty in their work.