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Topics in Chronicling America - The Chinese Exclusion Act

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” Emma Lazarus wrote on the Statue of Liberty, reflecting the importance of immigration in the United States. Yet in 1882, the Chinese Exclusion Act prohibited the immigration of all Chinese laborers. The Act, only repealed in 1943, was one of the most significant restrictions on free immigration in US history. Read more about it!

The information and sample article links below provide access to a sampling of articles from historic newspapers that can be found in the Chronicling America: American Historic Newspapers digital collection ( Use the Suggested Search Terms and Dates to explore this topic further in Chronicling America.

Picture of a Chinese viceroy

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Important Dates:

  • May 1882. Congress passes the Chinese Exclusion Act and President Chester A. Arthur signs it.
  • April 30, 1882. Chinese immigrants in Canada poised to cross U.S. border when Exclusion Act expires.
  • September 1899. Hawaiian sugar planters “grievously” violate Exclusion law.
  • November 21-23, 1901. Chinese Exclusion Convention “demands” re-enactment of Exclusion Law to protect labor.
  • November 26, 1901. San Francisco Call reports plan to “flood” U.S. with Chinese workers via Mexican border.
  • December 6, 1901. William Jennings Bryan supports Chinese Exclusion law extension.
  • April 16, 1902. Senate passes bill continuing Chinese Exclusion laws, extending Geary Act to 1904.
  • 1905-1907. Widespread debate over effect of Exclusion Act on U.S. economy and possible omission of certain “classes” from the law.
  • March 1909. Philippine Attorney General maintains Exclusion laws not applicable to Philippines

Suggested Search Strategies:

  • [Try the following terms in combination, proximity, or as phrases using Search Pages in Chronicling America.] Chinese Exclusion Act, Chinese exclusion, coolie, Chinese immigration, Geary Act.

Sample Articles from Chronicling America:

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  June 26, 2015
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