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    James G. Blaine + Denis Kearney + Andrew Gyory, Closing the Gate. Race, Politics, and the Chinese Exclusion Act

    Johnathan R. Razorback
    Johnathan R. Razorback
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    James G. Blaine + Denis Kearney + Andrew Gyory, Closing the Gate. Race, Politics, and the Chinese Exclusion Act Empty James G. Blaine + Denis Kearney + Andrew Gyory, Closing the Gate. Race, Politics, and the Chinese Exclusion Act

    Message par Johnathan R. Razorback le Mar 5 Fév - 14:53

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_G._Blaine

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denis_Kearney

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_Exclusion_Act

    https://uncpress.flexpub.com/preview/closing-the-gate

    https://catalogue.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/cb37636876w

    "This book answers a simple question: Why did the United States pass the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882 ? This Gilded Age statute, which barred practically all Chinese from American shores for ten years, was the first federal law ever passed banning a group of immigrants solely on the basis of race or nationality. Congress renewed the law in 1892, 1902, and 1904, each time with increasingly less opposition. Historians have identified three forces behind the Chinese Exclusion Act: pressure from workers, politicians, and others in California, where most Chinese had settled; a racist atmosphere that pervaded the nation in the nineteenth century; and persistent support and lobbying by the national labor movement. As the evidence will show, the first two forces were important but not decisive. The third was nonexistent; contrary to the claims of numerous scholars, most workers evinced little interest in Chinese exclusion. Organized labor nationwide played virtually no role in securing the legislation. The motive force behind the Chinese Exclusion Act was national politicians who seized and manipulated the issue in an effort to gain votes, while arguing that workers had long demanded Chinese exclusion and would benefit from it. As one midwestern congressman declared, “To protect our laboring classes . . . the gate . . . must be closed.”

    In slamming the gate on an entire race of people, the Chinese Exclusion Act reversed not only an American policy but also American tradition, changing forever the nation’s image of itself as a beacon of hope, a refuge for the poor and the oppressed the world over. Much like the Fugitive Slave Act of the antebellum era, the Chinese Exclusion Act proved to be the most tragic, most regrettable, and most racist legislation of its era. But unlike the Fugitive Slave Act, which provoked outrage in parts of the country and ignited a fury that led to civil war, the Chinese Exclusion Act rapidly forged a consensus that led to more far-reaching exclusion of immigrants—Japanese, Koreans, and other Asians in the early 1900s, and Europeans in the 1920s. The Chinese Exclusion Act set the precedent for these broader exclusion laws and fostered an atmosphere of hostility toward foreigners that would endure for generations. It also fostered a bleaker atmosphere of racism, a racism that swiftly led to Jim Crow legislation in the 1880s, Plessy v. Ferguson in the 1890s, and decades of state-sponsored segregation in the 1900s. In legitimizing racism as national policy, the Chinese Exclusion Act set the stage for these developments. “It is the first break in the levee,” one congressman observed in 1882. “I would deem the new country we will have after this bill becomes law as changed from the old country we have to-day as our country would have been changed if the rebellion of 1861 had succeeded.” By separating the old America from the new, exclusion became the American tradition, and the arguments first invoked by Gilded Age politicians in favor of restriction have reverberated in every debate on immigration down to the present day. At the dawn of a new century, the Chinese Exclusion Act still casts a long, dark shadow over American immigration policy
    ."

    " “Ought we to exclude them?” asked Senator James G. Blaine on February 14, 1879. “The question lies in my mind thus: either the Anglo-Saxon race will possess the Pacific slope or the Mongolians will possess it.” Championing the Fifteen Passenger Bill, a measure aimed at limiting Chinese immigration, Blaine declared on the Senate floor: “We have this day to choose . . . whether our legislation shall be in the interest of the American free laborer or for the servile laborer from China. . . . You cannot work a man who must have beef and bread, and would prefer beer, alongside of a man who can live on rice. It cannot be done.”

    With this speech, James Blaine became the nation’s foremost politician to vigorously advocate Chinese exclusion. In a widely reprinted letter to the New York Tribune a week later, he elaborated his position, calling Chinese immigration “vicious,” “odious,” “abominable,” “dangerous,” and “revolting. … If as a nation we have the right to keep out infectious diseases, if we have the right to exclude the criminal classes from coming to us, we surely have the right to exclude that immigration which reeks with impurity and which cannot come to us without plenteously sowing the seeds of moral and physical disease, destitution, and death.” Leaving no doubt as to where he stood, the Maine Republican concluded, “I am opposed to the Chinese coming here; I am opposed to making them citizens; I am opposed to making them voters.”2

    As the most prominent statesman of the Gilded Age, Blaine single-handedly made racist attacks on Chinese immigrants an honorable act. His racist words in 1879 elevated the issue nationally from the streets of San Francisco to the Senate of the United States and made the cries of demagogues respectable. Blaine’s polemic broadened the issue from one affecting only the West, where 97 percent of the nation’s 105,000 Chinese immigrants lived, to one that supposedly affected the entire country, from one that generated political support from all classes on the Pacific Coast to one that might attract a single class nationwide—the working class. “There is not a laboring man from the Penobscot [River in Maine] to the Sacramento [River in California] who would not feel aggrieved, outraged, burdened, crushed, at being forced into competition with the labor and the wages of the Chinese cooly. For one, I would never consent, by my vote or my voice, to drive the intelligent workingmen of America to that competition and that degradation.” But Chinese immigration, Blaine said, involved more than the issue of class. It also affected racial harmony: “I supposed if there was any people in the world that had a race trouble on hand it was ourselves. I supposed if the admonitions of our own history were anything to us we should regard
    Chapter One
    The Very Recklessness of Statesmanship

    Explanations for Chinese Exclusion, 1870S-1990S

    I feel and know that I am pleading the cause of the free American laborer and of his children and of his children’s children.

    — James G. Blaine, February 24, 1879

    “Ought we to exclude them?” asked Senator James G. Blaine on February 14, 1879. “The question lies in my mind thus: either the Anglo-Saxon race will possess the Pacific slope or the Mongolians will possess it.” Championing the Fifteen Passenger Bill, a measure aimed at limiting Chinese immigration, Blaine declared on the Senate floor: “We have this day to choose . . . whether our legislation shall be in the interest of the American free laborer or for the servile laborer from China. . . . You cannot work a man who must have beef and bread, and would prefer beer, alongside of a man who can live on rice. It cannot be done.”1

    With this speech, James Blaine became the nation’s foremost politician to vigorously advocate Chinese exclusion. In a widely reprinted letter to the New York Tribune a week later, he elaborated his position, calling Chinese immigration “vicious,” “odious,” “abominable,” “dangerous,” and “revolting. … If as a nation we have the right to keep out infectious diseases, if we have the right to exclude the criminal classes from coming to us, we surely have the right to exclude that immigration which reeks with impurity and which cannot come to us without plenteously sowing the seeds of moral and physical disease, destitution, and death.” Leaving no doubt as to where he stood, the Maine Republican concluded, “I am opposed to the Chinese coming here; I am opposed to making them citizens; I am opposed to making them voters.”2

    As the most prominent statesman of the Gilded Age, Blaine single-handedly made racist attacks on Chinese immigrants an honorable act. His racist words in 1879 elevated the issue nationally from the streets of San Francisco to the Senate of the United States and made the cries of demagogues respectable. Blaine’s polemic broadened the issue from one affecting only the West, where 97 percent of the nation’s 105,000 Chinese immigrants lived, to one that supposedly affected the entire country, from one that generated political support from all classes on the Pacific Coast to one that might attract a single class nationwide—the working class. “There is not a laboring man from the Penobscot [River in Maine] to the Sacramento [River in California] who would not feel aggrieved, outraged, burdened, crushed, at being forced into competition with the labor and the wages of the Chinese cooly. For one, I would never consent, by my vote or my voice, to drive the intelligent workingmen of America to that competition and that degradation.” But Chinese immigration, Blaine said, involved more than the issue of class. It also affected racial harmony: “I supposed if there was any people in the world that had a race trouble on hand it was ourselves. I supposed if the admonitions of our own history were anything to us we should regard the race trouble as the one thing to be dreaded and the one thing to be avoided. . . . To deliberately sit down and . . . permit another and far more serious trouble seems to be the very recklessness of statesmanship.” As Blaine concluded, “It is a good deal cheaper . . . to avoid the trouble by preventing the immigration.” Chinese exclusion could thus minimize further racial conflict and preclude another civil war. It could also reduce class tensions. Citing the divisive national railroad strike of 1877 when “unemployed thousands . . . manifested a spirit of violence,” Blaine envisioned Chinese exclusion as a palliative measure giving working people what they wanted. “I feel and know that I am pleading the cause of the free American laborer and of his children and of his children’s children.”3

    As the front-runner for his party’s nomination for president in 1880, Blaine aimed his message at two constituencies—the West Coast and workers nationwide. During three days of debate, he was the only Republican senator east of the Rocky Mountains to speak out against Chinese immigration. But he was hardly alone in his party. When the Senate passed the Fifteen Passenger Bill, which would have limited to fifteen the number of Chinese passengers on any ship coming to the United States, 11 Republicans east of the Rockies supported the measure, and in the House of Representatives, 51 Republicans joined 104 Democrats to pass the bill by a comfortable margin. By 1879, congressional support for Chinese immigration restriction was becoming broad and bipartisan. But for a presidential veto it would have become law.4

    Three years later, in 1882, Congress debated the Chinese Exclusion Act, a measure far more extreme than the Fifteen Passenger Bill of 1879. Although Blaine had lost the Republican nomination to James A. Garfield in 1880, his racial and class arguments against Chinese immigration carried the day. Republican after Republican denounced the Chinese with a firmness and venom once the preserve of westerners. “Alien in manners, servile in labor, pagan in religion, they are fundamentally un-American,” thundered Representative Addison McClure (R-Ohio). “There is no common ground of assimilation,” Senator George F. Edmunds (R-Vt.) asserted, to which Senator John Sherman (R-Ohio) added, the Chinese “are not a desirable population. . . . They are not good citizens.” Invoking visceral racist images, eastern and midwestern Republicans echoed former senator Blaine. Representative George Hazelton (R-Wisc.) called the Chinese immigrant a “loathsome . . . revolting . . . monstrosity . . . [who] lives in herds and sleeps like packs of dogs in kennels.” Other congressmen likened the Chinese to rats and swarming insects whose “withering and blighting effect,” in the words of Representative Benjamin Butterworth (R-Ohio), “leave in their trail a moral desert.” They “spread mildew and rot throughout the entire community,” concluded Representative William Calkins (R-Ind.). Permit them to enter and “you plant a cancer in your own country that will eat out its life and destroy it.”5

    Although condemning the Chinese on racial, cultural, and religious grounds, congressmen across the country emphasized that they favored Chinese exclusion because they favored the working person. “My chief reason for supporting such a measure,” said Representative Edwin Willits (R-Mich.), “is, that I believe it is in the interest of American labor.” Likewise, Representative Stanton Peelle (R-Ind.) backed the law “upon the ground of protection to American labor as distinguished from protection to American society.” As Edward K. Valentine (R-Nebr.) argued, “It is our opportunity to do justice to the American laborer, and injustice to no one.” Senator Henry M. Teller
    Chapter One
    The Very Recklessness of Statesmanship

    Explanations for Chinese Exclusion, 1870S-1990S

    I feel and know that I am pleading the cause of the free American laborer and of his children and of his children’s children.

    — James G. Blaine, February 24, 1879

    “Ought we to exclude them?” asked Senator James G. Blaine on February 14, 1879. “The question lies in my mind thus: either the Anglo-Saxon race will possess the Pacific slope or the Mongolians will possess it.” Championing the Fifteen Passenger Bill, a measure aimed at limiting Chinese immigration, Blaine declared on the Senate floor: “We have this day to choose . . . whether our legislation shall be in the interest of the American free laborer or for the servile laborer from China. . . . You cannot work a man who must have beef and bread, and would prefer beer, alongside of a man who can live on rice. It cannot be done.”1

    With this speech, James Blaine became the nation’s foremost politician to vigorously advocate Chinese exclusion. In a widely reprinted letter to the New York Tribune a week later, he elaborated his position, calling Chinese immigration “vicious,” “odious,” “abominable,” “dangerous,” and “revolting. … If as a nation we have the right to keep out infectious diseases, if we have the right to exclude the criminal classes from coming to us, we surely have the right to exclude that immigration which reeks with impurity and which cannot come to us without plenteously sowing the seeds of moral and physical disease, destitution, and death.” Leaving no doubt as to where he stood, the Maine Republican concluded, “I am opposed to the Chinese coming here; I am opposed to making them citizens; I am opposed to making them voters.”2

    As the most prominent statesman of the Gilded Age, Blaine single-handedly made racist attacks on Chinese immigrants an honorable act. His racist words in 1879 elevated the issue nationally from the streets of San Francisco to the Senate of the United States and made the cries of demagogues respectable. Blaine’s polemic broadened the issue from one affecting only the West, where 97 percent of the nation’s 105,000 Chinese immigrants lived, to one that supposedly affected the entire country, from one that generated political support from all classes on the Pacific Coast to one that might attract a single class nationwide—the working class. “There is not a laboring man from the Penobscot [River in Maine] to the Sacramento [River in California] who would not feel aggrieved, outraged, burdened, crushed, at being forced into competition with the labor and the wages of the Chinese cooly. For one, I would never consent, by my vote or my voice, to drive the intelligent workingmen of America to that competition and that degradation.” But Chinese immigration, Blaine said, involved more than the issue of class. It also affected racial harmony: “I supposed if there was any people in the world that had a race trouble on hand it was ourselves. I supposed if the admonitions of our own history were anything to us we should regard the race trouble as the one thing to be dreaded and the one thing to be avoided. . . . To deliberately sit down and . . . permit another and far more serious trouble seems to be the very recklessness of statesmanship.” As Blaine concluded, “It is a good deal cheaper . . . to avoid the trouble by preventing the immigration.” Chinese exclusion could thus minimize further racial conflict and preclude another civil war. It could also reduce class tensions. Citing the divisive national railroad strike of 1877 when “unemployed thousands . . . manifested a spirit of violence,” Blaine envisioned Chinese exclusion as a palliative measure giving working people what they wanted. “I feel and know that I am pleading the cause of the free American laborer and of his children and of his children’s children.”3

    As the front-runner for his party’s nomination for president in 1880, Blaine aimed his message at two constituencies—the West Coast and workers nationwide. During three days of debate, he was the only Republican senator east of the Rocky Mountains to speak out against Chinese immigration. But he was hardly alone in his party. When the Senate passed the Fifteen Passenger Bill, which would have limited to fifteen the number of Chinese passengers on any ship coming to the United States, 11 Republicans east of the Rockies supported the measure, and in the House of Representatives, 51 Republicans joined 104 Democrats to pass the bill by a comfortable margin. By 1879, congressional support for Chinese immigration restriction was becoming broad and bipartisan. But for a presidential veto it would have become law.4

    Three years later, in 1882, Congress debated the Chinese Exclusion Act, a measure far more extreme than the Fifteen Passenger Bill of 1879. Although Blaine had lost the Republican nomination to James A. Garfield in 1880, his racial and class arguments against Chinese immigration carried the day. Republican after Republican denounced the Chinese with a firmness and venom once the preserve of westerners. “Alien in manners, servile in labor, pagan in religion, they are fundamentally un-American,” thundered Representative Addison McClure (R-Ohio). “There is no common ground of assimilation,” Senator George F. Edmunds (R-Vt.) asserted, to which Senator John Sherman (R-Ohio) added, the Chinese “are not a desirable population. . . . They are not good citizens.” Invoking visceral racist images, eastern and midwestern Republicans echoed former senator Blaine. Representative George Hazelton (R-Wisc.) called the Chinese immigrant a “loathsome . . . revolting . . . monstrosity . . . [who] lives in herds and sleeps like packs of dogs in kennels.” Other congressmen likened the Chinese to rats and swarming insects whose “withering and blighting effect,” in the words of Representative Benjamin Butterworth (R-Ohio), “leave in their trail a moral desert.” They “spread mildew and rot throughout the entire community,” concluded Representative William Calkins (R-Ind.). Permit them to enter and “you plant a cancer in your own country that will eat out its life and destroy it.”5

    Although condemning the Chinese on racial, cultural, and religious grounds, congressmen across the country emphasized that they favored Chinese exclusion because they favored the working person. “My chief reason for supporting such a measure,” said Representative Edwin Willits (R-Mich.), “is, that I believe it is in the interest of American labor.” Likewise, Representative Stanton Peelle (R-Ind.) backed the law “upon the ground of protection to American labor as distinguished from protection to American society.” As Edward K. Valentine (R-Nebr.) argued, “It is our opportunity to do justice to the American laborer, and injustice to no one.” Senator Henry M. Teller (R-Colo.) was blunter: “I see no other way to protect American labor in this country.” Lest anyone doubt that workers demanded the law, Representative John Sherwin (R-IU.) declared that Chinese exclusion “is a question which comes home after all to the men and women who labor with their hands, more than to anyone else. And I think we can trust them in determining it better than we can trust anyone else.”

    Senator Blaine’s endorsement of the Fifteen Passenger Bill in 1879 had given anti-Chinese racism legitimacy, and within three years a strong bipartisan consensus emerged to outlaw Chinese immigration. Scurrying to take credit for the Chinese Exclusion Act, politicians echoed Blaine in claiming to have passed the measure in response to workers’ needs and long-stated demands. Although congressional opposition to Chinese immigration had actually begun forming in the mid-1870S, its swiftness amazed many observers. “If such a bill had been proposed in either House of Congress twenty years ago,” Senator Sherman noted in 1882, “it would have been the death warrant of the man who offered it.” Indeed, when Congress first debated Chinese citizenship in 1870, virtually no one suggested tampering with the nation’s century-old policy of open immigration. During the next twelve years, however, Chinese exclusion would become an article of faith in both parties that would dictate political platforms and shape presidential campaigns.

    The creation of Chinese immigration as a national issue and the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act on May 6, 1882, mark a turning point in American history. It was the first immigration law ever passed by the United States barring one specific group of people because of their race or nationality. By changing America’s traditional policy of open immigration, this landmark legislation set a precedent for future restrictions against Asian immigrants in the late nineteenth The California thesis, advanced by Mary Roberts Coolidge in 1909, posits California and its working people as the key agents of Chinese exclusion. The Chinese first emigrated to America in large numbers in 1849, when, like thousands of people the world over, they joined the gold rush and raced to California. By 1852, about twenty-five thousand Chinese had arrived in Gam Saan, or Gold Mountain, as they called California, some staking claims in the mines, others working as cooks, launderers, and laborers. During the first three years, Coolidge argued, white Californians welcomed the Chinese. Called “one of the most worthy [classes] of our newly adopted citizens” by the state’s second governor, the Chinese took part in services commemorating President Zachary Taylor’s death in 1850 and marched in the parade celebrating California’s admission to the union later that year. “The China Boys will yet vote at the same polls, study at the same schools, and bow at the same altar as our own countrymen,” the San Francisco Alta California predicted in 1852. Yet long before this newspaper rolled off the press, racial hostilities had erupted in the mining camps when whites tried to drive all “foreigners”—Mexican, South American, and Chinese—from the region. Some Chinese immigrants had signed contracts in their native land to work for a set period of time at substandard wages. Miners and other Californians targeted them for abuse, and politicians exploited the situation for their own benefit. Several officials, such as Governor John Bigler and State Senator Philip Roach, denounced the Chinese and urged restrictions on their entry as early as 1852. Which came first—the anti-Chinese sentiment in the mining camps or the anti-Chinese rhetoric in the state capital—Coolidge did not say, but each fed on the other, and with miners a key voting bloc in the new state, politicians eagerly courted their support. In the course of the decade, the California legislature passed numerous discriminatory laws against the Chinese, culminating with an 1858 exclusion act. Most of these laws and others passed subsequently were declared unconstitutional by state or federal courts.8

    Despite bigotry and violence directed at them by whites, Chinese immigrants kept coming to Gam Saan, their numbers augmented when the Central Pacific Railroad Company imported thousands of workers directly from China in the 1860s to build the western portion of the transcontinental railroad. “They are very trusty, they are very intelligent, and they live up to their contracts,” railroad president Charles Crocker observed, praising their “reliability and steadiness, and their aptitude and capacity for hard work.” By 1870, the census counted 49,310 Chinese in California, making up 8.5 percent of the state’s population. In San Francisco, the state’s largest city, they composed one-fourth of the population; because most Chinese immigrants were single men, they were a third of the workforce. With the decline of mining, the Chinese entered a variety of occupations, including agriculture, manufacturing, and construction, often accepting wages below those of white workers. Combined with racism—the Chinese looked different, practiced a different religion, and seemed reluctant to “assimilate” into American society—this economic competition, Coolidge argued, led white workers to oppose the Chinese, and abetted by politicians, a revived labor movement in San Francisco after the Civil War mobilized against them. Because the courts had ruled that only Congress possessed the power to restrict immigration, western politicians turned to Washington, where as early as 1867 they began introducing bills aimed at limiting Chinese immigration.

    In 1876, Democrats and Republicans locked horns in the most competitive presidential election since the Civil War and believed that the electoral votes of the West Coast could make the difference. Both parties embraced the Chinese issue and pushed for immigration restriction. Labor militancy in San Francisco kept the issue in the forefront in the late 1870s, Coolidge maintained, and the same dynamic recurred nationally in the election of 1880. By advocating anti-Chinese legislation to attract votes, national politicians pursued the identical strategy local politicians had used in California in the 1850s and 1860s. “The struggle on the part of both parties . . . to carry California became fiercer and fiercer,” Coolidge wrote, “and gave her demands for legislation a prominence in the national legislature out of all proportion to their normal value.” Coolidge blamed workers, and particularly Irish immigrants, for fanning the flames of racial hatred. “The clamor of an alien class in a single State—taken up by politicians for their own ends—was sufficient to change the policy of a nation and to commit the United States to a race discrimination at variance with our professed theories of government.”

    Although marred by class prejudice, numerous inaccuracies, and a polemical tone, Coolidge’s presentation of the California thesis has remained the dominant explanation for Chinese exclusion.
    -Andrew Gyory, Closing the Gate. Race, Politics, and the Chinese Exclusion Act, University of North California Press, 1998, 368 pages.



    _________________
    « La racine de toute doctrine erronée se trouve dans une erreur philosophique. [...] Le rôle des penseurs vrais, mais aussi une tâche de tout homme libre, est de comprendre les possibles conséquences de chaque principe ou idée, de chaque décision avant qu'elle se change en action, afin d'exclure aussi bien ses conséquences nuisibles que la possibilité de tromperie. » -Jacob Sher, Avertissement contre le socialisme, Introduction à « Tableaux de l'avenir social-démocrate » d'Eugen Richter, avril 1998.

    "La vraie volupté est remportée comme une victoire sur la tristesse [...] Il n’y a pas de grands voluptueux sans une certaine mélancolie, pas de mélancoliques qui ne soient des voluptueux trahis." -Albert Thibaudet, La vie de Maurice Barrès, in Trente ans de vie française, volume 2, Éditions de la Nouvelle Revue Française, 1919, 312 pages, p.40.

    Johnathan R. Razorback
    Johnathan R. Razorback
    Admin

    Messages : 5624
    Date d'inscription : 12/08/2013
    Localisation : France

    James G. Blaine + Denis Kearney + Andrew Gyory, Closing the Gate. Race, Politics, and the Chinese Exclusion Act Empty Re: James G. Blaine + Denis Kearney + Andrew Gyory, Closing the Gate. Race, Politics, and the Chinese Exclusion Act

    Message par Johnathan R. Razorback le Jeu 21 Mar - 12:36

    « China is « a disgustful…booby nation », its civilization « a besotted perversity », its people distinguished by « their cheerless… stupidy ». So wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson in 1824. A generation later, Horace Greeley, editor of the influential New York Tribune, called Chinese immigrants “uncivilized, unclean and filthy beyong all conception, without any of the highter domestic or social relations… Pagan in religion, they know not the virtues of honesty, integrity or good faith”. In voicing these sentiments, Emerson and Greeley were largely in the mainstream of American intellectual opinion in the nineteenth century. As the globe-trotting journalist Bayard Taylor wrote in 1855, in one of the most frequently quoted passages of the era: “The Chinese are, morally, the most debased people on the face of the earth… [with a] depravity so shocking and horrible, that their character cannot even be hinted… Their touch is pollution”. On the eve of the Civil War, Samuel Goodrich, the nation’s most popular author of juvenile literature, taught children that “men [from China] are servile, deceitful and utterly regarless of the truth. From the emperor to the beggar through every rank of society… there is a system of cheating, and hypocrisy, practiced without remorse… No faith whatever, can in general, be reposed in the Chinese”. Caleb Cushing, first U.S. commissioner to China and negotiator of the first treaty between the two nations, stated in 1859, “I do not admit as my equal… the yellow man of Asia”.
    To many Americans in the nineteenth century, perceived physical differences reinforced cultural differences. Newspapers called Chinese immigrants “almond-eyes, spindle-leggeg”, “yellow-skinned”, “pig-tailed”, and “baldpated”. Political affiliation mattered little. The Democratic New York Star described the Chinese immigrant as “filthy, unnatural, and abominable”, while the Republican Cincinnati Gazette labeled him a “dependend, ignorant… animal machine”. Nicknamed “John Chinaman” or simply “John”, these common epithets, like “Sambo” for black men and “Bridget” for Irish women, stereotyped male Chinese immigrants as an anonymous, undifferentiated mass. Ediors and journalists portrayed them as childlike, feminine, and submissive, and metaphors frequently linked them to insects and vermin, which the Chinese allegedly consumed. Hinton Rowan Rowan Helper called them “counterfeit human beings”. Religious differences compounded the racism. The New York Times noted their “heathenish souls and heathenish propensities”, while the New York Herald, the most widely newspaper in the country, claimed that the “Chinese people remain as barbarous as ever. Their pagan savageness appears to be impregnable to the mild influences of Christian civilization.” […]
    Even Wendell Phillips, the former abolitionist who would defend unrestricted Chinese immigration to his dying day, called the Chinese “barbarous”, of an “alien blood”, and capable of “dragging down the American home to the level of the houseless street herds of China”. And liberal-thinking John Stuart Mill worried that Chinese immigration could result in “a permanent harm” to the “more civilized and improved portion of mankink”. […]
    How did Americans react to these racist portrayals, and how did this racism get translated into public policy ?” (p.17-18)
    “The eight-year period from the surrender of the Confederacy in 1865 to the onset of the depression in 1873 was a vibrant era in American working-class history. David Montgomery contends that several hundred thousand wage earners joined unions, marking the highest proportion of organized industrial workers in any period of the century. The chief issue uniting the labor movement during Reconstruction was the eight-hour-workday. Several states passed laws mandating an eight-hour workday for federal employees. This legislation was seldom enforced, however, and the eight-hour day would remain the lighting rod for working-class protest for the next two generations. A cadre of other issues galvanized workers in the early Reconstruction era: arbitration to settle strikes, an end to convict labor, and government inspection of factories and mines. Another major working-class grievance was the importation of contract labor –workers hired in a foreign country and brought to work in the United States.” (p.19)
    “After Lee surrendered at Appomattox in April 1865, the two armies demobilized, and the national labor shortage rapidly disappeared. With hands plentiful, employers began importing immigrants primarily to break strikes rather than to supplement their workforces. During the first peacetime summer, the Eagle Iron Works in Chicago engaged the American Emigrant Company to procure Belgians to break a strike. […] In June 1866, iron manufacturers in Pittsburgh warned striking workers that eight hundred puddlers were on their way from England. The contract labor law of 1884 gave tacit support to such schemes, and government officials gave support openly: in 1866, the U.S. commissioner of immigration declared importation a potent weapon employers should use to combat the “continued success of strikes by wormen of almost all kinds”. […]
    As early as 1864, labor leaders cautioned against denouncing the imported rather than the importers. “These [imported] men should not be spurned and treated as enemies”, William H. Sylvis wrote.” (p.21)
    “On August 20, 1866, sixty-fiv delegates from unions, trades assemblies, and worker’s organizations gathered in Baltimore to found the National Labor Union (NLU). Conceived largely by Sylvis and editor Johnathan Fincher, the NLU represented the first major attempt to form a nationwide, working-class federation. Delegates discussed numerous issues and appointed a committee to visit President Andrew Johnson and present him with a list of grievances. Among those grievances was imported contract labor. Since manufacturers were protected by a tariff on imported goods, the committee told the president, workers deserved a law to protect them from imported laborers. “We desire protection”, the committee leader said, “against foreign pauper labor imported against our interests, to reduce the price of labor”.” (p.23)
    “Adamant opposition to foreign contract labor would unify organized labor for years –and this opposition would consistently inform worker’s attitudes toward the Chinese. As the dabetes at the next NLU convention demonstrated, such opposition focused on the nature of immigration, not on its nationality.” (p.25)
    “Anti-Chinese hostility became a central factor uniting the labor movement in California in 1867. Among workers nationwide, however, it played no role whatsoever.” (p.26)
    “While visiting the nation’s capital, Burlingame and the Chinese met with President Johnson, his cabinet, and leading members of Congress. The press reported the encounters favorably and treated the Chinese with dignity and respect. Amid this atmosphere of friendship and goodwill, Burlingame negociated a new te=reaty between the two nations. Guided by Secretary of State Seward, Burlingame compossed an accord raising China to full diplomatic status and “an equal among the nations”. Seward and Burlingame expected the treaty to open the Celestial Empire to increased American commerce and give the United States an upper hand over European nations. One clause in the treaty granted Chinese individuals the same right as people of other nations to emigrate freely to the United States. […]
    On July 24, 1868, the Senate unanimously ratified the new treaty.” (p.26-27)
    « The Chicago-based Workingman’s Advocate sounded the tocsin on February 6, 1869. […]
    Workingman’s Advocate editor Andrew C. Cameron launched his campaign for Chinese exclusion. Prodding him was the imminent completion of the transcontinental railroad, which posed a dual threat: thousands of Chinese railroad laborers would soon be thrown out of work, and coast-to-coast travel would become fast and cheap. Without immediate action, Cameron feared, low-paid Chinese workers would flood the nation.” (p.29)
    “Since the Civil War, white planters had faced difficulties disciplining and maintaining a stable black workforce because former slaves demanded higher wages and greater say in setting labor conditions. The answer to the South’s problems, the Chamber of Commerce believed, lay thousands of miles away across the Pacific. Rather than negociate with blacks, better to bring in “the reliable, industrious and patient Chinaman” to intimidate them.” (p.30)
    “On an early day in 1876, Philip Augustine Roach entered the stately residence of Samuel J. Tilden near Gramercy Park in Manhattan. Roach had long serve as a California state senator and editor of the San Francisco Examiner. Tilden, the governor of New York, was on the verge of being nominated for president at the Democratic National Convention less than a weel away. After a private conversation they were joined by Democatic leader Manton Marble, editor of the New York World. Roach’s message was simple and direct: he wanted Tilden and the Democratic Party to adopt the issue of Chinese exclusion for the presidential campaign. “Treat this question well”, Roach advised Marble, “and Mr. Tilden can get, as he desires, the Pacific Delegation”. Chinese exclusion, Roach explained, was an ideal campaign issue: “Property treated [it] will rally the workingman to our support where the Mongolians have secured a lodgment”. Tilden accepted the advice ; Marble then drafted an anti-Chinese rsolution that would shortly appear in the party’s platform. “And thus commenced in Mr. Tilden’s own studio”, Roach later noted, “the action which made opposition to Coolienism a national Democratic issue”.
    This meeting, and the year 1876 itself, marked a turning point in the anti-Chinese movement. After years as a local issue in the West that had drawn only sporadic interest in the East, politicians attempted to portray Chinese immigration as a natonal emergency. […] Republicans had actually taken the initiative, but Democats quickly caught up and pushed the issue more vigorously. Both party wrote anti-Chinese planks into their national platforms in 1876.” (p.76-77)
    “In March, the California State Republican Committee demanded modification of the Burlingame Treaty of 1868 to permit the restriction of Chinese immigration. […] On April 5, 1876, some twenty-five thousand people –the largest gathering the Pacific Coast had ever seen- assembled in San Francisco to hear the state’s leading citizens viciously denounce the Chinese and sign a petition to be delivered to Congress. The governor, lieutenant governant, and a former governor, as well as numerous other officials and businesspeople, including State Senator Philip Roach, all called for an end to Chinese immigration.” (p.78)
    “The State Senate […] resolved that the report be sent to all the “leading newspapers of the United States”, as well as five each to every member of Congress.” (p.78)
    “The Chinese in San Franscico opposed these actions vigorously. In a memorial sent to President Grant shortly after the April rallies, seven Chinese community leaders argued: “The Anti-Chinese Crusade, started by sectarian fanaticism, encouraged by personal prejudice and ambition for political capital, has already culminated in personal attack, abuse, and incendiarism against the inoffensive Chinese”. […] One defender added: “It will be a sad day, indeed, for this great Republic when it shall prescribe personal qualities of this kind as conditions to immigration. America will again become a wild then, and her great boast as “The Land of the Free” will be no more”.” (p.79)
    “In Dangling the bait of electoral votes, California hoped to lure politicians thousands of miles away to its cause.” (p.79)
    “The extremes within the labor press –between, for example, the Workingman’s Map and the Socialist- coupled with the equivocal attitudes expressed by labor leaders, illustrate that when it came to Chinese immigration, organized labor was neither much ahead nor much behind the rest of society. Even during the peak period of western agitation, most workers paid the issue no heed. An exhaustive search of labor meeting throughout the East and Midwest from March to June reveals that the issue seldom surfaced, and for the remainder of the presidential campaign it completely disappeared from organized labor’s agenda.” (p.89)
    “The explosion of class conflict in 1877 would provide politicians with the volatile climate necessary to transform Chinese immigration from a regional concern into a sustained national issue.” (p.91)
    “With 1877 an off year for elections, politicians had little interest in raising the issue.
    Nor did workers. With the United States entrenched in its fourth year of depression, their suffering and frustration –and inflammatory rhetoric- mounted throughout the winter. In Scranton, Pennsylvania, hundry workers marched through a snowstorm, demanding “bread or blood” “relief or riot”. The New York Herald quoted an unemployed labor saying that a workers’ revolution was a distinct possibility, and the New York Labor Standard observed that “in every State of the Union men are out of employement by thousands. The poorhouses and prisons are full to overflowing ; … an army of tramps, homeless and deseperate, wander back and forth through all the land, while our cities swarn with the destitute and starving”. Such widespread misery prompted Henry Goerge to write Progress and Poverty, the masterpiece that posed the nation’s fundamental economic question of the late nineteenth century: How in a land of such wealth could so much poverty exist ? George’s 1879 treatise proposed a new taxation policy on urban land as the solution, but such a remedy offered little throughout the depression: in Pennsylvania in 1874, in Indiana in 1875, and in New York in May 1877. Nothing, however, prepared the country for the labor uprising that broke out in the summer of 1877 when railroad workers sparked the first nationwide general strike in American history. It began in Martinsburg, West Virginia, on July 16 when workers blocked a train from passing through town until the company rescinded a wage cut. The company refused, and the governor sent the militia to disperse the striking workers. Backed by the community, however, the strikers resisted and scattered the soldiers. This momentary victory ignited similar revolts in Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Chicago, and smaller towns across the country. Workers everywhere walkef off the job, and in some cities business practically stopped. As the strike spread through the Midwest and into the South, governors called out state militia, and when local soldiers could not quell the uprising, President Hayes sent in federal troops. From Boston to St. Louis, from Newark to Baltimore,workers in city after city gathered by the thousands to support the strikers and denounce government repression. Never before had the United States witnessed such an outpouring of revolutionary rhetoric and proletarian protest, as laborers demanded jobs, justice, and bread. “We are”, Albert Parsons told a deseperate crowd of twenty thousand in Chicago, “the grand army of starvation”.
    Fears of revolution and anarchy dominated headlines for the rest of the month. “The Reign of Mob Law”, trumpeted the New York on July 25. “Thieves and Ruffians Still Leading the Strikes” “Pittsburgh Sacked”, the New York World noted, “in the hands of men dominated by the devilish spirit of Communism”. The New York Herald urged soldiers to shoot into the crowd.” (p.94-95)
    “The preindustrial world of artisans and journeymen had practically vanished, making way for a new world of massive corporate enterprise, heavily capitulated industry, and endless confrontations between labor and capital.
    An indirect result of the labor uprising of 1877 was the Chinese Exclusion Act. Although workers would continue to express only minimal interest in immigration restriction, other groups would begin to see it as a solution for the nation’s industrial problems. Class tensions remained high for the next twelve months as politicians, editors, and clergy voiced fears of an armed proletariat poised for revolution. This atmosphere of violence and uncertainty breathed new life into the anti-Chinese movement among those seeking to elimitate or defuse class tensions.
    The major reforms sought by organized labor during the 1870s all shared one common feature: the need for government intervention. Whether public works programs, nationalization of railroads, a federal bureau of labor statistics, or the abolition of imported contract labor, each predicated a large, active state of implementation. The Civil War had witnessed the peak of government intervention in national and local affairs. In issuing greenbacks, drafting soldiers, liberating slaves, and pursuing reconstruction, the federal government had assumed unprecedented powers. The rise of an active state, however, frightened many Americans, who recoiled at the prospect of an all-powerful government. What might such a government do if controlled by the “communistic”, working-class “rabble” ? Workers, after all, composed a large percentage of the nation’s voters. Fear of an active state contributed to the collapse of Reconstruction and underlay much of the Liberal Republican bolt of the early 1870’s. But if Republicans (and Democrats) could begin preaching a small-government, laissez-faire philosophy, they still could not ignore the classe divisions renting society. Something had to be done to mollify workers. From this credible of political stagnation and labor violence, Chinese exclusion emerged as a savior to leaders in Washington. After 1877, politicians would increasingly appropriate the issue of Chinese exclusion and couch it in the language of a class imperative. […] Although immigration restriction offered scant relief and appealed to few wage earners, politicians seized it, amid the clamor for government retrenchment, as an easy solution with which they could pose as defenders of working people everywhere.” (p.95-96)
    “In August [1877], San Francisco workers and sympathizers began meeting on a large open space near City Hall called the “sandlots”. Amid the glow of bonfires and torches, sandlot speakers rabidly denounced corporation, monopolies, and the Chinese. In September and October, the group organized itself into the Workingmen’s Party of California and elected Denis Kearney president. The sandlot’s most fiery orator, Kearney rallied supporters with the cry “The Chinese Must Go” and threatened violence to achieve this end. Kearney’s appeal proved magnetic, and egged on by the press, sandlot audiences grew rapidly, embracing all segment of society. […] The Workingmen’s Party soon became an important factor in California politics.” (p.96-97)
    “Edwin R. Meade, the former New York representative who had written a minority report for the congressional investigation of Chinese immigration, delivered a paper at the annual meeting of the American Social Science Association in Saratoga, New York. This twelve-year-old organization of middle-class humanitarians, patrician reformers, and Republican intellectuals gathered regularly to discuss current events and social problems and to suggest amelioratives actions. Meade’s topic at the September 1877 gathering was Chinese immigration. Attacking the Chinese on moral, economic, and racial grounds, the former congressman recommended total exclusion.” (p.101)
    “In January 1878, the conservative North American Review, the nation’s oldest magazine, published an article hysterically denouncing the Chinese.” (p.102)
    “Kearney inveighed listeners to hang government officials, burn the mansions of the rich, and “cut the capitalist to pieces”.” (p.102-103)
    “Denis Kearney left California on July 21, 1878. A Self-proclaimed working-class leader and the nation’s foremost anti-Chinese agitator, Kearney embarked for the East with three goals: to convince workers to form a workingmen’s party, to campaign for Benjamin F. Butler, and to publicize the “dangers” of Chinese immigration. No visit by a West Coast citizen had ever received more publicity or aroused more excitement.” (p.109)
    “[Kearney] showed that a forceful speaker could stir a crowd to its feet in the East by mouthing virulent, racist, anti-Chinese epithets. No matter that the crowd embraced many classes and segments of society. No matter that people came to laugh and to shout. No matter that numerous workers and labor leaders had renounced Kearney and his anti-Chinese message. To people trying to gauge public opinion, the spontaneous agitation of the “rabble” carried more weight than all the scattered voices from the working-classe community that rose up in protest. The divergence between public opinion and perceptions of public opinion would have tragic consequences in the years to come. It would lead both to the exclusion of an entire race of people from the United States and to the pillorying and blaming of one class of society as the culprit for this exclusion, a class that in reality expressed a quite different view of the issue.” (p.134)
    “In December [1878], as Kearney returned to the sandlots in San Francisco, Senator Blaine attended a dinner party in Washington with southern Democrats and northern Republicans. […] Blaine’s langage was not as vulgar as Kearney’s, but il would be soon. His conversion would prove one of the major factors in the exclusion of Chinese immigrants from the United States.” (p.135)
    “Ever since he narrowly lost the Republican nomination in 1876, James Blaine had been carefully plotting his course for the White House. For hour years the charismatic senator from Maine lined up votes and positioned himself for the 1880 campaign. Spearheading the Fifteen Passenger Bill in February 1879 formed a key part of his grand strategy and made his stance toward Chinese immigration better known than that of any other American, save Kearney. Republican victories in the California congressional elections, the following September seemed a good omen, and his party rallied behind him in the West. “Blaine is the man… nearest the hearts of the people on the Pacific coast”, proclaimed Nevada governor Johnathan Kinkead on the eve of the Republican National Convention in 1880. “His record on the Chinese question has given him a place in the affection of our people that can not be filled by any other republican in the nation”.” (p.185)
    “The election of 1880 is remembered chiefly for two reasons: it introduced the issue of the tariff, which would dominate presidential campaigns for the rest of the Gilded Afge, and it marked the emergence of a pro-Democratic “solid South”, which would shape national political strategy for the next century. Less well known is the role played by Chinese immigration. As the campaign unfolded, party leaders lifted racial politics to new heights. Because Republicans and Democrats considered the volatile Pacific Coast vote essential for victory, both parties made anti-Chinese bigotry central to their western strategy, much as they had in 1876. […] The same racial politics that lured western voters might also lure easterners, and in the campaign’s final days, party leaders catapulted Chinese immigration to the top of the national agenda, effectively reducing the contest to which party could “out-Chinese” the other.” (p.187)
    “After fort-eight days of talks […] the American and Chinese commissioners signed a treaty on November 17, 1880. […]
    The Chinese had conceded virtually everything the United States demanded, mainly because of their overriding desire for American friendship. Throughout the year China had feared an attack from Russia, and during negociations, Swift noted, “The Chinese waters were filled with Russian warships [and] Muscovite troops were massed on the borders”. China also dreaded war with Japan and wanted American intervention to force its Asian neighbor out of the Ryukyu Islands. Unprepared for armed conflicts and unable to rely on protection from England, the Chinese hoped to curry American favor. Their need for support outweighed their distate for the insulting terms of the treaty.” (p.215-216)
    “Had politicians been listening, the Republican and Democratic platforms, as well as the Angell Treaty, would have dealt with importation and contract labor, not immigration restriction. […] Working people had little direct impact on national legislation in this period and almost none at all on the Chinese exclusion debate.” (p.222)
    “Immigration restriction was now up to Congress, where Republicans held a slight advantage: three seats in the Senate and twelve in the House. […] On the session’s first day, Senator John F. Miller (R.Calif) introduced a bill to exclude Chinese immigrants […] Debate commenced on February 28, 1882.” (p.223)
    “George Frisbie Hoar spoke against the bill. A lifelong opponent of slavery and a protégé of Charles Sumner, Hoar had represented Massachusetts since 1869, first in the House and then in the Senate. Now fifty-five, Hoar had always considered himself as a friend of labor. He had long supported eight-hours legislation and a national bureau of labor statistics. He defended the right of workers to organize and strike, and as a House member in 1871, he had praised the International Workingmen’s Association and the Paris Communards. Yet Hoar was very much the patrician. Born in Concord and descended from the Puritans, he had impeccable family credentials: His grandfather had helped draft the Constitution ; his father had helped found the Free-Soil Party in Massachusetts ; and his brother, coiner of the phrase “Conscience Whig” had served as attorney general under Grant. His first cousin was William Evarts. Hoar was less a party functionary than a genuine statesman. More than any other senator of his generation, Hoar remained devoted to the ideals of civil rights and racial equality, and his unswerwing opposition to the Chinese Exclusion Acte reflected his deepest convictions.
    Hoar began his speech by invoking the American Revolution, the nation’s heritage of “natural rights”, and “the great doctrine of human equality affirmed in our Declaration of Independence”. Such rights and doctrines, he said, should be secure, “beyond the reach of any government”. Hoar compared the Chinese Exclusion Act to the iniquitious Alian laws of 1798. He likened the persecution of the Chinese to the persecution of Blacks, American Indians, Jews, and the Irish. […] Praising differents groups and races, Hoar lauded the Chinese for their various accomplishments, such as inventing gun powder, the compass, and the printing press. On one point only did he agree with Miller: the real issue was indeed race. The underlying motive for the bill was “old race prejudice” – “the last of human delusions to be overcome”. Such prejudice, he said, “had left its hideous and ineradicable stains in our history in crimes commited by every generation”. The Chinese Exclusion Act would be but another crime committed against a race and against the Declaration of Independence. “We go boasting of our democracy, and our superiority, and our strength”, he said. “The flag bears the stars of hopes to all nations. A hundred thousands Chinese land in California and everything is changed… The self-evident truth becomes a self-evident lie”.”
    (p.225)
    “On March 23 [1882], the House of Representatives approved the Chinese Exlusion Act, 167 to 66 (with 59 not voting). Republicans contributed almost all the negative votes, but as a party split evenly, 60 to 62 (with 25 not voting). Only four Democrats joined the opposition.” (p.238)
    “In rejecting the bill, [President Chester Alan] Arthur stressed that his main criticism was lengh of exclusion, not exclusion itself.” (p.244)
    “The labor press expressed little delight when the bill passed, nor did it express great indignation when Arthur rejected it.” (p.246)
    “One other influential group opposed the Chinese Exclusion Act: the merchant community of the Northeast connected with the China Trade. Fearing the bill would endanger business, several commercial firms in Boston petitioned Congress to reject the legislation. So did merchants connected with the New York Cito Board of Trade as well as leading bankers, iron manufacturers, and insurance executives. The Union League Club of New York also drafted a petition signed by its president, former secretary of state William Evarts. The petition claimed that the bill’s twenty-year clause and passport requirement violated the Angell Treaty and if enacted would harm trade and “impair the friendly relations” between the two nations.” (p.249)
    “Congress reconsidered the legislation on April 17. Veteran anti-Chinese crusader Horace F. Page (R.-Calif.) introduced a revised version, which reduced the lenth of exclusion from twenty year to ten.” (p.250)
    “Which slight alterations, the Senate passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, 32 to 15 (with 29 not voting), on April 28.” (p.253)
    “For the next hundred years Americans would indeed keep a “hand on the door-knob”, barring the Chinese again in 1892, 1902, and 1904, and most Japanese and Koreans a few years afterward. The knob turned tighter in 1917 when the United States barred virtually all Asians and again in 1921 and 1924 when the United States all but closed the door to Europe and Japan. Not until World War II was the Chinese Exclusion Act repealed, but even then the United States restricted immigration to a quota of 105 Chinese per year. The door at last reopened in the 1960’s, but shouts to close it again have grown shriller in recent years.” (p.254)
    “The Chinese Exclusion Act neither caused nor made inevitable later restrictions on immigration, but it certainly lent them legitimacy. It made future bans and quota systems easier to justify and easier to accept. […] The law’s legacy, in the form of future restrictions and anti-Asian racism, lingers to this day.” (p.258)

    “I cannot tell you how often since I came here I have felt the force of your declaration that the U.S. was a Pacific power or at least ought to be.” –William Henry Trescot, shortly after arriving in Asia, to William M. Evarts, August. 15, 1880.




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    « La racine de toute doctrine erronée se trouve dans une erreur philosophique. [...] Le rôle des penseurs vrais, mais aussi une tâche de tout homme libre, est de comprendre les possibles conséquences de chaque principe ou idée, de chaque décision avant qu'elle se change en action, afin d'exclure aussi bien ses conséquences nuisibles que la possibilité de tromperie. » -Jacob Sher, Avertissement contre le socialisme, Introduction à « Tableaux de l'avenir social-démocrate » d'Eugen Richter, avril 1998.

    "La vraie volupté est remportée comme une victoire sur la tristesse [...] Il n’y a pas de grands voluptueux sans une certaine mélancolie, pas de mélancoliques qui ne soient des voluptueux trahis." -Albert Thibaudet, La vie de Maurice Barrès, in Trente ans de vie française, volume 2, Éditions de la Nouvelle Revue Française, 1919, 312 pages, p.40.


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