19th Century

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Chinese Exclusion Act (1882)

Chinese Exclusion Act

The Chinese Exclusion Act was a law signed by president Chester Arthur in 1882 that prohibited all immigration of Chinese laborers into the country. This was the first law implemented in the country that prevented members of a specific ethnic or national group from immigrating into the country. The Act excluded laborers from entering the country for ten years under the penalty of imprisonment and deportation. The law was introduced into the House originally and passed through there, the Senate, and was ultimately signed by President Arthur. This connects to the overall theme as it created a limit on the number of Chinese immigrants that could enter into the country, and thus changing the demographics of the country by doing so. This source was found through the history of Congressional acts in the United States relating to immigration.


Lodgers in a Crowded Bayard Street Tenement  (1889)

How the Other Half Lives

This photograph taken in 1889 by Jacob Riis was a part of his collection titled “How the Other Half Lives, which detailed how new immigrants coming into the country were living. What transpired in his photos were all the hardships that these groups of people faced, and how they were put into almost unlivable conditions in crowded areas of cities, with the focus of his collection on New York City. The main message of this specific photo was to showcase just how awful the conditions were, as there are many people and items in a small amount of space. This connects to the paper as it relates to how the immigration population was so large that it required for their living standards to drop accordingly, leading to overpopulated cities and worse conditions. This photo collection was found from what we looked at in class when covering this subject, and this photo is one of many that could have been chosen.

Restriction of Immigration (1896)

This article from The Nation in 1896 is an opinion piece by Francis Amasa Walker, who details his thoughts on the effects that European immigration will have on America. He is questioning whether the protection of wages, standard of living, and quality of American citizenship will stay the same with influx of immigrants flowing into the country. He also details how the countries of eastern and southern Europe are known to have “Vast throngs of ignorant and brutalized peasantry”. This article is related to the topic as it focuses on how immigrants will affect American citizens who have been there for a while. The article is one that shows the point of view of not wanting immigrants coming into the country. The economic effects of immigrants are profound to any country, and especially to the United States. This article was found through one of our activities earlier in the semester when discussing primary sources on immigration in the late 1800s.