The Chinese Exclusion Act 1882

The Chinese Exclusion Act was signed into US federal law on May 8, 1882.  The Act was the first major immigration legislation based on nationality.   It was designed to reduce the number of Americans of Chinese descent and to disenfranchise as many as possible through measures such as removing the right to naturalization.  Chinese immigrants were initially tolerated as laborers during the 1848 California Gold Rush, but after the economic downturn of the 1870s, these workers were persecuted.  Although the Chinese comprised less than 1% of the US population in 1882, the law was supported by many labor union leaders and politicians.

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