Lessons in This Unit
Connections to the Curriculum
This unit focuses on the Chinese immigrant experience in late 19th Century America.
Their coming raised issues of social and cultural diversity, discrimination,
and national identity -- issues that are still be debated today.
The activities in
this unit could be used in a U.S. history curriculum in lessons on immigration,
industrialization, and urban life in the late 19th century as well as a unit
focused on Chinese immigration. and deal with issues of social and cultural
diversity and national identity.
Main Ideas of the Unit
Immigration policy is a reflection of how Americans define their
national identity and culture.
The Exclusion Act and other discriminatory
laws were motivated by a fear of Chinese culture and racist attitudes held
by the native-born population and
other European immigrant groups.
Some of the same ideas and sentiments that
underlay the Exclusion Act were responsible for the discrimination experienced
by other groups.
The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was the culmination of
a sustained local and national effort to segregate and exclude the Chinese
from the mainstream
of American life.
The Exclusion Act represented the first effort of the
United States government to regulate or limit the immigration of free persons
and set a precedent
for basing immigration policy solely on race and ethnic background, a practice
continued until 1965.
Chinese immigrants in the 19th and early 20th centuries
carried out a sustained challenge to anti-Chinese discrimination. Despite
and suffering caused by oppressive anti-Chinese laws and policies, Chinese
to make lives for themselves, establish families and communities, and
contribute to the development of the United States.