The Chinese Experience in 19th Century America

19th Century American Ideas About Other Peoples

Chinese Exclusion: The Process

Exclusion: Chinese Perspectives



Lesson Overview

TEACHING TIME: Three or four 50-minute class periods


  • Students will define and differentiate prejudice and discrimination.
  • Students will consider the role of the Constitution and the legal system in protecting people from discrimination.
  • Students will consider how some groups may benefit from discriminatory laws and suggest why they might support such legislation.
  • Students will evaluate the arguments made to support discriminatory anti-Chinese legislation.


Adapting the Lesson for Middle School

The anti-Chinese legislation and ordinances activity is a class exercise that could be used with middle school students. Combined with the folk songs, poetry from Angel Island, and “Paper Sons” reading (all in the following lesson), students can develop an understanding of the real impact that the Chinese Exclusion Act had on Chinese living in the United States or wishing to immigrate to the United States. Other activities in this lesson, in particular the White Labor League notice and the Yick Wo v. Hopkins reading require a deeper understanding of societal and civic issues than many middle school students are likely to have.

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