The Chinese Experience in 19th Century America

19th Century American Ideas About Other Peoples

Chinese Exclusion: The Process

Exclusion: Chinese Perspectives



“White Labor League” Boycott

One of the arguments used to support Chinese exclusion was economic; Chinese labor was willing to work in poor conditions for low wages to the detriment of other labor. This flyer is just one example of the campaign labor used to seek allies in its efforts to organize. Here, shoe factory workers appeal to the largest organization of farmers, the Farmers’ Alliance, to boycott shoes made by Chinese immigrants who were working for less than native-born or European Americans.

Divide students into groups to read the White Labor League boycott notice and complete the related assignment. Ask each group to discuss the questions included on the group assignment sheet and then prepare a brief written response to Alexis Sullivan expressing the group’s consensus opinion concerning the boycott.

A variation on the assignment could be to assign each group to write a response to the boycott notice from a different perspective—for example, the perspective of farmers, the Chinese community, factory owners, or low-wage urban workers.

The illustration “What Shall We Do with our Boys,” used in the previous lessons, includes references to the major industries that relied on cheap Chinese labor and could also be used in this activity. Another activity that relates to the anti-Chinese efforts of organized labor, “Anti-Chinese Violence at Rock Springs” appears in the next lesson.

An excellent lesson plan relating to another anti-Chinese boycott in Butte Montana in 1896 is available on the National Archives and Records Administration website. Background information is included as are teaching suggestions and a document analysis worksheet.

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