The Chinese Must Go: Violence, Exclusion, and the Making of the Alien in America

Front Cover
Harvard University Press, Feb 26, 2018 - History - 349 pages
The American West erupted in anti-Chinese violence in 1885. Following the massacre of Chinese miners in Wyoming Territory, communities throughout California and the Pacific Northwest harassed, assaulted, and expelled thousands of Chinese immigrants. Beth Lew-Williams shows how American immigration policies incited this violence and how the violence, in turn, provoked new exclusionary policies. Ultimately, Lew-Williams argues, Chinese expulsion and exclusion produced the concept of the “alien” in modern America. The Chinese Must Go begins in the 1850s, before federal border control established strict divisions between citizens and aliens. Across decades of felling trees and laying tracks in the American West, Chinese workers faced escalating racial conflict and unrest. In response, Congress passed the Chinese Restriction Act of 1882 and made its first attempt to bar immigrants based on race and class. When this unprecedented experiment in federal border control failed to slow Chinese migration, vigilantes attempted to take the matter into their own hands. Fearing the spread of mob violence, U.S. policymakers redoubled their efforts to keep the Chinese out, overhauling U.S. immigration law and transforming diplomatic relations with China. By locating the origins of the modern American alien in this violent era, Lew-Williams recasts the significance of Chinese exclusion in U.S. history. As The Chinese Must Go makes clear, anti-Chinese law and violence continues to have consequences for today’s immigrants. The present resurgence of xenophobia builds mightily upon past fears of the “heathen Chinaman.”
 

Contents

Introduction The Violence of Exclusion
1
Restriction
15
Violence
89
Exclusion
167
Epilogue The Modern American Alien
235
Appendix A Sites of AntiChinese Expulsions and Attempted Expulsions 18851887
247
Appendix B Chinese Immigration to the United States 18501904
253
Abbreviations
255
Notes
259
Acknowledgments
337
Index
341
Copyright

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2018)

Beth Lew-Williams is a historian of race and migration in the United States. She is Associate Professor of History at Princeton University. The Chinese Must Go won five book awards, including the Ray Allen Billington Prize and the Ellis W. Hawley Prize from the Organization of American Historians and the Caroline Bancroft History Prize.

Bibliographic information