Forbidden Citizens: Chinese Exclusion and the U.S. Congress : a Legislative History

Front Cover
The Capitol Net Inc, Dec 1, 2011 - History - 616 pages

"Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates though faculty."

" L]andmark volume on the subject of exclusionary policies against Chinese and Chinese Americans ... a valuable teaching tool ... an exemplary subject reference."
-- Library Journal

Named an Honor Book by the Asian and Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA), and a Gold Winner of the Benjamin Franklin Award.

A whole class of people, forbidden from ever becoming citizens . . . forbidden from even entering the country-their rights torn up and trampled on, left with no political redress. This was the United States of America from 1882 through 1943-if you had the misfortune to be Chinese.

The United States Congress banned all Chinese from becoming U.S. citizens from 1882 through 1943, and stopped most Chinese from even entering the country starting in 1882. Forbidden Citizens recounts this long and shameful legislative history. Congress passed restrictive legislation between 1879 and 1904. The most notorious was the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, described as "one of the most vulgar forms of barbarism," by Rep. John Kasson (R-IA) in 1882.

These laws were targeted not only at immigration, they banned citizenship, even for legal immigrants who had arrived before the gate was closed in 1882. Barred from becoming voters, the Chinese had no political recourse against repeated discrimination.

Because their appearance and lifestyle were so different, it was easy to tyrannize the Chinese. Insisting that the Chinese could not assimilate into American culture, lawmakers actively blocked them from doing so. Democrats and Republicans alike found the Chinese easy prey.

For the first time, this book assembles the complete legislative history of Congress's Chinese exclusion.

"Our nation has the greatest ideals, standing as that 'city upon a hill' for the world over to look toward with hope. Yet we have not always been as welcoming as we have proclaimed. Forbidden Citizens by Martin Gold tells the story of the exclusion of a specific group, the Chinese people, for racial reasons that were expressed in the most shocking terms. It is thorough, thoughtful, and highly relevant today. This work presents the best scholarship in the most accessible manner."
-- Frank H. Wu, Chancellor & Dean, University of California Hastings College of the Law

"Through engaging narrative, Forbidden Citizens expertly tells a story unfamiliar to most Americans, one that left a permanent scar upon the psyche of Chinese Americans and changed our nation forever. Martin Gold's thorough and pioneering research into decades of Congressional history brings to life the politics of Chinese exclusion in a way no one has."
-- Judy Chu, United States Representative (D-CA)

"Forbidden Citizens is a moving account of a regrettable part of American history. Marty Gold has done us all a service by bringing this story to light so that our past mistakes are never repeated."
-- Scott Brown, United States Senator (R-MA)

"An important piece of scholarship, which vividly depicts the intensity of anti-Chinese and anti-Asian feeling that was widespread even among our intellectual and political elite only a century ago."
-- Stephen Hsu, Professor of Physics, University of Oregon

For Complete Table of Contents, see



Debate in the House of Representatives
Naturalization Act of 1870 16 Stat 254
Angell Treaty 1880
The TenYear Exclusion Legislation of 1882 H R 5804
The 1902 Extension

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Common terms and phrases

About the author (2011)

MARTIN B. GOLD is a partner with Capitol Counsel. Previously he was a partner with the law firm of Covington & Burling. In 2003, he served as Floor Advisor and Counsel to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. His tour with the Leader represented a return to Senate service after twenty years in the private sector. Mr. Gold was co-founder of The Legislative Strategies Group, LLC and his practice ranged widely, with an emphasis on sports law, health care, antitrust, communications, and taxation.

Mr. Gold is the author of Forbuidden Citizens and Senate Procedure and Practice: An Introductory Manual, a widely consulted primer on Senate Floor procedure, a subject on which he frequently lectures in offices of United States Senators and for Congressional Quarterly and TheCapitol.Net. He has also spoken frequently at George Washington University, American University, the University of Maryland, and to numerous domestic audiences on political and legislative subjects.

Further, he has been a guest lecturer at Moscow State University, the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, the State Parliament of Ukraine and the Federation Council of the Russian Federal Assembly. Mr. Gold is also a consultant to C-SPAN on matters of Senate procedure.

During a 10-year period from 1972 to 1982, Mr. Gold worked in a variety of senior staff positions in the United States Senate, culminating as counsel to Senate Majority Leader Howard H. Baker, Jr. (R-TN). Mr. Gold began his career as a legal assistant to Senator Mark O. Hatfield (R-OR) and later served as Republican Staff Director and Counsel to the Senate Rules Committee and as a professional staff member on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

Subsequent to his Senate experience, Mr. Gold was president of the lobbying firm Gold and Liebengood, which he co-founded in 1984. He joined the government relations firm, Johnson, Smith, Dover, Kitzmiller & Stewart, Inc. in 1995.

He was instrumental in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House passing expressions of regret for the Chinese exclusion laws: S. Res. 201 in October 2011, and H. Res. 683 in June 2012. In 2012, he was awarded the “Champion of Justice Award” by the Chinese American Citizens Alliance for his work on the project.

A graduate of the Washington College of Law at American University, Mr. Gold also served Of Counsel to Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt, a Pacific Northwest law firm with principal offices in Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington.