The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and Its Impact on North American Society

Kelly Tian, University of Chicago

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Abstract: The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 made a profound impact on American society, affecting the targeted Chinese people and as well as Caucasians. Because much of what happens in the past influences the present and future, it is vital to understand the motives for the Act and how it affects others. Perhaps by learning about previous difficulties one can draw conclusions on how to lead more productive and harmonious lives in the future.

This essay will explore the causes, effects, and background of the Chinese Exclusion Act. The essay presents findings on the circumstances of the Exclusion Act and the reasons behind its implementation. Any such law that impacts people so significantly is likely to be met with much controversy, as was the case with this Act. Included in this discussion is a section describing alternate views and how they relate to the time period of the late 19th century, as well as how they relate to the modern era of thought. The Exclusion Act led to a decrease in economic productivity across the nation, because Asians, a diligent group of people living in the country, were restrained from making more contributions. Thus, it can be concluded that targeting specific groups in times of need with such an Act has very little benefit to any population.

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