Made up of a relatively small group of notable public figures, this ad hoc organization successfully leveraged its influence to persuade other organizations and members of the public to lobby Congress for the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.
Chinese immigrants first came to the United States during the late 1840’s, when a student sponsored by American missionaries arrived in
In 1882, the U.S. Congress enacted the Chinese Exclusion Act, which prohibited most Chinese from entering the United States, owning property, or becoming American citizens. The Chinese who were already in the country could not bring in their wives or children. The law was renewed in 1892 and made permanent in 1902. By the time the United States entered World War II, in 1941, Chinese exclusion was the law of land. The
The committee was organized by
The committee’s members were mostly eastern elites and their allies in other parts of the country who could use their social and professional positions to generate action against the Exclusion Act. Urged by the committee, business groups, for example, lobbied Congress to change the law, arguing that total exclusion and mistreatment of Chinese by customs officials were bad for business. When pressed, members such as Buck emphasized that repeal was necessary as a measure to win the war.
The committee was instrumental in bringing repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act. By urging larger groups to lobby Congress for support, it effectively leveraged its limited size. During the late autumn of 1943, only seven months after the committee first met, Congress passed the
Ma, Xiaohua. “A Democracy at War: The American Campaign to Repeal Chinese Exclusion in 1943.” Japanese Journal of America Studies 9 (1998): 121-142. Account of the politics of repealing Chinese exclusion emphasizing arguments that repeal was required for a successful war effort against Japan. Riggs, Frederick. Pressure on Congress: A Study of the Repeal of Chinese Exclusion. New York: Columbia University Press, 1950. Definitive work on Chinese exclusion that is widely cited by scholars. Gives a detailed account of how lobbying Congress led to the repeal of the discriminatory law. Skrentny, John D. The Minority Rights Revolution. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2002. Dispassionate account of its subject that seeks understanding of how change occurs rather than denouncing the moral wrongs that impelled it. Locates the repeal of Chinese exclusion within the historical narrative of minority movements for redress of grievances. Wang, L. Ling-chi. “Politics of the Repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Laws.” In Remembering 1882: Fighting for Civil Rights in the Shadow of the Chinese Exclusion Act. San Francisco: Chinese Historical Society of America, 2007. Account of the political process that led to repeal of Chinese exclusion with particular attention to pressure-group lobbying.
Chinese American Citizens Alliance
Chinese boycott of 1905
Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882
Chinese Exclusion Cases
Chinese family associations
Native Sons of the Golden State
Page Law of 1875
World War II