The Chinese Exclusion Law of 1902

As the time came for the lapse of the period of exclusion provided by the act of 1892, interest in the exclusion laws again became intense, especially on the Pacific coast.

The Chinese minister, in a letter to the Secretary of State, dated December 10, 1901, brought the matter to the attention of the United States, "urging an adjustment of the questions involved more in harmony with the friendly relations of the two governments."

Senator Mitchell's Bill

On the 16th of January 1902, Senator Mitchell, of Oregon, introduced a bill to prohibit the coming of Chinese into the United States, and regulating their residence within her territories.

A similar bill was introduced in the House by Mr. Kahn, of California. On March 26, 1902, the Committee on Foreign Affairs reported Mr. Kahn's bill with a substitute. Several provisions of the bill were stricken out because they were considered unconstitutional.

Changes in Committee

The committee proposed excluding all Chinese laborers, but wanted to avoid any discourtesy or annoyance to any genuine merchants, students, etc., on the ground that this attitude was necessary in the interests of commerce with China.

It also struck out a clause forbidding the employment of Chinese on ships carrying the American flag on the Pacific Ocean, because of the injury that would accrue to American shipping. Following in the main the committee's recommendations, the bill passed the House.

Final Revisions and Passage of Chinese Exclusion Law

The clause relating to seamen, however, was restored and all laws were extended to the insular possessions. In the Senate, the Mitchell and Kahn bills were considered too severe, and before passing that body they were amended by providing that all existing laws be reenacted, and continue in force until a new treaty should be negotiated. Congress and the President approved it April 29, 1902.

Jeremiah W. Jenks, Ph.D., LL.D. and W. Jett Lauck, A.B., "The Chinese Exclusion Law of 1902" In The Immigration Problem, New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1912, P. 319-320.

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