Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Scott Act 1888

The Scott Act

The Scott Act was introduced to build upon the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. It was part of a series of legislation passed which intended to curb then ultimately ban any and all immigration to the United States from China.
Introduced by Representative William Scott of Pennsylvania, chair of the Democratic National Campaign Committee, the Scott Act aimed the permanently ban the immigration and or return of Chinese laborers to the United States also ending the certification or exit visa process.

Unanimously passing the House of Representatives the bill only met slight resistance in the US Senate.
The Scott Act which was signed into law by President Grover Cleveland on October 1st, 1888.

Following waves of anti chinese sentiment among americans which included the Anti Chinese Riots of 1885-1886. The Chinese Government concluded that due to the inability of the American government to protect Chinese citizens living in America they, China, would have to limit emigration themselves. Proposing a new Sino-American treaty be drafted the Chinese foreign office negotiated with the U.S. State Department as to how this problem should be addressed.

Ultimately the Bayard-Zhang Treaty was proposed which would prohibit Chinese immigration or the return of Chinese laborers to the US for 20 years, unless the laborers had assets worth at least $1000 or had immediate family living within the United States. In return the United States Government agreed to protect Chinese people and chinese property in America.

Having been met with massive opposition in China, mainly in provinces where most Chinese immigrants to America originated. The Chinese backed out of the agreement agreeing only to ratify it if more exceptions were allowed for the return of Chinese Laborers.

Fearing the Bayard-Zhang Treaty would not be ratified, Congress acted to pass the Scott Act.  The passing of the Scott Act left 20 to 30 thousand Chinese who had temporarily left the United States to visit China unable to reenter the United States as it left their reentry certificates null and void. These people were left stranded in China having already built a life in America only to find themselves unable to return. The Chinese Government refused to recognize the bills legitimacy.

Posted by David Peterson

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