Document Type

Paper- Restricted to Campus Access

Publication Date


Faculty Mentor

Johanna Mellis


The United States, in some regard, has held the reputation of being a nation of immigrants, open to accepting new cultures and communities. There is no denying the diversity of ethnicities, races, and religions that exist in the United States today, however there is contention as to what extent those ethnicities, races, religions, and cultures are accepted in mainstream America. The passing of The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 marks the first time in United States history in which there was a widespread refusal of access to the United States strictly on the grounds of race and nationality. Scholarship addressing the Chinese Exclusion Act has generally focused on the passing of the legislation that occurred in 1882 but often neglects the racism and xenophobia that was present several decades before the Act was passed. It is important to note that scholars have addressed the fact that California was attempting to pass legislation to limit immigration from China several years leading up to the eventual exclusion act which was passed by Congress in 1882. It is my argument that casual racism existed far before legislation was enacted by the state or federal governments to limit migration, however, exclusion laws and other governmental interferences legitimized and, in some cases, encouraged anti-Chinese sentiments.


Presented as part of the Ursinus College Celebration of Student Achievement (CoSA) held April 19, 2023.

The downloadable file contains a poster.


Available to Ursinus community only.