Supporting and defending anti-Chinese prejudice in the late 19th century, as harmful as it was, was also popular with many non-Chinese. At the same time, not all of those that supported the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act did so in overtly racialized language. One of those was Henry George.  Writing in The Standard in October 1890, George framed his support of Chinese exclusion in the name of equal rights. Read an excerpt from “The Issue of Chinese Immigration” below:

But there are those who may say: “If the true rule of political action be to treat others as we would be treated, how can the exclusion of the Chinese be justified?” This is another form of the question, “If all men have equal rights to land, must he not admit the equal right of the Chinese to American land ?” 

Perhaps the best answer is that we have not carried out the principle of equal liberty far enough among ourselves to permit the coming among us of such a people as the Chinese without injurious, if not fatal, consequences. 

For, so long as the denial to our own people of the first of natural rights leaves wages to be fixed by the competition of the disinherited with the disinherited, the presence of the Chinese among us in numbers must give rise to bitter prejudices and strong passions, while their lower standard of comfort will enable them to absolutely displace our own people. But with the natural liberty to employ themselves assured to our own people, and with wages raised to their true standard, this danger would cease to exist. But in the meantime, if we cannot throw open our doors to the ingress of Chinese we can at least throw open our ports to their trade, and in all our national relations with them treat them with that courtesy and respect

Read how a Chinese-American countered arguments in support of Chinese exclusion.

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