New York State Archives
Throughout the Ages
A Visual Document Resource

Questions | Buffalo | Chinese Communities

Humans Across Borders: U.S. Exclusion Policy Leads to Smuggling of Chinese Immigrants

To the student: This question is based on the accompanying seven documents. It has been created in order to test your ability to work with historical documents. Some of these documents have been edited for the purposes of this question. As you analyze the documents, try to understand the source of the document and any point of view that is presented in the document.

Historical Context: In response to massive immigration of Chinese laborers during the time of the California Gold Rush (post-1849) and the building of the Transcontinental Railroad, Congress passed a series of laws beginning in 1882 that prevented the immigration of Chinese laborers. These Exclusion Laws were not repealed until 1943. During this time, Chinese laborers who wished to enter the U.S. often did so through a coordinated smuggling operation.

Task: Using information from the seven following documents and your own knowledge of history, to answer the questions that follow each document in Part A. Your answers to the questions will help you to accomplish one of the writing assignments given in Part B, in which you will be asked to

  • Describe Exclusion Laws, tell which group of Chinese people were most affected by them, and what the consequences of the laws were on that group of people.
  • Describe what the U.S. government did to try to enforce Exclusion Laws.
  • Include information specific to the area of Buffalo, New York and tell why geography led to smuggling activities in that area.

PART A Short-Answer Questions
Directions: Read and analyze the documents and answer the short-answer questions in the space provided. Prepare for the reading of the documents by studying the vocabulary definitions that are given before each document.