Rooted in antebellum times, discrimination against Asian immigrants intensified dramatically during the last quarter of the nineteenth century. At the same time, resistance to racism and exclusion persisted and grew. Through organizations, petitions, pamphlets, speeches, and articles, public figures -- both Asian and non-Asian -- spoke against racist restrictions, treaties, and pogroms. Chinese organizations challenged discrimination from the very beginning [Document 1]. Few Americans were as adamant in support of Chinese rights as Mark Twain, whose major essays on the subject cover the period of its greatest controversy [Documents 2 and 3a and b]. The exchange between Henry George and John Stuart Mill in 1869 offers a comparison between the anti-immigrant views of the former and the more tolerant approach of the latter [Documents 4a and b]. Well-known abolitionist and reformer Wendell Phillips supported the right of free, voluntary Chinese immigration to the United States [Document 5], as did his longtime friend and colleague William Lloyd Garrison [Document 10].
In response to the crystallization of anti-Chinese sentiment in legal form, significant voices were raised in opposition. No sooner had the 1876 Congressional hearings concluded than there appeared Augustus Layres' strong denunciation of exclusion and its chief Senatorial protagonist, Aaron Sargent of California [Document 6]; Joseph C.G. Kennedy's critique of Sargent's report was in the same vein [Document 7]. Chung Wai Hsin Pao's pamphlet [Document 8] and the satiric Uncle Sam-ee and his Little Chin-ee [Document 9] came out in 1879. Violence and threats against the Chinese in San Francisco provoked the articles comprising Documents 11, 12a and b.
Anti-Chinese attacks were by no means confined to California: the 1880's witnessed a wave of assaults in the Pacific Northwest, in Seattle, Portland, and Tacoma, and in the Territories of Montana and Wyoming. Judge Roger S. Greene's speech and the reaction in the press [Document 13] indicate the bitterness of the debate. As exclusion became more entrenched in policy, the Chinese community again spoke in resistance [Documents 14, 15, and 19];an