Postbellum Electoral Politics in California and the Genesis of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882
30 Pages Posted: 11 Oct 2021 Last revised: 11 Oct 2023
Date Written: September 16, 2021
After the Civil War, the Democratic party carried an important electoral penalty from being associated with the war. To deal with this penalty, the party took increasingly anti-immigration positions to compete with Republicans. This led some Republican strongholds such as California to become competitive and also forced Republicans to embrace stricter immigration proposals. In this paper, we argue that adopting anti-immigration and raising awareness against immigration made California increasingly competitive in electoral terms. This electoral competitiveness can serve to explain the genesis of the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act.
Keywords: Immigration, Chinese Exclusion Act, Anti-Chinese Movement, Political Economy
JEL Classification: J15, N31, H59
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