All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
The Fourteenth Amendment gave full citizenship to every person born in the United States, regardless of race. The Fourteenth Amendment not only meant that former slaves could become citizens, but all other races in the United States. This meant that Asian Americans born in the United States could become legal citizens. However, in the landmark case In Re Ah Yup, where a Mongolian man applied for citizenship, it was determined that Asians were ineligible for naturalization. This was because the naturalization laws that followed the Fourteenth Amendment only specified rules for white and black people. The federal court in California came to the conclusion that Asians were neither white nor black, and therefore they could not become citizens despite being born in America.
Illustrator Carl Albert Browne
This illustration depicts a Chinese man being kicked away from California, across the Pacific Ocean, and back into China by a giant Workingmen’s Party member. The Workingmen’s Party in California advocated for the removal of Chinese immigrants. Since Chinese workers were paid much less than white workers, they more likely to be chosen for work. Companies would prefer to pay less and hire Chinese workers instead of white workers. Thus in order to protect the job security of white Americans, the Workingmen’s Party called for the expulsion of Chinese Americans- “The Chinese must go!” This illustration shows the open hostility towards Chinese immigrants and the extent that political groups were organized to ensure that they leave America.
Political Cartoon “The Chinese Question”, February 18, 1871
Artist Thomas Nast, Published in Harper’s weekly
In this woman dressed in a Greek dress named Columbia says: “Hands off, gentlemen! America means fair play for all men” as she protects a crying Chinese man from thug like nativist men. Unlike the political cartoon by Browne , this one is pro-Chinese. Columbia represents the spirit of the United States, and reminds that Americans are all free and equal. The depiction of American men as violent thugs shows how violent both physically and psychologically the attacks against Chinese Americans were. The wall on which the Chinese man is sitting on is filled with slurs such as “lowest”, “vilest”, “barbarians”, which were commonly used by anti-Chinese Americans against immigrants.