Volume:  IX    Index  Page: 295

       In 1844, under a treaty negotiated by Caleb Cushing, 5 Chinese ports
were opened to American trade and protection of life and property was
guaranteed American citizens. By the Burlingame treaty of 1868 the right of
Chinese immigration was admitted, and the promise was made that the subjects
of China should enjoy the same privileges, exemptions, and immunities
respecting travel and residence as the subjects of the most favored nation.
The census of 1880 showed 105,000 Chinese in the United States; that of
1890,  106,688. They were obnoxious to most Americans and occasioned
considerable alarm on account of their increasing numbers and their habits
of life, which render their assimilation with Americans impossible. Petty
persecutions followed. In 1879 a bill restricting their immigration passed
Congress, but was vetoed by President Hayes (VII, 514). Several laws were
made later restricting their immigration. In 1892 the Geary Act was passed,
providing that any Chinaman not lawfully entitled to remain in the United
States should be removed to China and all Chinese laborers should be obliged
to procure certificates of residence from the collector of Internal revenue,
failure to do so within a year to be followed by deportation. This act was
modified considerably by a law passed in 1893.
                        *   *   *   *   *   *  *  *

Volume:  VII  Page:514-517

During the term of Rutherford B. Hayes while in office as President , March
4, 1877, to March 4, 1881.

                      VETO MESSAGE

                              Executive Mansion, March 1, 1879

To the House of Representatives:
       After a very careful consideration of House bill 2423, entitled "An
to restrict the immigration of Chinese to the United States," I herewith
return it to the House of Representatives, in which it originated, with my
objections to its passage.
    The bill, as it was sent to the Senate from the House of
Representatives, was confined in its provisions to the object named in its
title, which is that of "An act to restrict the immigration of Chinese to
the United States." The only means adopted to secure the proposed object was
the limitation on the number of Chinese passengers which might be brought to
this country by any one vessel to fifteen; and as this number was not fixed
in any proportion to the size or tonnage of the vessel or by any
consideration of the safety or accommodation of these passengers, the simple
purpose and effect of the enactment were to repress this immigration to an
extent falling but little short of its absolute exclusion.
    The bill, as amended in the Senate and now presented to me, includes an
independent and additional provision which aims at and in terms requires the
abrogation by this Government of Articles V and VI of the treaty with China
commonly called the Burlingame treaty, through the action of the Executive
enjoined by this provision of the act.
    The Burlingame treaty, of which the ratifications were exchanged at
Peking November 23, 1869, recites as the occasion and motive of its
negotiation by the two Governments that "since the conclusion of the treaty
between the United States of America and the Ta Tsing Empire (China) of the
18th of June, 1858, circumstances have arisen showing  the necessity of
additional articles thereto," and proceeds to an agreement as to said
additional articles. These negotiations, therefore, ending by the signature
of the additional articles July 28, 1868, had for their object the
completion of our treaty rights and obligations toward the Government of
China by the incorporation of these new articles as  thenceforth parts of
the principal treaty to which they are made supplemental. Upon the settled
rules of interpretation applicable to such  supplemental negotiations the
text of the principal treaty and of these "additional articles thereto"
constitute one treaty from the conclusion of the new negotiations, in all
parts of equal and concurrent force and obligation between the two
Governments, and to all intents and purposes as if embraced in one
    The principal treaty, of which the ratifications were exchanged August
16, 1859, recites that " the United States of America and the Ta Tsing
Empire, desiring to maintain firm, lasting, and sincere friendship, have
resolved to renew, in a manner clear and positive, by means of a treaty or
general convention of peace, amity and commerce, the rules which shall in
future be mutually observed in the intercourse of their respective
countries," and proceeds in its thirty articles to lay out a careful and
comprehensive system for the commercial relations of our people with China.
The main substance of all the provisions of this treaty is to define and
secure the rights of our people in respect of access to, residence and
protection in and trade with China.
     At the date of the negotiation of this treaty our Pacific possessions
had attracted a considerable Chinese emigration, and the advantages and the
inconveniences felt or feared therefrom had become more or less manifest;
but they dictated no stipulations on the subject to be incorporated in the
treaty. The year 1868 was marked by the striking event of a spontaneous
embassy from the Chinese Empire, headed by an American citizen, Anson
Burlingame, who had relinquished his diplomatic representation of his own
country in China to assume that of the Chinese Empire to the United States
and the European nations. By this time the facts of the Chinese immigration
and its nature and influences, present and prospective, had become more
noticeable and were more observed by the population immediately affected and
by this Government. The principal feature of the Burlingame treaty was its
attention to and its treatment of the Chinese immigration and the Chinese as
forming, or as they should form, a part of our population. Up to this time
our uncovenanted hospitality to immigration, our fearless liberality of
citizenship, our equal and comprehensive justice to all inhabitants, whether
they abjured their foreign nationality or not, our civil freedom, and our
religious toleration had made all comers welcome, and under these
protections the Chinese in considerable numbers had made their lodgment upon
our soil.
    The Burlingame treaty undertakes to deal with this situation, and its
fifth and sixth articles embrace its most important provisions in this
regard and the main stipulations in which the Chinese Government has secured
an obligatory protection of its subjects within our territory. They read as

ART.V.  The United States of America and the Emperor of China cordially
recognize the inherent and inalienable right of man to change his home and
allegiance, and also the mutual advantage of the free migration and
emigration of their citizens and subjects respectively from the one country
to the other for purposes of curiosity, of trade, or as permanent residents.
The high contracting parties therefore join in reprobating any other than an
entirely voluntary emigration for these purposes. They consequently agree to
pass laws making it a penal offense for a citizen of the United States or
Chinese subjects to take Chinese subjects either to the United States or to
any other foreign country, or for a Chinese subject or citizen of the United
States to take citizens of the United States to China or to any other
foreign country, without their free and voluntary consent, respectively.

ART.  VI.  Citizens of the United States visiting or residing in China shall
enjoy the same privileges, immunities, or exemptions in respect to travel or
residence as may there be enjoyed by the citizens or subjects of the most
favored nation and reciprocally, Chinese subjects visiting or residing in
the United States shall enjoy the same privileges, immunities, and
exemptions in respect to travel or residence as may there be enjoyed by the
citizens or subjects of the most favored nation. But nothing herein
contained shall be held to confer naturalization upon citizens of the United
States in China, nor upon the subjects of China in the United States.

    An examination of these two articles in the light of the experience then
influential in suggesting their "necessity" will show that the fifth article
was framed in hostility to what seemed the principal mischief to be guarded
against, to wit, the introduction of Chinese laborers by methods which
should have the character of a forced and servile importation, and not of a
voluntary emigration of freemen seeking our shores upon motives and in a
manner consonant with the system of our institutions and approved by the
experience of the nation. Unquestionably the adhesion of the Government of
China to these liberal principles of freedom in emigration, with which we
were so familiar and with which we were so well satisfied, was a great
advance toward opening that Empire to our civilization and religion, and
gave promise in the future of greater and greater practical results in the
diffusion throughout that great population of our arts and industries, our
manufactures, our material improvements, and the sentiments of government
and religion which seem to us so important to the welfare of mankind.  The
first clause of this article secures this acceptance by China of the
American doctrines of free migration to and fro among the peoples and races
of the earth.
    The second clause, however, in its reprobation of "any other than an
entirely voluntary emigration" by both the high contracting parties, and in
the reciprocal obligations whereby we secured the solemn and unqualified
engagement on the part of the Government of China " to pass laws making it a
penal offense for a citizen of the United States or Chinese subjects to take
Chinese subjects either to the United States or to any other foreign country
without their free and voluntary consent" constitutes the great force and
value of this article. Its importance both in principle and in its practical
service toward our protection against servile importation in the guise of
immigration can not be over estimated. It commits the Chinese Government to
active and efficient measures to suppress this iniquitous system, where
those measures are most necessary and can be most effectual. It gives to
this Government  the footing of a treaty right to such measures and the
means and opportunity of insisting upon their adoption and of complaint and
resentment at their neglect. The fifth article, therefore, if it fall short
of what the pressure of the later experience of our Pacific States may urge
upon the attention of this Government as essential to the public welfare,
seems to be in the right direction and to contain important advantages which
once relinquished can not be easily recovered.
    The second topic which interested the two Governments under the actual
condition of things which prompted the Burlingame treaty was adequate
protection, under the solemn and definite guaranties of a treaty, of the
Chinese already in this country and those who should seek our shores. This
was the object, and forms the subject of the sixth article, by whose
reciprocal engagement the citizens and subjects of the Two Governments,
respectively, visiting or residing in the country of the other are secured
the same privileges, immunities, or exemptions there enjoyed by the citizens
or subjects of the most favored nations. The treaty of 1858, to which these
articles are made supplemental, provides for a great amount of privilege and
protection, both of person and property, to American citizens in China, but
it is upon this sixth article that the main body of the treaty rights and
securities of the Chinese already in this country     depends.
     Its abrogation, were the rest of the treaty left in force, would
leave them to such treatment as we should voluntarily accord them by our
laws and customs. Any treaty obligation would be wanting to restrain our
liberty of action toward them, or to measure or sustain the right of the
Chinese Government to complaint or redress in their behalf.
    The lapse of ten years since the negotiation of the Burlingame treaty
has exhibited to the notice of the Chinese Government, as well as to our own
people, the working of this experiment of immigration  in great numbers of
Chinese laborers to this country, and their maintenance here of all the
traits of race, religion, manners and customs, habitations, mode of life,
segregation here, and the keeping up of the ties of their original home,
which stamp them as strangers and sojourners, and not as incorporated
elements of our national life and growth. This experience may naturally
suggest the reconsideration of the subject as dealt with by the Burlingame
treaty, and may properly become the occasion of more direct and circumspect
recognition, in renewed negotiations, of the difficulties surrounding this
political and social problem. It may well be that, to the apprehension of
the Chinese Government no less than our own, the simple provisions of the
Burlingame treaty may need to be replaced by more careful methods, securing
the Chinese and ourselves against a larger and more rapid infusion of this
foreign race than our system of industry and society can take up and
assimilate with ease and safety. This ancient Government, ruling a polite
and sensitive people, distinguished by a high sense of national pride, may
properly desire an adjustment of their relations with us which would in all
things confirm and in no degree endanger the permanent peace and amity and
the growing commerce and prosperity which it has been the object and the
effect of our existing treaties to cherish and perpetuate.
    I regard the very grave discontents of the people of the Pacific States
with the present working of the Chinese immigration, and their still graver
apprehensions therefrom in the future, as deserving  the most serious
attention of the people of the whole country and a solicitous interest on
the part of Congress and the Executive. If this were not my own judgment,
the passage of this bill by both Houses of Congress would impress upon me
the seriousness of the situation, when a majority of the representatives of
the people of the whole country had thought fit to justify so serious a
measure of relief.
    The authority of Congress to terminate a treaty with a foreign power by
expressing the will of the nation no longer to adhere to it is as free from
controversy under our Constitution as is the further proposition that the
power of making new treaties or modifying existing treaties is not lodged by
the Constitution in Congress, but in the President, by and with the advice
and consent of the Senate, as shown by the concurrence of two-thirds of that
body.  A denunciation of a treaty by any government is confessedly
justifiable only upon some reason both of the highest justice and of the
highest necessity.
    Instances have sometimes occurred where the ordinary legislation of
Congress has, by its conflict with some treaty  obligation of the Government
toward a foreign power, taken effect as an infraction of the treaty, and
been judicially declared to be operative to that result; but neither such
legislation nor such judicial sanction of the same has been regarded as an
abrogation, even for the moment, of the treaty. On the contrary, the treaty
in such case still subsists between the governments, and the casual
infraction is repaired by appropriate satisfaction in maintenance of the
    The bill before me does not enjoin upon the President the abrogation of
the entire Burlingame treaty, much less of the principal treaty of which  it
is made the supplement. As the power of modifying an existing treaty,
whether by adding or striking out provisions, is a part of the treaty-making
power under the Constitution, its exercise is not competent for Congress,
nor would the assent of China to this partial abrogation of the treaty make
the action of Congress in thus procuring an amendment of a treaty a
competent exercise of authority under the Constitution. The importance,
however, of this special consideration seems superseded by the principle
that a denunciation of a part of a treaty not made by the terms of the
treaty itself separable from the rest is a denunciation of the whole treaty.
As the other high contracting party has entered into no treaty obligations
except such as include  the part denounced, the denunciation by one party of
the part necessarily liberates the other party from the whole treaty.
    I am convinced that, whatever urgency might in any quarter or by any
interest be supposed to require an instant suppression of further
immigration from China, no reasons can require the immediate withdrawal of
our treaty protection of the Chinese already in this country, and no
circumstances can tolerate an exposure of our citizens in China, merchants
or missionaries, to the consequences of so sudden an abrogation of their
treaty protection.  Fortunately, however, the actul recession in the flow of
the emigration from China to the Pacific Coast, shown by trustworthy
statistics, relieves us from any apprehension that the treatment of the
subject in the proper course of diplomatic negotiations will introduce any
new features of discontent or disturbance among the communities directly
affected. Were such delay fraught with more inconveniences than have ever
been suggested by the interests most earnest in promoting this legislation,
I can not but regard the summary disturbance of our existing treaties with
China as greatly more inconvenient to much wider and more permanent
interests of the country.
    I have no occasion to insist upon the more general considerations of
interest and duty which sacredly guard the faith of the nation, in whatever
form of obligation it may have been given. These sentiments animate the
deliberations of Congress and pervade the minds of our whole people. Our
history gives little occasion for any reproach in this regard; and in asking
the renewed attention of Congress to this bill I am persuaded that their
action will maintain the public duty and the public honor.
                     *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Volume:  IX   Page: 41

 During the term of Benjamin Harrison while in Office as President March 4,
1889, to March 4, 1893.

         Executive Mansion, Washington, December 3, 1889

     The enforcement of the Chinese exclusion act has been found to be very
difficult on the northwestern frontier. Chinamen landing at Victoria find it
easy to pass our border, owing to the impossibility with the force at the
command of the customs officers of guarding so long an inland line. The
Secretary of the Treasury has authorized the employment of additional
officers, who will be assigned to this duty, and every effort will be made
to enforce the law. The Dominion exacts a head tax of $50 for each Chinaman
landed, and when these persons, in  fraud of our law, cross into our
territory and are apprehended our officers do not know what to do with them,
as the Dominion authorities will not suffer them to be sent back without a
second payment of the tax. An effort will be made to reach an understanding
that will remove this difficulty.
                         *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Volume:  IX    Pages: 197-198

During the term of Benjamin Harrison while in Office as President March 4,
1889, to March 4,1893.

          Executive Mansion,  December 9, 1891

To the Senate and House of Representatives:
(extract of message)
      The enforcement by the Treasury Department of the law
prohibiting the coming of Chinese to the United States has been effective as
to such as seek to land from vessels entering our ports. The result has been
to divert the travel to vessels entering the ports of British Columbia,
Whence passage into the United States at obscure points along the Dominion
boundary is easy. A very considerable number of Chinese laborers have during
the past year entered the United States from Canada and Mexico.
    The officers of the Treasury Department and of the Department of Justice
have used every means at their command to intercept this immigration; but
the impossibility of perfectly guarding our extended frontier is apparent.
The Dominion government collects a head tax of $50 from every Chinaman
entering Canada, and thus derives a considerable revenue from those who only
use its ports to reach a position of advantage to evade our exclusion laws.
There seems to be satisfactory evidence that the business of passing
Chinamen through Canada to the United States is organized and quite active.
The Department of Justice has construed the laws to require the return of
any Chinaman found to be unlawfully in this country to China as the country
from which he came, notwithstanding the fact that he came by way of Canada;
but several of the district courts have in cases brought before them
overruled this view of the law and decided that such persons must be
returned to Canada. This construction robs the law of all effectiveness,
even if the decrees could be executed, for the men returned can the next day
recross our border. But the only appropriation made is for sending them back
to China, and the Canadian officials refuse to allow them to reenter Canada
without the payment of the fifty-dollar head tax. I recommend such
legislation as will remedy these defects in the law.
                    *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Volume:  IX     Page: 436

During the term of Grover Cleveland while in Office as President March 4,
1893, to March 4, 1897.

               FIRST  ANNUAL  MESSAGE
 Executive Mansion, Washington, December 4, 1893

To the Congress of the United States:
(extract of message)
      The legislation of last year known as the Geary law,
requiring the registration of all Chinese  laborers entitled to residence in
the United States and the deportation of all not complying with the
provisions of the act within the time prescribed, met with much opposition
from Chinamen in this country. Acting upon the advice of eminent counsel
that the law was unconstitutional, the great mass of Chinese laborers,
pending judicial inquiry as to its validity, in good faith declined to apply
for the certificates required by its provisions. A test case upon proceeding
by "habeas corpus" was brought before the Supreme Court, and on May 15,
1893, a decision was made by that tribunal sustaining the law.
    It is believed that under the recent amendment of the act extending the
time for registration the Chinese laborers thereto entitled who desire to
reside in this country will now avail themselves of the renewed privilege
thus afforded of establishing by lawful procedure their right to remain, and
that thereby the necessity of enforced deportation may to a great degree be

Source:  "A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents
by:  James D. Richardson....A Representative from the State of Tennessee.
Publisher:  By Authority of Congress....1899
Copyright:  by James D. Richardson...1897.

     Researched and Transcribed by Miriam Medina