A 1901 letter from a Los Angeles banker asking US Secretary of State John Hay to reconsider a portion of the Chinese Exclusion Act.
In this letter, Los Angeles banker John Alton writes to John Hay, Secretary of State under President William McKinley, who was visiting California. Alton asks Hay to reevaluate a part of the Chinese Exclusion Act that only allows the wealthiest immigrants to visit their home country. Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 in response to American anxiety about the growing number of Chinese immigrants in the United States. It targeted unskilled laborers for exclusion, allowing only merchants, diplomats, students, and other privileged classes to enter the country and visit their homes. While many white Americans feared Chinese immigrants would take their jobs, others benefitted from Chinese immigration by employing Chinese workers at low wages.