The Other Side

Newspaper Article

Transcription of Primary Source

Suppose that, upon the enactment of the anti-Chinese bill now pending, the Chinese government should close the ports of the empire to American citizens and American commerce. The existing treaties, of course, guarantee to the United States all privileges enjoyed by the most favored nation, and refusal to admit them would therefore be a breach of the treaties; but the Chinese might say; "You have first broken them by forbidding us to enter your country, and the obligations of a treaty, if they are not mutually binding, are worthless. If you repudiate your part of the agreement you cannot expect us to respect ours." China could surely take that means of retaliation without fear of the consequences, for we could not force her to open her ports, as Great Britain did in the infamous opium war. Great Britain had the strongest navy in the world, while we have none that would be in the least formidable. China has a fleet of iron clad steamships and gunboats built in England, that are believed to be very efficient, and she would have no trouble in getting plenty of competent foreign officers to command them if needed. It would be folly to oppose to this fleet any or all the vessels of war which the United States now has in commission, or could put into a seaworthy condition within two or three years. So far as this country is concerned China has nothing to fear, and can pursue its own policy without being influenced in the least by the apprehension of being coerced.

Apparently the Chinese might make as good an argument for the exclusion of our people from their country as we can for their exclusion from ours. Americans in China are aliens in race and religion; they are not homogeneous, as Senator Edmunds would say; they do not assimilate; they do not become the subjects of the empire, and are not even willing to submit to its laws and local authorities, as Chinamen here are compelled to do; they do not go with the intention of spending their lives there, but to make as much money as they can, and carry it away with them when they have enough; they do not in general take their families with them, and the habitual conduct of many, perhaps a majority of them, is immoral and corrupting to the people with whom they have intercourse; their religion, so far as they give evidence of having any, is hostile to those of the country and offensive: the American merchants crowd the natives out of the foreign trade and interfere with them in other ways, and the whole influence of the American residents tends to the subversion of the ancient institutions of the country and the habits of the people, and to the introduction of a foreign and alien civilization, whose progress the Chinese government may well regard with serious apprehension. These are substantially the same objections made by the Californians to the admission of the Chinese, and if they are reasonable on our part, they are no less so on theirs. If they should insist that what is sauce for the Chinese goose is no less suitable dressing for the American gander, we should have no right to complain.


Formidable - causing fear, dread, or apprehension

Curator Notes

Exact Title: 
The Other Side
Worcester Daily Spy
Probable Date: 
March 20, 1882
John Milton Earle
Place of Publication: 
Worcester, Massachusetts
American Antiquarian Society