Immigration and Racial Prejudice: The Chinese Exclusion Act

Posted: 15/03/2021 by vequinox in Literature


400px-Johnchinaman ‘A Matter of Taste’ by Thomas Nast, 15 March, 1879

On the 15th of March 1879, Thomas Nast’s cartoon, A Matter of Taste, was published. In the cartoon, criticising the support of the Chinese Exclusion Act, Senator James G. Blaine, an active backer of the Act, is shown dining in ‘Kearney’s Senatorial Restaurant’ – a reference to Denis Kearney, the leader of a violent anti-Chinese movement in California. In the foreground of the picture, John Confucius – Nast’s variant of a stock caricature of a Chinese labourer commonly referred to as John Chinaman, poses a question, “How can Christians stomach such diet?”. The simplicity of the cartoon is striking, yet its message powerful. But such was the style of Thomas Nast, well known for his political cartoons and political convictions. He opposed slavery, racial segregation, and deplored the violence of the Ku Klux Klan. He was also…

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