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US immigration legislation online


1862 Anti-coolie law (An act to prohibit the "coolie trade" by American citizens in American vessels)

Sess. II, Chap. 27; 12 Stat. 340.

37th Congress; February 19, 1862.

You can find the full text of this law as a PDF here.



In February 19, 1862, the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress approved an act banned transportation of “coolies” in ships that were either owned or not owned by citizens of the United States of America. There were 7 sections of the Coolie Trade Act; the first section stated that no citizen of the United States of America should help or prepare any vessel to transport any person from China also known as “coolies.” The second section stated that any person that helped build or equip and navigate any type of ship that belonged to a citizen of America to help any person of the “coolie trade” would be punished with a fine of no more than 2,000 dollars or go to jail for no more than one year. Section 3, 4 and 5 stated that no person should help or transport any coolie on a vessel and if so, they would be punished. This act would not prevent any Chinese from coming to America if they had a certificate signed by a consular official. Section 6 stated that the President of the United States of America had the power to stop or enact this law and have any ship checked if suspected to have a coolie on board. If any ship violated this act, the ship would be sent to the United States of America as soon as possible and placed into custody.

(Summary by Jimmy Vong)



Chinese in California - The website gives you information on the history of Chinese immigration to the United States. It also have links of pictures and essays during the Chinese immigration period during the mid 1800’s.

Timeline of Chinese Immigration History - From a San Francisco Chinatown site.

Legal History of Chinese Americans - Timeline of Chinese Acts and other laws that were aimed at the Chinese.

Cartoons of Thomas Nast: Reconstruction, Chinese immigration, Native Americans, Glided Era - Political cartoons by Thomas Nast.


Many thanks to Hein Online for document provision, and The University of Washington-Bothell Library, for arranging web hosting. If you have any questions about this site, please contact the course instructor, Sarah Starkweather, at sarah [dot] starkweather [at] gmail [dot] com.