Angel Island

Immigrants From the West

Where is Angel Island located?

Angel Island is an island located on San Francisco Bay, California. Angel Island is located on the west coast of the United States.

Who Came to Angel Island?


Asian immigrants came to Angel Island because it is located on the West Coast, which is closer to Asia. Between 1851-1883 about 300,000 Chinese immigrants arrived at Angel Island. They came hoping to find gold in California. They also knew about the transcontinental railroad, so they knew they could venture outside of California. Many also came to the state to start a new life farming and mining.

Conditions of the Angel Island

The immigrants that entered Angel Island experienced bad conditions. They often waited for extended periods of time to determine whether they would be admitted into the United States or rejected and sent back home. During these long waiting periods, the Chinese immigrants were detained in overcrowded ramshackle buildings and endured harsh questioning.
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Entrance Procedures

Each immigrant was required to get a grueling physical exam from a doctor to determine if they were healthy enough to enter the United States. Additionally, in 1897, Congress passed the literacy test, which required immigrants to prove their literacy. In the literacy test, if the immigrants could not read 40 words in English OR their native language, they would be rejected and sent home to their native country. This was a result of nativism and the Immigration Restriction league. American's did not want Asians living in their country.
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Quality of Life of Immigrants in America

Once the Asians were admitted to the country, they had difficulty finding a place to live, getting a job, and assimilating into American culture. They were surrounded by new people who did not speak their language, share their culture, or practice their religion. Because of this, many Asians lived together and created Asian communities. They viewed themselves as Chinese-Americans.

"The Chinese Must Go!"

Strong anti-immigration resulted in the increase in immigrants. Americans did not like the Asians, they wanted them to go. They were afraid of losing their jobs to the Asians because Asians would accept lower wages. The depression of 1873 increased anti-Chinese sentiment in California. Work was scarce, and labor groups exerted political pressure on the government to restrict Asian immigration.

Denis Kearney led the anti-Chinese movement in California as the leader of the Workingmens Party. He ended each of his speeches with "The Chinese must go!"

In 1882, Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act. This act banned entry to all Chinese except students, teachers, tourists, merchants, and government officials. This restriction was not lifted until 1943.


Danzer, Gerald A. The Americans: Reconstruction to the 21st Century. Evanston, IL: McDougal Littell, 2005. Print.