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Early American Immigration

Early American Immigration

James G. Blaine in Early American Immigration

James G. Blaine (1830-1893) was a prominent Republican politician of the late nineteenth century. He represented Maine in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives (where he was Speaker), and also served twice as Secretary of State. He was the Republican nominee for president in 1884, but lost the election to Democrat Grover Cleveland.

In 1879, Blaine became the first powerful easterner to embrace the California political issue of Chinese Exclusion; his support would prove crucial in the eventual passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. "The question in my mind lies thus," Blaine said, justifying his position. "Either the Anglo-Saxon race will possess the Pacific slope or the Mongolians will possess it. We have this day to choose... whether our legislation shall be in the interest of the American free laborer or for the servile laborer from China... You cannot work a man who must have beef and bread, and would prefer beer, alongside of a man who can live on rice." Blaine was the first prominent Republican to endorse Chinese Exclusion, his position shocking many since martyred Republican hero Abraham Lincoln had been a strong opponent of the politics of nativism during his lifetime.

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