Introduction
The people of the State of California represented
in Senate and Assembly do enact as follows:
Section 1. It shall not be lawful from and after the time when this act takes
effect, to bring or land, from any ship, boat or vessel, into this State, any
Mongolian, Chinese or Japanese females, born either in the Empire of
China or Japan or in any of the Islands adjacent to the Empire of China,
without first presenting to the Commissioner of Immigration evidence
satisfactory to him, that such female desires voluntarily to come into this
State, and is a person of correct habits and good character, and thereupon
obtaining from such Commissioners of Immigration, a license or permit
particularly describing such female and authorizing her importation or
immigration.—an act to prevent the kidnapping and importa-
tion of mongolian, chinese, and japanese females, for crimi-
nal and demoralizing purposes (Approved, 18 March 1870)
In 1834, the American Museum in New York put Afong Moy on public
display under the billing of “Chinese Lady.”
1 The marked turn from a
curious look at an imported spectacle to a legislative measure to stave off
an unseemly throng of immigrating females suggests several significant
shifts in the intervening thirty-six years. First, in contrast to the temporary
rarity of Afong Moy, the 1870 act presupposes and indeed attempts to re-
spond to an invasive plurality that would more permanently inhabit the so-
cial geography. In addition to the earlier specification of “Chinese,” an en-
larged litany merges into one suspect category not only “Mongolian” and
“Japanese” but also those ambiguously identified as “born in any of the Is-
lands adjacent to the Empire of China.” This clustering predates by almost
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