The Angell Treaty of November 17, 1880 was a renegotiation of the Burlingame Treaty. suspending but not prohibiting Chinese immigration, while confirming the obligation of the United States to protect the rights of those immigrants already arrived.


This re-negotiation was  Signed by President Chester Arthur. On Nov. 28, 1880.

President Arthur preempts


California’s attempt to




Chinese Immigration.


In 1868, the United States and China had signed the Burlingame Treaty, which secured unrestricted Chinese immigration to America. The United States had welcomed Chinese immigrants when the West Coast badly needed workers, and the labor those immigrants provided played a major role in the construction of the first transcontinental railroad.


During the 1870s, however, unemployment and the Great Railroad Strike in 1877 had greatly created anti-Chinese sentiment in the West.

So, Congress passed an exclusion act in 1878 that was designed to limit Chinese immigration by prohibiting any ships from carrying more than fifteen Chinese immigrants to the United States. Considering the law to be a violation of the Burlingame Treaty, President Rutherford B. Hayes vetoed the measure. The President recognized, however, that support for immigration restrictions was considerable. Hayes later sent John T. Swift, W. H. Trescot, and James B. Angell to China to negotiate a new treaty.

In the meantime, in 1879, California adopted a new Constitution, which explicitly authorized the state government to determine which individuals were allowed to reside in the state, and banned the Chinese from employment by corporations and state, county or municipal governments Once the Federal Chinese Exclusion Act was finally passed in 1882, California went further by passing additional laws.

However, California’s actions were later held to be unconstitutional. Immigration was held to be a federal matter.

On November 17, 1880, the United States signed a treaty with China that gave the United States power to "regulate, limit, or suspend" but not completely prohibit Chinese immigration.

The treaty also included a clause banning the opium trade and granted China trading privileges with the United States.

China was under significant pressure at the time. Local reformers and European powers occupied the Chinese government's attention. In negotiations with the United States, the Chinese only objected to a complete prohibition of immigration. The treaty instead gave the United States the right to limit, but not completely prohibit, immigration. President Hayes was no longer in office when the new treaty was ratified in 1881. However, the agreement proved inadequate to satisfy West Coast demands. Pressure from the West Coast and labor organizations such as the Knights of Labor resulted in the passage of a Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882 stipulating a twenty-year ban on immigration. After President Chester Arthur vetoed the measure, Congress passed a ten-year ban that received his approval.