Congress authorized construction of the Transcontinental Railroad in 1862, during the upheavals of the Civil War, intending that this major infrastructural project would cement the connection between the eastern and western halves of the United States at a time when the north and south were at war. Labor shortages delayed the project by years, a serious problem that was resolved when the Central Pacific Railroad began recruiting Chinese workers, eventually in numbers reaching well over ten thousand at a time. The U.S. government sought to secure access to Chinese workers, many of whom worked on three-year contracts, despite Chinese laws banning emigration by Chinese. The Burlingame Treaty was the first international agreement signed since the Opium War (1839-42) that dealt with Chinese on equal terms and secured the rights of Chinese to free immigration and travel within the United States and most favored nation status in trade.
Treaty signed at Washington July 28, 1868, supplementing treaty of June 18, 1858; Senate advice and consent to ratification, with amendments, July 24, 1868; Ratified by the President of the United States October 19, 1868
Ratified by China November 23, 1869; Ratification exchanged at Peking November 23, 1869; Entered into force November 23, 1869; Proclaimed by the President of the United States February 5, 1870 . . . .
- ARTICLE V
- The United States of America and the Emperor of China cordially recognize the inherent and inalienable right of man to change his home and allegiance, and also the mutual advantage of the free migration and emigration of their citizens and subjects respectively from the one country to the other, for purposes of curiosity, of trade, or as permanent residents. The high contracting parties, therefore, join in reprobating any other than an entirely voluntary emigration for these purposes. They consequently agree to pass laws making it a penal offence for a citizen of the United States or Chinese subjects to take Chinese subjects either to the United States or to any other foreign country, or for a Chinese subject or citizen of the United States to take citizens of the United States to China or to any other foreign country, without their free and voluntary consent respectively.
Citizens of the Untied States visiting or residing in China shall enjoy the same privileges, immunities or exemptions in respect to travel or residence as may there be enjoyed by the citizens or subjects of the most favored nation, and, reciprocally, Chinese subjects visiting or residing in the United States shall enjoy the same privileges, immunities and exemptions in respect to travel or residence as may there be enjoyed by the citizens or subjects of the the most favored nation. But nothing herein contained shall be held to confer naturalization upon citizens of the United States in China, nor upon the subjects of China in the United States.
- ARTICLE VII
- Citizens of the United States shall enjoy all the privileges of the public educational institutions under the control of the government of China, and reciprocally, Chinese subjects shall enjoy all the privileges of the public educational institutions under the control of the government of the United States, which are enjoyed in the respective countries by the citizens or subjects of the most favored nation. The citizens of the United States may freely establish and maintain schools within the Empire of China at those places where foreigners are by treaty permitted to reside, and, reciprocally, Chinese subjects may enjoy the same privileges and immunities in the United States.