Aug 21, 2022
During a show four years ago, Hoosier History Live explored the connections between Indiana and Ellis Island, the gateway to America for generations of immigrants. The receiving center for aspiring Americans in New York Harbor opened in 1892 during the administration of President Benjamin Harrison, the only president elected from Indiana.
As a kind of prequel to that show, we will delve into the immigration scenario that led the federal government to open Ellis Island, including controversies at its predecessor, Castle Garden on lower Manhattan in New York City. The country’s first official immigration center, Castle Garden was operated by New York officials.
We also will explore the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which Harrison opposed as a U.S. senator from Indiana. The Chinese Exclusion Act, which suspended the immigration of skilled and unskilled Chinese laborers, passed without Harrison’s support. According to Nelson’s guest, Harrison was labeled the “pro-Chinese candidate" of the Republican Party in his presidential campaign of 1888.