Similar to many immigrant families, See's relatives and particularly her grandmother entered the USA at the end of 19th century. During this period of time, the state regarded the size of its population as the source of its wealth and power and, except in unusual situations, prohibited departure of its subjects. Nevertheless, during the major part of the nineteenth century the absorption of the immigrant into American society represented a moving equilibrium or a process of favorable accommodation of groups under rapidly changing conditions1. The vast open spaces, the lack of social and class distinctions, the dynamic tempo of our growth, the westward progression, and the mobility of the population promoted the acceptance of the newcomer2. In times of crisis such as wars or economic depressions the moving equilibrium might be disturbed. Immigrants' movements created tensions around the presence of the foreigner, but at least until the latter decades of the nineteenth century these tensions were usually dissolved by accommodation on a new level without restrictive legislation. The American Constitution made the United States the first national state to proclaim the principle that there should be no religious test for office holding. Furthermore, only the President was required by the Constitution to be native-born. The Federal government, as a matter of policy, utilized the principle of religious freedom to stimulate immigration. A guarantee of religious freedom had been included in the ordinance for governing the Northwest Territory, partly in the hope that it would stimulate migration into that region3.
Similar to other immigrants, See's grandmother and her family occupied a low paid job and low social class position4. She worked at a Chinese underwear factory. It is not surprising that the changes in American society after 1890 affected attitudes toward the immigrant and that a strong movement for the restriction of immigration should have gotten under way at this time5. Abused by her own family, See's grandmother reached for better days and a new life. Unlike to many immigrants, See's grandfather had two wives: "My family always "knew" that Fong See had two wives. The marriage between Fong see and Letticie Pruett - my Caucasian great grandmother - would go on establish the See name"6. East which were suffering from the depression opposed immigration, but representatives of the agricultural states declared themselves in favor of the continuance of immigration and expressed a preference for the "old" immigrants. The objections to the See were at first chiefly economic, namely, that they deprived white persons of employment7. The arguments, however, were soon stated in "racial" terms. Charges were made that the Chinese immigrants worshiped idols, that they did not know the difference between right and wrong, and that they were impregnable to all influences of Anglo-Saxon life. The campaign against the Chinese marked the first occasion when racialism was used as an argument for immigration restriction in history. It is worth noting that charges similar to those brought against the Chinese were later used against the immigrants from eastern and southern Europe. In general, Chinese immigration thus became a major political question, and exclusion was advocated by both Republicans and Democrats, first in California, and then nationally. A temporary Chinese Exclusion Act was passed by Congress; this was in effect for