The Year Was 1882

Thomas Edison (from LOC Photo Collection at Ancestry.com)The year was 1882 and the United States passed several new laws regarding immigration, the first of which was the Chinese Exclusion Act. The legislation blocked the immigration of Chinese “skilled and unskilled laborers and Chinese employed in mining” and only allowed entry to non-laborers who could be certified by the Chinese government that they were qualified to immigrate. It also required Chinese immigrants who left the U.S. to obtain certification in order to reenter.

The second piece of legislation, passed in August of 1882, further excluded “lunatics, idiots, and persons likely to become a public charge.” A fifty cent passenger tax on each person entering U.S. ports was enacted to defray the cost of immigration regulation. 

These restrictions came at a time when the Jewish population began leaving Russia in response to the newly enacted “May Laws” of 1882. The May Laws restricted Jewish settlement, forcing many from their homes, and made it illegal to conduct business on Sundays and Christian holidays.

In New York City, Thomas Edison opened a power station on Pearl Street. The station, which provided electricity to one square mile in Manhattan, was the start of the electric utility industry, and its success increased the demand for electricity.

Newly emerging technology took a hit in November as a solar storm wreaked havoc on the telegraph industry, causing delays in the transaction of business. The New York Times of 18 November 1882 reported that “from 9 am until noon, telegraph business east of the Mississippi and north of Washington was at a stand-still . . . An aurora borealis was the first evidence of the overcharging of the atmosphere with electric fluid.”  Transmissions from Europe were also affected, as was the newly developed telephone system.

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One thought on “The Year Was 1882

  1. As I came to this page, my questions was answered. I was wondering if past articles were archived, and I see that they are. GREAT!!!

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