This illustrated volume presents the history of the Chinese American experience of frequently begrudged inclusion and the reaction of virulent exclusion, from the role of Chinese tea in the American Revolution and the rich commercial and cultural interactions between China and the U.S., to an exploration of the practices and principles developed under Chinese Exclusion and their application to other cultural groups. This concise, illustrated history considers the legacy and lessons of this period in America's history through photography, documents and historical objects. The catalogue accompanied a major exhibition at the New-York Historical Society, September 26, 2014 - April 19, 2015.
From February 11, 2022, Our Composite Nation: Frederick Douglass' America shines a light on the late 1860s—at a moment of great hope for the promise of equality under the law. The famed orator and once-enslaved abolitionist Frederick Douglass took his “Our Composite Nation” speech on the road to argue for a plural American democracy, especially calling out the need to include Chinese American immigrants. The mission of this new nation, he declared, was to provide the world “a composite, perfect illustration of the unity of the human family.” For what was the U.S., he said, but “the most conspicuous example of composite nationality in the world?” This special installation features artifacts, images, and a theatrical design that bring Douglass’ compelling speech to life and explores his vision of freedom, citizenship, and equal rights that remains urgently relevant today, as a hopeful plea for America to live up to its founding ideals.