Preface to Samuel E. W. Becker's "Humors of a Congressional Investigating Committee: A Review of the Report of the Joint Special Committee to Investigate Chinese Immigration"

This preface offers a brief overview and explanation of Samuel E. W. Becker's review article concerning Chinese immigration to the U.S., "Humors of a Congressional Investigating Committee."


         The writer of the following article, brother to the Roman Catholic Bishop of Wilmington, Del., had occasion after reading the report of the Committee on Chinese Immigration to write an article for the Catholic World on an entirely different subject, in which, however, he took occasion to say that in his opinion Catholics if as represented they joined as a body in hounding down the Chinese were doing not only a wrong but an impolitic thing.

         That article excited considerable talk, and letters have been received at the office of the World both from those who liked and those who disliked the merely incidental mention of opinion therein made.

         Having passed some time in California Mr. Becker naturally felt a strong interest in her doings, and after reading with great care the testimony in the above mentioned Report wrote this article, intending it for publication in the North American Review, but the columns of that magazine being pre-engaged for the next two issues, and as its publication after that time would be too late to do much good, it was sent to the present editor, who has thought best to issue it in this form, believing its publication calculated to do good, especially among co-religionists of Mr. Becker.

         Mr. Becker has written hitherto solely on ecclesiastical matters. He gives this as his contribution to the cause of right against foul oppression. The circumstances that caused him to examine the question and write this article were simply these: Among other books and documents sent out by Senator Bayard was the “Report on Chinese Immigration.” Mr. Becker had but the general idea which every conscientious man does and every educated man should entertain, i. e., a stern opposition to the abuse and oppression of the helpless, and an unswerving belief in the sacredness of treaty obligations. He has from 1862 to 1866 spent considerable time in California, Utah, Idaho and Nevada, where his observation had been very favorable to the Chinese and of a different sort with regard to their oppressors. Taking up the book rather with a view of seeing again some of the names that had once been familiar to him in California he found occasion to join issue with some views expressed by Rev. Messrs. Gibson, Brier, &c., and in the article in the Catholic World of February controverted these views. In the exordium he merely stated that if true, as asserted, that the Catholics sided with might against right on the subject, they deserved to be and would yet be lashed with whips of scorpions. It was merely a casual remark, but the editor of the World received any quantity of letters deprecating any such statement as in the highest degree impolitic, affirming that the writer did not know what he was talking about, &c., &c., usque ad nauseam.

         Thereupon he read the whole Report, striving to discriminate the true and pertinent from the false and irrelevant, became fully convinced where the truth lay, talked the matter over with Bishop Becker—corresponded with Senator Bayard on the subject, and put on paper the result.

         And we commend it to the careful consideration of every Christian and Patriot.


Samuel E. W. Becker, Humors of a Congressional Investigating Committee (n.p, 1877).