Document Type


Publication Date



In 1892, the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association in San Francisco urged the resident Chinese community to ignore a federal law. The United States Congress had just passed the Geary Act, which required all Chinese laborers living in the United States to register with the collector of internal revenue. Under the act, those who did not register would face arrest and likely deportation. The Benevolent Association, also known as the Six Companies," claimed that the act violated both the constitutional right to due process and treaty obligations with China. To combat the legislation, the association enlisted the assistance of the Chinese Legation to exert diplomatic pressure, retained leading attorneys to bring a test case to the Supreme Court, and-perhaps most dramatically- called on the resident Chinese community to risk deportation and participate in a massive campaign of civil disobedience.


Reproduced with permission. Work published when author not on Michigan Law faculty.