The makers of a dishwashing fluid in 1886 capitalized on anti-Asian sentiment. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was driven by racist theories of ethnic superiority and some concerns about Chinese competing for American jobs. Eugenics was on the rise and taken quite seriously. A report from a congressional committee explained that there was “not sufficient brain capacity in the Chinese race to furnish motive power for self-government” and that “there is no Aryan or European race which is not far superior to the Chinese.”
The law banned immigration from China and decreed that those currently legally in the country could never become citizens. “We have this day to choose whether we will have for the Pacific coast the civilization of Christ or the civilization of Confucius,” said Senator James Blaine of Maine in 1879. Immigration policy affected religious liberty by keeping out people with non-Christian faiths. That all changed with the Immigration Act of 1965.