Card Illustrating Bret Harte's Poem, Plain Language from Truthful James

Card Illustrating Bret Harte's Poem, Plain Language from Truthful James

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In the 1870’s, white laborers considered the Chinese to be competition for jobs and sometimes responded with great hostility. Californians led the effort to prohibit further Chinese immigration, encouraging the passage of the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act. In 1871, Brett Harte wrote a poem, Plain Language from Truthful James, that rebuked a white card shark cheating a Chinese man. Intended to be a commentary on the prejudice against the Chinese, the poem was often misinterpreted as a condemnation of the Chinese.
Object Name
poem on card
date made
Harte, Bret
place made
United States: Illinois, Chicago
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
ink (overall material)
overall: 7 1/4 in x 5 1/2 in; 18.415 cm x 13.97 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of Nancy E. Davis
Chinese Americans
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Domestic Life
Many Voices, One Nation
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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