APAICS History Timeline

Explore the key moments that
defined the history of

From being granted voting rights in 1868 to holding some of the highest government offices in 2019, Asian Americans have come a long way in the political landscape of the United States. Scroll to explore some of the milestones in this journey.


Fourteenth Amendment ratified
Declared that all persons born or naturalized in the United States were citizens and that any state that denied or abridged the voting rights of males over teh age of 21 would be subject to proportional reductions in its representation in the U.S. House of Representatives. Read Full Article

Treaty of Trade, Consuls, and Emigration (Burlingame Treaty)
Amended previous agreements between the United States and China. outlined property rights, trade privileges, and emigration procedures.


Reciprocity Treaty of 1875
Permitted the duty-free importation of sugar and other products from the Hawaiian Islands to the United States. Enabled Americans to export duty-free products to Hawaii Read Full Article


Chinese Exclusion Act
Banned Chinese laborers from immigrating to the United States for 10 years and denied citizenship to all foreign-born Chinese. Read Full Article


Geary Act
Extended the Chinese Exclusion Act for 10 years and enabled the removal of Chinese immigrants who lived illegally in the United States. Read Full Article


Annexation of the Hawaiian Islands
Authorized the annexation of the Republic of Hawaii to the United States and outlined a civilian government. Prohibited Chinese immigration to the Hawaiian Islands and the mainland United Staes per the Chinese Exclusion Act and subsequent amendments. Read Full Article


Treaty of Paris
Formally concluded the Spanish-American War. Spain ceded Cuba, Guam, Puerto Rico, and portions of the West Indies to the United States. Spain also surrendered the Philippines to the United States for $20 million. Read Full Article


Hawaiian Organic Act
Designated Hawaii as an incorporated territory and granted U.S. citizenship to citizens of Hawaii. Designated a Territorial Delegate to Congress. Read Full Article

Convention to Adjust the Question Between the United States, Germany, and Great Britain in Respect to the Samoan Islands
Partitioned the jurisdiction of certain Samoan Islands between the United States, Great Britain, and Germany. Read Full Article


Philippine Organic Act
Established a territorial government for the Philippine Islands. Authorized the creation of a presidentially appointed Philippine commission and a popularly elected Philippine assembly. Created two Resident Commissioner positions in the U.S. House of Representatives for the Philippines. Read Full Article


Jonah Kubio Kalanianaole assumes office as US Delegate from Hawaii
First prince elected to US Congress


Executive Order 589
Enabled the Secretary of Commerce and Labor to restrict Japanese and/or Korean laborers from entering the continental United States and U.S. territories. Read Full Article


Payne-Aldrich Tariff Act
Lowered duties to a general level of 38 percent while making sizable cuts on certain duties. Established a tariff board to advise the President and U.S. Court of Custom Appeals. Read Full Article

Philippine Tariff Act
Established duties on products imported to the Philippines. Read Full Article


An Act Providing for the Quadrennial Election of the Members of the Philippine Assemly and Resident Commissioners to the United States
Extended terms of service for Philippine assembly members and Resident Commissioners from two to four years. Read Full Article


Underwood-Simmons Act (Revenue Act of 1913)
Reduced the average duty rate from 38 percent to less than 30 percent. Reduced duties on many items and expanded free list. Enabled the President to negotiate reciprocal agreements. Established a comprehensive federal income tax. Read Full Article


Jones Act of 1916
Established a more autonomous Philippine government by providing for a popularly elected bicameral legislature. Reduced Resident Commissioners' terms from four years to three. Read Full Article


Immigration Act of 1917
Increased entry restrictions for foreigners who immigrated to the United States. Prohibited immigration from specific regions of Asia and required a literacy test. Read Full Article


Emergency Quota Act
Limited the number of immigrants entering the United States to 3 percent of the foreign-born population listed in the 1910 Census. Read Full Article


William P. Jarrett assumes office as US Delegate from Hawaii
Elected delegate to US Congress from Hawaii.


Immigration Act of 1924
Lowered annual immigration quotas of all foreign nationalities living in the United States by 2 percent based on population determined by the 1890 Census. Read Full Article


Victor S.K. Houston assumes office as US Delegate from Hawaii
Elected delegate to US Congress from Hawaii.


Hare-Hawes-Cutting Act of 1932
Provided for complete independence of the Philippines following a 10-year transitional period if approved by the Philippine government. Reduced the number of Resident Commissioners from two to one, appointed by the Philippine government. Read Full Article


Tydings-McDuffie Act
Provided for complete independence of the Philippines following a 10-year transitional period if approved by the Philippine government and contingent upon the adoption of a Philippine constitution within two years of the legislation enactment. Also capped Philippine immigration to the United States at 50 persons per year. Read Full Article

Jones-Costigan Act (Sugar Act of 1934)
Amended quotas and taxes on different kinds of sugar. Prohibited the importation and processing of sugars from insular territories. Read Full Article


Nationality Act of 1940
Defined nationality at birth in the mainland United States and in U.S. territories. Revised eligibility requirements for naturalization. Read Full Article


Executive Order 9066
Enabled the Secretary of War and military commanders to designate military areas and control access of U.S. citizens or residents to those areas. Those living within the areas were subject to any and all rules imposed by military authorities. Read Full Article

Executive Order 9102
Authorized the formation of a War Relocation Authority in the Executive Office of the President. Designated a director to create and carry out removal and relocation of Japanese Americans and Japanese immigrants from military areas as defined by Executive Order 9066. Read Full Article


War Brides Act
Enabled honorably discharged U.S. military personnel to bring foreign spouses and children to the United States if they applied for admission within three years of the act's passage and met necessary requirements. Read Full Article


Philippine Rehabilitation Act
Established a presidentially appointed war commission to review damage claims and award compensation for damages that occurred during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines. Allocated $120 million for infrastructure. Read Full Article

Philippine Trade Act
Established trade relations between the United States and the Republic of the Philippines by providing for a graduated introduction of customs duties. Prescribed duty-free quotas on certain items. Read Full Article


The Trusteeship Agreement for the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands
Authorized President Harry S. Truman's trusteeship agreement with the United Nations. Supported educational, political, and economic development of the South Pacific Territories obtained from the Japanese after World War II. Deemed administration of Guam and American Samoa interrelated. Read Full Article


Displaced Persons Act of 1948
Authorized the admission of European refugees displaced by World War II to the United States for two years after its enactment based on the quotas stated in the Immigration Act of 1924. Read Full Article


Internal Security Act
Provided for the registration and possible internment of communist sympathizers or anyone suspected of subversive activities and exclusion as inadmissible aliens. Read Full Article

Guam Organic Act
Transferred Guam federal jurisdiction from U.S. Navy to Department of Interior. Granted U.S. citizenship to Guam's residents and established a three-branch structure of government. Read Full Article


Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952
Retained the national origins quota system, but repealed the exclusion of Asian immigrants. Read Full Article


Refugee Relief Act
Authorized the annual admission of more than 200,000 refugees from anywhere in the world to the United States beyond the established quota numbers per the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952. Read Full Article


Hawaii Statehood Admission Act
Provided official statehood in the United States and for the formal ratification of the state constitution adopted by Hawaiians on November 7, 1950. Read Full Article


Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965
Superseded the Immigration Act of 1924 by eliminating the national origins quota system. Initiated a new preference system with annual numerical ceilings for immigrants. Read Full Article


Indochina Migration and Refugee Assistance Act of 1975
Provided relocation and resettlement aid for immigrants who left Southeast Asia and were unable to return to their home countries. Read Full Article


Introduction of Pacific/Asian Heritage Week to the House of Representatives
Representative Frank Horton (R-NY) and Norman Y. Mineta (D-CA) introduce Pacific/Asian Heritage Week (House Resolution 540) in the House of Representatives, which calls upon the President to proclaim the first ten days of May as Pacific/Asian Heritage Week. Read Full Article

Introduction of Pacific/Asian Heritage Week to the Senate
Senators Daniel Inouye and Spark Matsunaga introduce SJ Res. 72 into the Senate, similar to legislation introduced by Frank Horton and Norman Mineta in the House. Read Full Article


House Representatives pass legislation for Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week for the following year
House Representatives pass legislation to proclaim an Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week next year in May. This proclamation must be obtained yearly because the final joint Resolution did not contain an annual designation. Read Full Article

President Jimmy Carter signs the Joint Resolution for Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week
Read Full Article

Delegate to the House of Representatives from American Samoa
Created a nonvoting Delegate position in the U.S. House of Representatives for American Samoa. Read Full Article


Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians Act
Reviewed the implementation of Executive Order 9066 and its impact on U.S. citizens and permanent resident aliens. The commission reviewed U.S. military directives that required the relocation and/or detention of Japanese Americans, Japanese resident aliens, and permanent resident aliens of the Aleutian and Pribilof Islands. Read Full Article

Refugee Act of 1980
Established a federal office to process refugees for U.S. settlement and expanded the term "refugee" to include anyone in the world who fled his or her original country to avoid persecution based on race, religion, or political alignment. Created special category for asylum seekers. Increased the numerical ceiling for immigrants entering the United States. Read Full Article


Amerasian Immigration Act
Permits Amerasian children- children with American fathers- born in Southeast Asia between 1950 and 1982 to immigrate to the United States upon a guarantee by an American sponsor. Read Full Article


Civil Liberties Act passed
The Civil Liberties Act produced an official apology from Federal government for World War II Japanese internment program and offered compensation to victims. Read Full Article

Appropriations Act for the Fiscal Year 1988
Authorized executive branch agencies to maintain admission and protection programs for Indochinese refugees in the border regions of Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand. Read Full Article


President George Bush declares May Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
Asian Pacific American leaders around the country gathered at the White House to witness the signing of a proclamation by George Bush, declaring May to be Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Read Full Article


President Bush signed a proclamation designating May 1991 and May 1992 as “Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.”
Read Full Article


President Bush signed legislation in to law to designate May of each year as “Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.”
The law (HR 5572), introduced by Rep. Frank Horton (R-NY) and Norman Mineta (D-CA) was approved unanimously by the House of Representatives and the Senate during the 102nd Congress. Read Full Article


Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008
Created a nonvoting Delegate in the U.S. House of Representatives for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Read Full Article