Chicago Tribune -- February 18, 1881Naturalizing Chinamen
Wong Ching Foo yesterday afternoon led a delegation of his fellow-countrymen over to the Criminal Court for the purpose of making citizens of them, but did not succeed to any great extent. They gave their names as Moy Yee, Moy Sam, and Moy Hong Kee, and their leader commenced operations by halting at the clerk's office and having the latter declare his intention to become a citizen. This was very simple, from the fact that when he came to this country he was over age, and was soon attended to, there being no law against any on making such a declaration. But with the others the situation was different. They had come here under 10 years of age, and bed to go to the court direct and without any preliminaries.
It was something unusual to see such a procession file into the court-room, and all eyes were upon them as they presented themselves before Judge Moran and asked his attention.2
The wheels of justice stopped for a moment, and Foo made known his mission in tolerable English and passed to the Judge the necessary petition, as he thought to make full-fledged citizens of his companions. Such an application was new to his Honor, and, the authorities differing upon the power of the Courts to confer the rights of citizenship upon Chinamen, he scanned the paper hastily and proceeded to make the necessary examination in such cases. Foo acted as the interpreter. They testified to having come here under age, etc., and upon being asked what they thought of our institutions one responded that he liked the country better than he did China, and the other that he "liked America's peculiarities very much", which sent a laugh around the room.
Judge Moran finally told them that he would take their applications under advisement, and asked them to call again in about a week and he would pass upon the case.3
The question of the power of Courts in such cases is a constitutional one, and there have been numerous decisions both pro and con. In the United States Court of San Francisco, some time ago, it was decided that a Chinaman could not become a citizen, and prior to this, a New York, Judge had passed upon the same question and come to the same conclusion. The question is not a new one in this city, for it has arisen before, and whether Chinamen can or cannot be made citizens, the fact is that more than one of our basement laundries almond-eyed individuals armed with just as much power as any other voting individual has who came here from abroad before reaching age.
There are said to be at least two such "citizens", and Judge Gary is credited with having given them their papers several years ago.
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