Madame Chiang’s Influence on America


What many people do not recognize is Madame Chiang Kai-shek’s importance in local Chinese American history (obituary, Oct. 24-25). When Madame Chiang toured the U.S. in 1943, one of her stops was in Los Angeles, where she spoke to a capacity crowd at the Hollywood Bowl. Another historical note is that Madame Chiang was the first non-head of state to address both houses of Congress as well as the second woman to do so. Her triumphant tour in the U.S. for aid to China’s war efforts against the Japanese resulted in tremendous financial support not only from the Chinese community but from the mainstream as well. In March 1943 her picture graced the cover of Time magazine for the second time, the first being with her husband, Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, in 1938. She gave visibility to the Chinese in America and dispelled much of the prejudices of the “yellow peril” of that period. Her call for the repeal of the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act was significant; Congress passed the Magnuson Act in December 1943, which abolished it.

Ann Lau