Close window Timeline
previous entrynext entry

Are “Louisiana Manila men” Americans?
Filipino sailors, on vessels plying the Manila-Acapulco trade route, jump ship in the New World, eventually travel across the Gulf into Louisiana’s bayou country and settle there. These are the “Louisiana Manila men” with presence recorded as early as 1763. Filipinos, with 8-10 generations in the New World, are the oldest continuous Asian American settler community in North America.

Manila Village

However, the Naturalization Act of 1790 granted the right of U.S. citizenship only to all "free white persons." This exception to citizenship would not apply to them until after the 1803 Louisiana Purchase. Therefore, at the very outset of their long American presence, Filipinos become party to the keystone issue of American national identity:

Who qualifies to belong? Who is an American? Who will have the rights of an American? Are the "Louisiana Manila men" Americans?