Despite exclusionary laws preventing U.S. citizenship, Asians served in the Union and Confederate armies and navies during the American Civil War (1861-1865). Many of these soldiers were denied citizenship following their services due to the anti-Asian sentiment, which culminated in the Naturalization Act of 1870 and the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. The exclusionary laws continued until 1943, and all restrictions on national origin or race were abolished in 1965. In April 2003, House Joint Resolution 45 was introduced to Congress to posthumously proclaim Civil War soldiers of Asian descent to be honorary citizens of the United States as recognition of their honorable services.
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The official roster of Civil War soldiers of the State of Ohio contains soldiers with Chinese surnames. Records of Asian soldiers are incomplete and difficult to find because many were denied pensions. Some adopted European names, non-Chinese names, or nicknames as their family names. Nonetheless, many Civil War soldiers of Asian descent have been identified and some have been confirmed in literature. Since the Civil War, Asian descendants have served our nation with loyalty in many wars, despite generations of exclusion and discrimination.