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Immigration to the USA: 1860-1890

Immigration to the USA: 1860-1890

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Until the middle of the 19th century, immigrants had been arriving at a slowly increasing rate: 8,385 in 1820; 23,322 in 1830; and 84,066 in 1840. The 2,081,61 that arrived in the 1860's had increased to 5,248,568 in the 1880's.

Developments in technology also increased the number of people from Europe going to the United States. Sailing ships took six weeks to cross the Atlantic. The use of steam powered boats reduced this to two weeks and by the 1870s the fastest ships could make the journey in eight days.

Most of the early immigrants came from from northern and western Europe. This included large numbers from Germany, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, England, Scotland and Wales. After 1880 they mainly came from countries in southern and eastern Europe such as Italy, Greece and Russia.

The main attraction of the United states for the early immigrants was the abundance of cheap or free land. Most of this had now gone and the main desire was for the high wages being paid in in the industrial cities. By the end of the Civil War half the residents of New York and Chicago were foreign born.


Global Timeline

The Homestead Act of 1862 allows for any individual, regardless of gender, ethnicity, or country of origin, over the age of 21 or head of household to claim up to 160 acres of free land if they have lived on it for five years and made the required agricultural improvements.

African American
The Union Army permits black men to enlist as laborers, cooks, teamsters, and servants.

Congress legalizes the importation of contract laborers.

Native American
Thousands of Navajo Indians endure the "Long Walk," a three-hundred mile forced march from a Southwest Indian territory to Fort Sumner, New Mexico.

African American
The 14th Amendment of the Constitution endows African Americans with citizenship.

Native American
A clause in the 14th Amendment "excluding Indians not taxed" prevents Native-American men from receiving the right to vote.

Japanese laborers arrive in Hawaii to work in sugar cane fields.

Polish & Russian
Russia's May Laws severely restrict the ability of Jewish citizens to live and work in Russia. The country's instability prompts more than three million Russians to immigrate to the United States over three decades.

The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 suspends immigration of Chinese laborers under penalty of imprisonment and deportation.

Immigration Act of 1924 establishes fixed quotas of national origin and eliminates Far East immigration.

Native American
President Calvin Coolidge signs a bill granting Native Americans full citizenship.

Japan's surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii galvanizes America's war effort. More than 1,000 Japanese-American community leaders are incarcerated because of national security.

African American
President Roosevelt signs Executive Order 8802, forbidding discrimination in federal hiring, job-training programs, and defense industries. The newly created Fair Employment Practices Commission investigates discrimination against black employees.

President Franklin Roosevelt signs Executive Order 9066, authorizing the building of "relocation camps" for Japanese Americans living along the Pacific Coast.

Congress allows for importation of agricultural workers from within North, Central, and South America. The Bracero Program allows Mexican laborers to work in the U.S.

The United States admits persons fleeing persecution in their native lands allowing 205,000 refugees to enter within two years.

The Supreme Court rules that California's Alien Land Laws prohibiting the ownership of agricultural property violates the Constitution's 14th Amendment.

The Immigration and Nationality Act allows individuals of all races to be eligible for naturalization. The act also reaffirms national origins quota system, limits immigration from the Eastern Hemisphere while leaving the Western Hemisphere unrestricted, establishes preferences for skilled workers and relatives of U.S. citizens and permanent resident aliens and tightens security and screening standards and procedures.

Native American
The Bureau of Indian Affairs begins selling 1.6 million acres of Native American land to developers.

The Immigration Act of 1965 abolishes quota system in favor of quota systems with 20,000 immigrants per country limits. Preference is given to immediate families of immigrants and skilled workers.

Cuban & Puerto Rican
"Freedom flight" airlifts begin for Cuban refugees assisting more than 260,000 people over the next eight years.

The Bracero Program ends after temporarily employing almost 4.5 million Mexican nationals.

US Immigration Trends 1880 - 1900

Late 1800's US Immigration Trends : 1880 - 1900
Th is article provides facts, history, statistics and information about US immigration trends in the late 1800's, specifically 1880 - 1900. The government policy and laws changed according to the situation and important events such as the emergence of Big Business and corporations, the impact of the Second Industrial Revolution and Urbanization in America, the origin of the migrants and the effects of the depression.

Late 1800's US Immigration Trends : US Immigration Flow 1880 - 1900
US Immigration Trends in the late1880's: The immigration flow into the United States 1880 - 1900 is detailed in the following chart.

Late 1800's US Immigration Flow: 1880 - 1900

1881 - 1890: 5,246,613 immigrants arrived in the US

1891 - 1900 : 3,687,564 immigrants arrived in the US

Summary of Late 1800's US Immigration Trends
US Immigration Trends in the late 1800's : The following chart provides a summary of the US Immigration Trends between 1880 and 1910

Summary of Late 1800's US Immigration Trends: 1880 - 1900

Trends 1880 - 1900 : The majority of arrivals were from Eastern and Southern Europe and Asia

Trends 1880 - 1900: The Second Industrial Revolution led to the mechanization of industry, the factory system and Urbanization in America

Trends 1880 - 1900: Immigrants were attracted to the cities which led population explosion in American cities

Trends 1880 - 1900: Immigration was encouraged by Big Businesses but workers protested at the number of migrants

Trends 1880 - 1900: The government passed laws restricting immigration and opened Ellis Island

Trends 1880 - 1900: The 4 year depression in the 1890's led to civil unrest and increased prejudice against migrants

Late 1800's US Immigration Trends 1880 - 1900: The Rise of Big Business and Corporations
The New technology, inventions and innovations of the era provided entrepreneurs with the opportunity to create the massive organizations so bringing about the rise of Big Business and Corporations. The new businesses encouraged immigration as a resource for cheap, unskilled labor.

Late 1800's US Immigration Trends 1880 - 1900: Urbanization in America
The US Immigration Trends in the late 1800's were heavily influenced by the factory system that led to Urbanization in America. In 1840 the United States had only 131 cities by 1900 that number had risen to over 1,700. A massive influx of unskilled immigrants flocked to the industrial cities to start their new life in America. Poor immigrants formed ethnic enclaves in America's cities where members of minority groups lived. There was a population explosion in the cities. By 1890 the population of New York City approached 2 million and 42% of the inhabitants were foreign born. The unskilled immigrants lived in the cheap, crowded conditions in the towns and cities and faced discrimination in the workplace from native workers.

Late 1800's US Immigration Trends : The Migrants
Northern European migrants migrated to the industrial centers of the United States and the period also saw the arrival of migrants from southern and eastern Europe, China, Japan and other Asian countries. I n the 1880's, larger and faster steam powered ships, with lower fares became available to immigrants. Sailing ships had taken up to 3 months travel to America whereas steam powered ships reduced the time to 3 weeks. In the 1880's the number of Italian immigrants to the U.S. totaled 600,000. By 1920 more than 4 million migrants from Italy had entered the United States. Immigration also soared due to religious persecution when over one million Jews fled from different countries in Eastern Europe to the United States. The number of immigrants arriving during this period led rising wave of Nativism which was fueled by labor unions who feared that immigrants would work for lower wages than Americans or would become strike-breakers, undermining American workers.

US Immigration Trends 1880 - 1900: US Immigration Laws
US Immigration Trends declined in the 1890's due to government laws to restrict immigration. In 1892 the government passed the Chinese Exclusion Act and banned the immigration of all unskilled laborers from China for 10 years, and was extended by another ten years in 1892. In the same year the 1882 Immigration Act restricted immigrants from Europe, made several categories of immigrants ineligible for entry into the U.S. and imposed a 'head tax' of 50 cents on all immigrants landing at US ports. The 1885 Alien Contract Labor Law prohibited any company from bringing unskilled foreigners into the United States under contract to work for them. The first Federal immigration center was opened on January 1, 1892 on Ellis Island where immigrants from Europe were subjected to medical and legal examinations.

Late 1800's US Immigration Trends for Kids, Schools and Homework

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Westward Expansion and Slavery

Meanwhile, the question of whether or not slavery would be allowed in the new western states shadowed every conversation about the frontier. In 1820, the Missouri Compromise had attempted to resolve this question: It had admitted Missouri to the union as a slave state and Maine as a free state, preserving the fragile balance in Congress. More important, it had stipulated that in the future, slavery would be prohibited north of the southern boundary of Missouri (the 36먰’ parallel) in the rest of the Louisiana Purchase.

However, the Missouri Compromise did not apply to new territories that were not part of the Louisiana Purchase, and so the issue of slavery continued to fester as the nation expanded. The Southern economy grew increasingly dependent on “King Cotton” and the system of forced labor that sustained it. Meanwhile, more and more Northerners came to believed that the expansion of slavery impinged upon their own liberty, both as citizens–the pro-slavery majority in Congress did not seem to represent their interests𠄺nd as yeoman farmers. They did not necessarily object to slavery itself, but they resented the way its expansion seemed to interfere with their own economic opportunity.

Immigration Records: Scottish Immigrants to North America, 1600s-1800s

This resource contains immigration records for approximately 70,000 Scottish immigrants to the United States and Canada. Extracted from a great variety of sources both in North America and Scotland, the information collected here would otherwise be difficult to access. Records were compiled from private and public sources including passenger lists, newspapers, church records, land deeds, records of indenture, and oaths of allegiance.

Sources for this database:

  • The Original Scots Colonists of Early America, 1612-1783
    Before the Revolutionary War, approximately 150,000 Scots emigrated to America. In this work, David Dobson extracted data from a wide variety of private and public sources in Scotland and England. These sources include family and estate papers, testamentary and probate records, deed registers, Sheriff’s Court records, Court of Session and High Court of Judiciary records, port books, customs registers, diaries and journals, newspapers and magazines, professional and university records, Privy Council and colonial records, records of Episcopalian and Presbyterian churches, monumental inscription lists, and the 1774-75 Register of Emigrants. For each of the 7,000 individuals listed, you may be able to learn the following information: name, date of birth or baptism, place of birth, occupation, place of education, cause of banishment (where applicable), residence, parents’ names, emigration date and whether voluntarily or involuntarily transported, port of embarkation, destination, name of ship, place and date of arrival, place of settlement, names of spouse and children, date and place of death, where buried, probate record, and source citation.
  • The Original Scots Colonists Of Early America, Supplement, 1607-1707
    This supplement contains new information gleaned from recent research and information that expands upon Dobson’s earlier work. The original volume was based entirely on source material located in the United Kingdom, while this volume contains primary and secondary material from both the United Kingdom and the United States. The four main phases of Scottish immigration during the seventeenth century were: (1) Nova Scotia in the 1620s (2) New England and the Chesapeake mid-century (3) South Carolina in the mid-1680s and (4) East New Jersey, also in the mid-1680s. In total, approximately 4,000 Scots settled between Stuartstown, South Carolina and Port Royal, Nova before 1700. This supplement in combination with the earlier volume identifies virtually all of those 4,000 settlers.
  • The Original Scots Colonists, Caribbean Supplement, 1611-1700
    The Scottish connection with the Caribbean started in 1611 with the voyage to the West Indies of the Janet of Leith. It was not until after 1626, however, that Scots actually settled in the Caribbean. In 1627, King Charles I appointed a Scot, James Hay, Earl of Carlisle, as Governor of the Caribbees. This appointment led to a steady migration of Scots to Barbados and other islands. While there was a degree of voluntary emigration, the majority of the Scots in the West Indies arrived unwillingly. In 1654, Oliver Cromwell transported five hundred Scots prisoners-of-war. Felons or political undesirables, such as the Covenanters, were sent to the islands in chains directly from Scotland. In addition, the English Privy Council regularly received petitions from planters requesting Scottish indentured servants. Because of this, a steady stream of indentured servants sailed from Scottish and English ports to the West Indies. This supplement contains information that expands upon information found in Dobson’s earlier book The Original Scots Colonists of Early America, 1612-1783. Additionally, it contains completely new information gleaned from recent research. The material included in this supplement comes from both the United Kingdom and the United States. The Caribbean Supplement focuses on the period prior to 1707, the year marking the political union between England and Scotland. Once the Act of Union of 1707 eliminated restrictions on trade between Scotland and the American colonies, emigration to the West Indies increased rather substantially.

  • Directory Of Scottish Settlers In North America, 1625-1825 (7 Volumes)
    Volume I: Based on documents found in British archives and a handful of published sources, this work lists more than 5,000 Scottish emigrants who appear in ship passenger lists before 1825. It also has data on about 1,000 Scots who settled in North America between 1625 and 1825. The bulk of the immigrants listed here arrived in the United States or Canada between 1773 and 1815. While the information that you’ll find varies depending on the type of record, for the most part you’ll learn an individual’s age, date of birth, occupation, place of residence, family members, date and place of arrival, and circumstances of emigration.
  • Volume II: Unlike the first, this volume is based l argely on previously published material such as government serial publications, contemporary newspapers, periodical articles, and family histories. In addition, there is data from some previously unpublished ships’ passenger lists and documents in the Scottish Record Office in Edinburgh. At least half of the immigrants identified in this volume sailed to Canada or the West Indies initially, the rest arriving at ports in the coastal states of America. Among them were doctors, ministers, educators, indentured servants, transportees, merchants, and ordinary laborers. About 4,000 immigrants are listed. While the data provided varies according to the records used, generally, you’ll learn an individual’s age, date and place of birth, occupation, place of residence, names of spouse and children, date and place of arrival in North America, and death date.

Volume III: The data, from newspapers of the period, provides information on about 3,000 Scottish emigrants.

Volume IV: In this volume, Mr. Dobson introduces the researcher to little-known source materials — the Services of Heirs and the Register of Testaments of the Commissariat of Edinburgh. From the Services of Heirs he extracted all references to North American residents who inherited land in Scotland, and also to Americans who left land in Scotland. From the Register of Testaments he provided abstracts of the testaments of all North American residents who chose to have their wills registered in Edinburgh. All of this data serves to confirm a relationship between the inheritor and his ancestor.

Volume V: Two-thirds of the data in this volume, gleaned from Canadian and United States archives, regards those who settled in Ontario.

38c. The Rush of Immigrants

The Statue of Liberty &mdash a gift from France upon the United States' 100th anniversary &mdash welcomed immigrants from around the world to New York City.

Immigration was nothing new to America. Except for Native Americans, all United States citizens can claim some immigrant experience, whether during prosperity or despair, brought by force or by choice. However, immigration to the United States reached its peak from 1880-1920. The so-called " old immigration " brought thousands of Irish and German people to the New World.

This time, although those groups would continue to come, even greater ethnic diversity would grace America's populace. Many would come from Southern and Eastern Europe, and some would come from as far away as Asia. New complexions, new languages, and new religions confronted the already diverse American mosaic.

The New Immigrants

Almost every city in America is home to a Chinatown. This street scene is from New York City's Chinatown &mdash one of the biggest and best-known.

Most immigrant groups that had formerly come to America by choice seemed distinct, but in fact had many similarities. Most had come from Northern and Western Europe. Most had some experience with representative democracy. With the exception of the Irish, most were Protestant . Many were literate, and some possessed a fair degree of wealth.

The new groups arriving by the boatload in the Gilded Age were characterized by few of these traits. Their nationalities included Greek, Italian, Polish, Slovak, Serb, Russian, Croat, and others. Until cut off by federal decree, Japanese and Chinese settlers relocated to the American West Coast. None of these groups were predominantly Protestant.

The vast majority were Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox . However, due to increased persecution of Jews in Eastern Europe, many Jewish immigrants sought freedom from torment. Very few newcomers spoke any English, and large numbers were illiterate in their native tongues. None of these groups hailed from democratic regimes. The American form of government was as foreign as its culture.

The new American cities became the destination of many of the most destitute. Once the trend was established, letters from America from friends and family beckoned new immigrants to ethnic enclaves such as Chinatown , Greektown , or Little Italy . This led to an urban ethnic patchwork, with little integration. The dumbbell tenement and all of its woes became the reality for most newcomers until enough could be saved for an upward move.

Despite the horrors of tenement housing and factory work, many agreed that the wages they could earn and the food they could eat surpassed their former realities. Still, as many as 25% of the European immigrants of this time never intended to become American citizens. These so-called " birds of passage " simply earned enough income to send to their families and returned to their former lives.

Resistance to Immigration

The Stranger at Our Gate
Frank Beard 1896'>
Political cartoons sometimes played on Americans' fears of immigrants. This one, which appeared in a 1896 edition of the Ram's Horn, depicts an immigrant carrying his baggage of poverty, disease, anarchy and sabbath desecration, approaching Uncle Sam.

Not all Americans welcomed the new immigrants with open arms. While factory owners greeted the rush of cheap labor with zeal, laborers often treated their new competition with hostility. Many religious leaders were awestruck at the increase of non-Protestant believers. Racial purists feared the genetic outcome of the eventual pooling of these new bloods.

Gradually, these " nativists " lobbied successfully to restrict the flow of immigration. In 1882, Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act , barring this ethnic group in its entirety. Twenty-five years later, Japanese immigration was restricted by executive agreement. These two Asian groups were the only ethnicities to be completely excluded from America.

Criminals, contract workers, the mentally ill, anarchists, and alcoholics were among groups to be gradually barred from entry by Congress. In 1917, Congress required the passing of a literacy test to gain admission. Finally, in 1924, the door was shut to millions by placing an absolute cap on new immigrants based on ethnicity. That cap was based on the United States population of 1890 and was therefore designed to favor the previous immigrant groups.

But millions had already come. During the age when the Statue of Liberty beckoned the world's "huddled masses yearning to breathe free," American diversity mushroomed. Each brought pieces of an old culture and made contributions to a new one. Although many former Europeans swore to their deaths to maintain their old ways of life, their children did not agree. Most enjoyed a higher standard of living than their parents, learned English easily, and sought American lifestyles. At least to that extent, America was a melting pot .

Immigration 4 United States

WHAT ROLE HAS IMMIGRATION PLAYED IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE UNITED STATES AS A NATION Immigration is an event that has been occurring in the United States since the 1620 s when the Mayflower brought the Pilgrims to our country. Like the Pilgrims, many immigrants came to our nation looking for opportunities that their country could not provide for them. Through the years, immigration has played a key role in the development of our nation s economics and culture in both positive and negative ways. From Europe and Africa, from Canada and Asia, from Mexico and South America, people have come to the United States.

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Here they have found work, opened shops, raised families, built schools and churches, and formed social clubs and sporting teams. Their history illustrates the common experiences and the shared realities of all the immigrants who have worked, worshipped, lived and died, laughed, prospered and sometimes failed in our country. From the first settlements of the Quaker, Puritans, and Catholics, Americans have welcomed immigrants with opened arms. In the 1890-1910 s there was a need for cheap labor. Immigrants saw this need as a chance to search for a new life, and to start over with new religious freedoms and economic opportunities. In America s history, there have been many men who have helped our nation develop into what Americans live in today.

Without immigrants such as Alexander Graham Bell, Albert Einstein, and Samuel Slater many of the technological advantages such as the telephone, medicines, and factories we have today, would cease to exist. Thanks to immigrants, the United States continues to progress in many areas to make it the most successful nation in the world. Although most immigrants are an asset to our nation, there are those who effect this country in a negative way. When looking for a better way of life, some immigrants come to our country thinking that everything will be provided fo them, and in turn become burdens on our government.

The Essay on Immigration Paper Immigrants People Country

. strict limits on Immigration. Members of this party felt it was necessary that immigrants must be residents of the United States for 21 years . entering the country illegally. The nation is on the right track. They have created laws stating limitations of the privileges of immigrants, including welfare .

They bring their families, which consists of sons, daughter, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and even cousins, and try to acquire jobs. Although these people have good intentions, they are not always helpful to our country. Many immigrants lack the skill and knowledge necessary to maintain a job. Then, in order to survive and provide for their families, they result to welfare. It is hard enough for our government to provide for our native citizens, and yet these people who should reside somewhere else are draining our economy as well. Our nation wants to grow and prosper, but with unskilled and uneducated immigrants that continue to hinder our progress, we will never succeed.

Ethnic life in America was, and is still today, centered around the family. Immigrants and others saved their earnings to assist relatives in traveling to this country. On their arrival, families provided the newcomers with lodging, assistance in finding jobs, and critical emotional and moral support. The church had an important role in the ethnic community, helping immigrants and others adjust to the new area by providing religious guidance, running schools and organizing social activities. For the immigrants, churches represented a powerful link to the old country where religion and a sense of nationality were often closely related. Although it was hard coming in to a new nation as outcasts, these immigrants proved that they could provide for themselves in order to make it in the New World.

If they had not had the determination to motivate themselves to accomplish the goals they did, then the United States would lack the diversity and technological advances that it has today.

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Czechs and Slovaks Before World War I

A few Czech immigrants continued to arrive over the next two centuries after 1633. Following the failed 1848 revolutions in the Habsburg monarchy, the first sizable number of Czechs came to the United States, with a steady flow by the late 1850&rsquos, who usually came as family groups initially attracted by the lure of cheap land. Besides farming, by the turn of the century about one-half of Czech immigrants in America lived in urban settings, where they worked as small businessmen and as skilled and unskilled laborers. By the onset of World War I in 1914, approximately 350,000 highly skilled and mostly literate Czechs had settled in the United States.

The Slovaks began to immigrate to America in large numbers during the late 1870&rsquos to escape problems of overpopulation and unemployment at home. The overwhelming majority of these poorly educated agricultural workers found work as unskilled laborers in coal mines and heavy industry, especially steel mills, where, by 1909, about 10 percent of all iron- and steelworkers were Slovak. They usually came as single men expecting to earn enough money to return home and purchase land, prior to realizing the new economic benefits of America. By the 1880&rsquos, Slovak women began to arrive to satisfy the need for spouses, while married men either returned home or sent funds to bring their families to the United States. More than 60 percent of all Slovak immigrants returned at least once to the old country before the war. It is estimated that 650,000 Slovaks lived in the United States in 1914.

Both groups flourished in the United States. Wherever a community of Czechs and/or Slovaks could be found, thriving ethnic newspapers, fraternal and cultural clubs and organizations, and parishes arose. However, these entities remained separated along Roman Catholic and Freethinker lines for the Czechs, while the Slovaks were even more divided among Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Calvinists, and Byzantine-rite (Uniate or Greek-rite) Catholics.

Immigration from Czechoslovakia and the Czech and Slovak Republics, 1920-2008


The Chinese reached North America during the era of Spanish colonial rule over the Philippines (1565–1815), during which they had established themselves as fishermen, sailors, and merchants on Spanish galleons that sailed between the Philippines and Mexican ports (Manila galleons). California belonged to Mexico until 1848, and historians have asserted that a small number of Chinese had already settled there by the mid-18th century. Also later, as part of expeditions in 1788 and 1789 by the explorer and fur trader John Meares from Canton to Vancouver Island, several Chinese sailors and craftsmen contributed to building the first European-designed boat that was launched in Vancouver. [9]

Shortly after the American Revolutionary War, as the United States had recently begun transpacific maritime trade with Qing, Chinese came into contact with American sailors and merchants at the commercial port of Canton (Guangzhou). There, local individuals heard about opportunities and became curious about America. The main trade route between the United States and China then was between Canton and New England, where the first Chinese arrived via Cape Horn (the only route as the Panama Canal did not exist). These Chinese were mainly merchants, sailors, seamen, and students who wanted to see and acquaint themselves with a strange foreign land they had only heard about. However, their presence was mostly temporary and only a few settled permanently.

American missionaries in China also sent small numbers of Chinese boys to the United States for schooling. From 1818 to 1825, five students stayed at the Foreign Mission School in Cornwall, Connecticut. In 1854, Yung Wing became the first Chinese graduate from an American college, Yale University. [10]

First wave: the beginning of Chinese immigration Edit

In the 19th century, Sino–U.S. maritime trade began the history of Chinese Americans. At first only a handful of Chinese came, mainly as merchants, former sailors, to America. The first Chinese people of this wave arrived in the United States around 1815. Subsequent immigrants that came from the 1820s up to the late 1840s were mainly men. In 1834 Afong Moy became the first female Chinese immigrant to the United States she was brought to New York City from her home of Guangzhou by Nathaniel and Frederick Carne, who exhibited her as "the Chinese Lady". [11] [12] [13] By 1848, there were 325 Chinese Americans. 323 more immigrants came in 1849, 450 in 1850 and 20,000 in 1852 (2,000 in 1 day). [14] By 1852, there were 25,000 over 300,000 by 1880: a tenth of the Californian population—mostly from six districts of Canton (Guangdong) province (Bill Bryson, p. 143) [15] —who wanted to make their fortune in the 1849-era California Gold Rush. The Chinese did not, however, only come for the gold rush in California, but also helped build the First Transcontinental Railroad, worked Southern plantations after the Civil War, and participated in establishing California agriculture and fisheries. [16] [17] [18] Many were also fleeing the Taiping Rebellion that affected their region.

From the outset, they were met with the distrust and overt racism of settled European populations, ranging from massacres to pressuring Chinese migrants into what became known as Chinatowns. [19] In regard to their legal situation, the Chinese immigrants were far more imposed upon by the government than most other ethnic minorities in these regions. Laws were made to restrict them, including exorbitant special taxes (Foreign Miners' Tax Act of 1850), prohibiting them from marrying white European partners (so as to prevent men from marrying at all and increasing the population) and barring them from acquiring U.S. citizenship. [20]

Departure from China Edit

Decrees by the Qing dynasty issued in 1712 and 1724 forbade emigration and overseas trade and were primarily intended to prevent remnant supporters of the Ming dynasty from establishing bases overseas. However, these decrees were widely ignored. Large-scale immigration of Chinese laborers began after China began to receive news of deposits of gold found in California. The Burlingame Treaty with the United States in 1868 effectively lifted any former restrictions and large-scale immigration to the United States began. [21] In order to avoid difficulties with departure, most Chinese gold-seekers embarked on their transpacific voyage from the docks of Hong Kong, a major trading port in the region. Less frequently, they left from the neighboring port of Macau, with the choice usually being decided by distance of either city. Only merchants were able to take their wives and children overseas. The vast majority of Chinese immigrants were peasants, farmers and craftsmen. Young men, who were usually married, left their wives and children behind since they intended to stay in America only temporarily. Wives also remained behind to fulfill their traditional obligation to care for their husbands' parents. The men sent a large part of the money they earned in America back to China. Because it was usual at that time in China to live in confined social nets, families, unions, guilds, and sometimes whole village communities or even regions (for instance, Taishan) sent nearly all of their young men to California. From the beginning of the California gold rush until 1882—when an American federal law ended the Chinese influx—approximately 300,000 Chinese arrived in the United States. Because the chances to earn more money were far better in America than in China, these migrants often remained considerably longer than they had planned initially, despite increasing xenophobia and hostility towards them. [22]

Arrival in the United States Edit

Chinese immigrants booked their passages on ships with the Pacific Mail Steamship Company (founded in 1848) and the Occidental and Oriental Steamship Company (founded 1874). The money to fund their journey was mostly borrowed from relatives, district associations or commercial lenders. In addition, American employers of Chinese laborers sent hiring agencies to China to pay for the Pacific voyage of those who were unable to borrow money. This "credit-ticket system" meant that the money advanced by the agencies to cover the cost of the passage was to be paid back by wages earned by the laborers later during their time in the U.S. The credit-ticket system had long been used by indentured migrants from South China who left to work in what Chinese called Nanyang (South Seas), the region to the south of China that included the Philippines, the former Dutch East Indies, the Malay Peninsula, and Borneo, Thailand, Indochina, and Burma. The Chinese who left for Australia also used the credit-ticket system. [24]

The entry of the Chinese into the United States was, to begin with, legal and uncomplicated and even had a formal judicial basis in 1868 with the signing of the Burlingame Treaty between the United States and China. But there were differences compared with the policy for European immigrants, in that if the Chinese migrants had children born in the United States, those children would automatically acquire American citizenship. However, the immigrants themselves would legally remain as foreigners "indefinitely". Unlike European immigrants, the possibility of naturalization was withheld from the Chinese. [25]

Although the newcomers arrived in America after an already established small community of their compatriots, they experienced many culture shocks. The Chinese immigrants neither spoke nor understood English and were not familiar with western culture and life they often came from rural China and therefore had difficulty in adjusting to and finding their way around large towns such as San Francisco. The racism they experienced from the European Americans from the outset increased continuously until the turn of the 20th century, and with lasting effect prevented their assimilation into mainstream American society. This in turn led to the creation, cohesion, and cooperation of many Chinese benevolent associations and societies whose existence in the United States continued far into the 20th century as a necessity both for support and survival. There were also many other factors that hindered their assimilation, most notably their appearance. Under Qing dynasty law, Han Chinese men were forced under the threat of beheading to follow Manchu customs including shaving the front of their heads and combing the remaining hair into a queue. Historically, to the Manchus, the policy was both an act of submission and, in practical terms, an identification aid to tell friend from foe. Because Chinese immigrants returned as often as they could to China to see their family, they could not cut off their often hated braids in America and then legally re-enter China. [26]

The first Chinese immigrants usually remained faithful to traditional Chinese beliefs, which were either Confucianism, ancestral worship, Buddhism or Daoism, while others adhered to various ecclesiastical doctrines. The number of Chinese migrants who converted to Christianity remained at first low. They were mainly Protestants who had already been converted in China where foreign Christian missionaries (who had first come in mass in the 19th century) had strived for centuries to wholly Christianize the nation with relatively minor success. Christian missionaries had also worked in the Chinese communities and settlements in America, but nevertheless their religious message found few who were receptive. It was estimated that during the first wave until the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, less than 20 percent of Chinese immigrants had accepted Christian teachings. Their difficulties with integration were exemplified by the end of the first wave in the mid-20th century when only a minority of Chinese living in the U.S. could speak English. [28]

Tanka people women who worked as prostitutes for foreigners also commonly kept a "nursery" of Tanka girls specifically to export them to overseas Chinese communities in Australia or America for prostitution work, or to serve as a Chinese or foreigner's concubine. [29] Of the first wave of Chinese who moved to America, few were women. In 1850, the Chinese community of San Francisco consisted of 4,018 men and only seven women. By 1855, women made up only two percent of the Chinese population in the United States, and even by 1890 this had only increased to 4.8 percent. The lack of visibility of Chinese women in general was due partially to the cost of making the voyage when there was a lack of work opportunities for Chinese women in America. This was exacerbated by the harsh working conditions and the traditional female responsibility of looking after the children and extended family back in China. The only women who did go to America were usually the wives of merchants. Other factors were cultural in nature, such as having bound feet and not leaving the home. Another important consideration was that most Chinese men were worried that by bringing their wives and raising families in America they too would be subjected to the same racial violence and discrimination they had faced. With the heavily uneven gender ratio, prostitution grew rapidly and the Chinese sex trade and trafficking became a lucrative business. Documents from the 1870 U.S. Census show that 61 percent of 3,536 Chinese women in California were classified as prostitutes as an occupation. The existence of Chinese prostitution was detected early, after which the police, legislature and popular press singled out Chinese prostitutes for criticism. This was seen as further evidence of the depravity of the Chinese and the repression of women in their patriarchal cultural values. [30]

Laws passed by the California state legislature in 1866 to curb the brothels worked alongside missionary activity by the Methodist and Presbyterian Churches to help reduce the number of Chinese prostitutes. By the time of the 1880 U.S. Census, documents show that only 24 percent of 3,171 Chinese women in California were classified as prostitutes, many of whom married Chinese Christians and formed some of the earliest Chinese-American families in mainland America. Nevertheless, American legislation used the prostitution issue to make immigration far more difficult for Chinese women. On March 3, 1875, in Washington, D.C., the United States Congress enacted the Page Act that forbade the entry of all Chinese women considered "obnoxious" by representatives of U.S. consulates at their origins of departure. In effect, this led to American officials erroneously classifying many women as prostitutes, which greatly reduced the opportunities for all Chinese women wishing to enter the United States. [30] After the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, many Chinese Americans immigrated to the Southern states, particularly Arkansas, to work on plantations. The tenth U.S. Census of Louisiana showed that 57% of interracial marriages between these Chinese-American men were to African-American women, and 43% to European-American women. [31]

Formation of Chinese American associations Edit

Pre-1911 revolutionary Chinese society was distinctively collectivist and composed of close networks of extended families, unions, clan associations and guilds, where people had a duty to protect and help one another. Soon after the first Chinese had settled in San Francisco, respectable Chinese merchants—the most prominent members of the Chinese community of the time—made the first efforts to form social and welfare organizations (Chinese: "Kongsi") to help immigrants to relocate others from their native towns, socialize, receive monetary aid and raise their voices in community affairs. [33] At first, these organizations only provided interpretation, lodgings and job finding services for newcomers. In 1849, the first Chinese merchants' association was formed, but it did not last long. In less than a few years it petered out as its role was gradually replaced by a network of Chinese district and clan associations when more immigrants came in greater numbers. [33] Eventually some of the more prominent district associations merged to become the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (more commonly known as the "Chinese Six Companies" because of the original six founding associations). [34] It quickly became the most powerful and politically vocal organization to represent the Chinese not only in San Francisco but in the whole of California. In other large cities and regions in America similar associations were formed. [33]

The Chinese associations mediated disputes and soon began participating in the hospitality industry, lending, health, and education and funeral services. The latter became especially significant for the Chinese community because for religious reasons many of the immigrants laid value to burial or cremation (including the scattering of ashes) in China. In the 1880s many of the city and regional associations united to form a national Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (CCBA), an umbrella organization, which defended the political rights and legal interests of the Chinese American community, particularly during times of anti-Chinese repression. By resisting overt discrimination enacted against them, the local chapters of the national CCBA helped to bring a number of cases to the courts from the municipal level to the Supreme Court to fight discriminatory legislation and treatment. The associations also took their cases to the press and worked with government institutions and Chinese diplomatic missions to protect their rights. In San Francisco's Chinatown, birthplace of the CCBA, formed in 1882, the CCBA had effectively assumed the function of an unofficial local governing body, which even used privately hired police or guards for protection of inhabitants at the height of anti-Chinese excesses. [35]

Following a law enacted in New York, in 1933, in an attempt to evict Chinese from the laundry business, the Chinese Hand Laundry Alliance was founded as a competitor to the CCBA.

A minority of Chinese immigrants did not join the CCBA as they were outcasts or lacked the clan or family ties to join more prestigious Chinese surname associations, business guilds, or legitimate enterprises. As a result, they organized themselves into their own secret societies, called Tongs, for mutual support and protection of their members. These first tongs modeled themselves upon the triads, underground organizations dedicated to the overthrow of the Qing dynasty, and adopted their codes of brotherhood, loyalty, and patriotism. [37]

The members of the tongs were marginalized, poor, had low educational levels and lacked the opportunities available to wealthier Chinese. Their organizations formed without any clear political motives and soon found themselves involved in lucrative criminal activities, including extortion, gambling, people smuggling, and prostitution. Prostitution proved to be an extremely profitable business for the tongs, due to the high male-to-female ratio among the early immigrants. The tongs would kidnap or purchase females (including babies) from China and smuggle them over the Pacific Ocean to work in brothels and similar establishments. There were constant internecine battles over territory, profits, and women in feuds known as the tong wars, which began in the 1850s and lasted until the 1920s, notably in San Francisco, Cleveland and Los Angeles. [37]

The Chinese moved to California in large numbers during the California Gold Rush, with 40,400 being recorded as arriving from 1851 to 1860, and again in the 1860s when the Central Pacific Railroad recruited large labor gangs, many on five-year contracts, to build its portion of the Transcontinental Railroad. The Chinese laborers worked out well and thousands more were recruited until the railroad's completion in 1869. Chinese labor provided the massive labor needed to build the majority of the Central Pacific's difficult railroad tracks through the Sierra Nevada mountains and across Nevada. The Chinese population rose from 2,716 in 1851 to 63,000 by 1871. In the decade 1861–70, 64,301 were recorded as arriving, followed by 123,201 in 1871–80 and 61,711 in 1881–90. 77% were located in California, with the rest scattered across the West, the South, and New England. [38] Most came from Southern China looking for a better life escaping a high rate of poverty left after the Taiping Rebellion. This immigration may have been as high as 90% male as most immigrated with the thought of returning home to start a new life. Those that stayed in America faced the lack of suitable Chinese brides as Chinese women were not allowed to emigrate in significant numbers after 1872. As a result, the mostly bachelor communities slowly aged in place with very low Chinese birth rates.

California Gold Rush Edit

The last major immigration wave started around the 1850s. The West Coast of North America was being rapidly settled by European-Americans during the California Gold Rush, while southern China suffered from severe political and economic instability due to the weakness of the Qing government, along with massive devastation brought on by the Taiping Rebellion, which saw many Chinese emigrate to other countries to flee the fighting. As a result, many Chinese made the decision to emigrate from the chaotic Taishanese- and Cantonese-speaking areas in Guangdong province to the United States to find work, with the added incentive of being able to aid their family back home.

For most Chinese immigrants of the 1850s, San Francisco was only a transit station on the way to the gold fields in the Sierra Nevada. According to estimates, there were in the late 1850s 15,000 Chinese mine workers in the "Gold Mountains" or "Mountains of Gold" (Cantonese: Gam Saan, 金山). Because anarchic conditions prevailed in the gold fields, the robbery by European miners of Chinese mining area permits were barely pursued or prosecuted and the Chinese gold seekers themselves were often victim to violent assaults. At that time,"Chinese immigrants were stereotyped as degraded, exotic, dangerous, and perpetual foreigners who could not assimilate into civilized western culture, regardless of citizenship or duration of residency in the USA". [40] In response to this hostile situation these Chinese miners developed a basic approach that differed from the white European gold miners. While the Europeans mostly worked as individuals or in small groups, the Chinese formed large teams, which protected them from attacks and, because of good organization, often gave them a higher yield. To protect themselves even further against attacks, they preferred to work areas that other gold seekers regarded as unproductive and had given up on. Because much of the gold fields were exhaustingly gone over until the beginning of the 20th century, many of the Chinese remained far longer than the European miners. In 1870, one-third of the men in the Californian gold fields were Chinese.

However, their displacement had begun already in 1869 when white miners began to resent the Chinese miners, feeling that they were discovering gold that the white miners deserved. Eventually, protest rose from white miners who wanted to eliminate the growing competition. From 1852 to 1870 (ironically when the Civil Rights Act of 1866 was passed), the California legislature enforced a series of taxes.

In 1852, a special foreign miner's tax aimed at the Chinese was passed by the California legislature that was aimed at foreign miners who were not U.S. citizens. Given that the Chinese were ineligible for citizenship at that time and constituted the largest percentage of the non-white population of California, the taxes were primarily aimed at them and tax revenue was therefore generated almost exclusively by the Chinese. [38] This tax required a payment of three dollars each month at a time when Chinese miners were making approximately six dollars a month. Tax collectors could legally take and sell the property of those miners who refused or could not pay the tax. Fake tax collectors made money by taking advantage of people who could not speak English well, and some tax collectors, both false and real, stabbed or shot miners who could not or would not pay the tax. During the 1860s, many Chinese were expelled from the mine fields and forced to find other jobs. The Foreign Miner's Tax existed until 1870. [41]

The position of the Chinese gold seekers also was complicated by a decision of the California Supreme Court, which decided, in the case The People of the State of California v. George W. Hall in 1854 that the Chinese were not allowed to testify as witnesses before the court in California against white citizens, including those accused of murder. The decision was largely based upon the prevailing opinion that the Chinese were:

. a race of people whom nature has marked as inferior, and who are incapable of progress or intellectual development beyond a certain point, as their history has shown differing in language, opinions, color, and physical conformation between whom and ourselves nature has placed an impassable difference" and as such had no right " to swear away the life of a citizen" or participate" with us in administering the affairs of our Government. [42]

The ruling effectively made white violence against Chinese Americans unprosecutable, arguably leading to more intense white-on-Chinese race riots, such as the 1877 San Francisco Riot. The Chinese living in California were with this decision left practically in a legal vacuum, because they had now no possibility to assert their rightful legal entitlements or claims—possibly in cases of theft or breaches of agreement—in court. The ruling remained in force until 1873. [43]

Transcontinental railroad Edit

After the gold rush wound down in the 1860s, the majority of the work force found jobs in the railroad industry. Chinese labor was integral to the construction of the First Transcontinental Railroad, which linked the railway network of the Eastern United States with California on the Pacific coast. Construction began in 1863 at the terminal points of Omaha, Nebraska and Sacramento, California, and the two sections were merged and ceremonially completed on May 10, 1869, at the famous "golden spike" event at Promontory Summit, Utah. It created a nationwide mechanized transportation network that revolutionized the population and economy of the American West. This network caused the wagon trains of previous decades to become obsolete, exchanging it for a modern transportation system. The building of the railway required enormous labor in the crossing of plains and high mountains by the Union Pacific Railroad and Central Pacific Railroad, the two privately chartered federally backed enterprises that built the line westward and eastward respectively.

Since there was a lack of white European construction workers, in 1865 a large number of Chinese workers were recruited from the silver mines, as well as later contract workers from China. The idea for the use of Chinese labor came from the manager of the Central Pacific Railroad, Charles Crocker, who at first had trouble persuading his business partners of the fact that the mostly weedy, slender looking Chinese workers, some contemptuously called "Crocker's pets", were suitable for the heavy physical work. For the Central Pacific Railroad, hiring Chinese as opposed to whites kept labor costs down by a third, since the company would not pay their board or lodging. This type of steep wage inequality was commonplace at the time. [38] Eventually Crocker overcame shortages of manpower and money by hiring Chinese immigrants to do much of the back-breaking and dangerous labor. He drove the workers to the point of exhaustion, in the process setting records for laying track and finishing the project seven years ahead of the government's deadline. [44]

The Central Pacific track was constructed primarily by Chinese immigrants. Even though at first they were thought to be too weak or fragile to do this type of work, after the first day in which Chinese were on the line, the decision was made to hire as many as could be found in California (where most were gold miners or in service industries such as laundries and kitchens). Many more were imported from China. Most of the men received between one and three dollars per day, but the workers from China received much less. Eventually, they went on strike and gained small increases in salary. [45]

The route laid not only had to go across rivers and canyons, which had to be bridged, but also through two mountain ranges—the Sierra Nevada and the Rocky Mountains—where tunnels had to be created. The explosions had caused many of the Chinese laborers to lose their lives. Due to the wide expanse of the work, the construction had to be carried out at times in the extreme heat and also in other times in the bitter winter cold. So harsh were the conditions that sometimes even entire camps were buried under avalanches. [46]

The Central Pacific made great progress along the Sacramento Valley. However construction was slowed, first by the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, then by the mountains themselves and most importantly by winter snowstorms. Consequently, the Central Pacific expanded its efforts to hire immigrant laborers (many of whom were Chinese). The immigrants seemed to be more willing to tolerate the horrible conditions, and progress continued. The increasing necessity for tunnelling then began to slow progress of the line yet again. To combat this, Central Pacific began to use the newly invented and very unstable nitro-glycerine explosives—which accelerated both the rate of construction and the mortality of the Chinese laborers. Appalled by the losses, the Central Pacific began to use less volatile explosives, and developed a method of placing the explosives in which the Chinese blasters worked from large suspended baskets that were rapidly pulled to safety after the fuses were lit. [46]

The well organized Chinese teams still turned out to be highly industrious and exceedingly efficient at the peak of the construction work, shortly before completion of the railroad, more than 11,000 Chinese were involved with the project. Although the white European workers had higher wages and better working conditions, their share of the workforce was never more than 10 percent. As the Chinese railroad workers lived and worked tirelessly, they also managed the finances associated with their employment, and Central Pacific officials responsible for employing the Chinese, even those at first opposed to the hiring policy, came to appreciate the cleanliness and reliability of this group of laborers. [47]

After 1869, the Southern Pacific Railroad and Northwestern Pacific Railroad led the expansion of the railway network further into the American West, and many of the Chinese who had built the transcontinental railroad remained active in building the railways. [48] After several projects were completed, many of the Chinese workers relocated and looked for employment elsewhere, such as in farming, manufacturing firms, garment industries, and paper mills. However, widespread anti-Chinese discrimination and violence from whites, including riots and murders, drove many into self-employment.

Agriculture Edit

Up until the middle of the 19th century, wheat was the primary crop grown in California. The favorable climate allowed the beginning of the intensive cultivation of certain fruits, vegetables and flowers. In the East Coast of the United States a strong demand for these products existed. However, the supply of these markets became possible only with the completion of the transcontinental railroad. Just as with the railway construction, there was a dire manpower shortage in the expanding Californian agriculture sector, so the white landowners began in the 1860s to put thousands of Chinese migrants to work in their large-scale farms and other agricultural enterprises. Many of these Chinese laborers were not unskilled seasonal workers, but were in fact experienced farmers, whose vital expertise the Californian fruit, vegetables and wine industries owe much to this very day. Despite this, the Chinese immigrants could not own any land on account of the laws in California at the time. Nevertheless, they frequently pursued agricultural work under leases or profit-sharing contracts with their employers. [49]

Many of these Chinese men came from the Pearl River Delta Region in southern China, where they had learned how to develop fertile farmland in inaccessible river valleys. This know-how was used for the reclamation of the extensive valleys of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. During the 1870s, thousands of Chinese laborers played an indispensable role in the construction of a vast network of earthen levees in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta in California. These levees opened up thousands of acres of highly fertile marshlands for agricultural production. Chinese workers were used to construct hundreds of miles of levees throughout the delta's waterways in an effort to reclaim and preserve farmland and control flooding. These levees therefore confined waterflow to the riverbeds. Many of the workers stayed in the area and made a living as farm workers or sharecroppers, until they were driven out during an outbreak of anti-Chinese violence in the mid-1890s.

Chinese immigrants settled a few small towns in the Sacramento River delta, two of them: Locke, California, and Walnut Grove, California located 15–20 miles south of Sacramento were predominantly Chinese in the turn of the 20th century. Also Chinese farmers contributed to the development of the San Gabriel Valley of the Los Angeles area, followed by other Asian nationalities like the Japanese and Indians.

Military Edit

A small number of Chinese fought during the American Civil War. Of the approximately 200 Chinese people in the eastern United States at the time, fifty-eight are known to have fought in the Civil War, many of them in the Navy. Most fought for the Union, but a small number also fought for the Confederacy. [50]

Union soldiers with Chinese heritage

  • Corporal Joseph Pierce, 14th Connecticut Infantry. [51]
  • Corporal John Tomney/Tommy, 70th Regiment Excelsior Brigade, New York Infantry. [52]
  • Edward Day Cohota, 23rd Massachusetts Infantry. [51][53]
  • Antonio Dardelle, 27th Connecticut Regiment. [54]
  • Hong Neok Woo, 50th Regiment Infantry, Pennsylvania Volunteer Emergency Militia. [55]
  • Thomas Sylvanus, 42nd New York Infantry. [56]
  • John Earl, cabin boy on USS Hartford. [57]
  • William Hang, landsman on USS Hartford. [57]
  • John Akomb, steward on a gunboat. [57]

Confederate soldiers with Chinese heritage [58]

  • Christopher Wren Bunker and Stephen Decatur Bunker (Siam-born of partial Chinese ancestry), the sons of conjoined twins Chang and Eng Bunker. 37th Battalion, Virginia Cavalry.
  • John Fouenty, draftee and deserter.
  • Charles K. Marshall

Fisheries Edit

From the Pearl River Delta Region also came countless numbers of experienced Chinese fishermen. In the 1850s they founded a fishing economy on the Californian coast that grew exponentially, and by the 1880s extended along the whole West Coast of the United States, from Canada to Mexico. With entire fleets of small boats (sampans 舢舨), the Chinese fishermen caught herring, soles, smelts, cod, sturgeon, and shark. To catch larger fish like barracudas, they used Chinese junks, which were built in large numbers on the American west coast. The catch included crabs, clams, abalone, salmon, and seaweed—all of which, including shark, formed the staple of Chinese cuisine. They sold their catch in local markets or shipped it salt-dried to East Asia and Hawaii. [60]

Again, this initial success was met with a hostile reaction. Since the late 1850s, European migrants—above all Greeks, Italians and Dalmatians—moved into fishing off the American west coast too, and they exerted pressure on the California legislature, which, finally, expelled the Chinese fishermen with a whole array of taxes, laws and regulations. They had to pay special taxes (Chinese Fisherman's Tax), and they were not allowed to fish with traditional Chinese nets nor with junks. The most disastrous effect occurred when the Scott Act, a federal U.S. law adopted in 1888, established that the Chinese migrants, even when they had entered and were living the United States legally, could not re-enter after having temporarily left U.S. territory. The Chinese fishermen, in effect, could therefore not leave with their boats the 3-mile (4.8 km) zone of the west coast. [61] Their work became unprofitable, and gradually they gave up fishing. The only area where the Chinese fishermen remained unchallenged was shark fishing, where they stood in no competition to the European-Americans. Many former fishermen found work in the salmon canneries, which until the 1930s were major employers of Chinese migrants, because white workers were less interested in such hard, seasonal and relatively unrewarding work. [62]

Other occupations Edit

Since the California gold rush, many Chinese migrants made their living as domestic servants, housekeepers, running restaurants, laundries (leading to the 1886 Supreme Court decision Yick Wo v. Hopkins and then to the 1933 creation of the Chinese Hand Laundry Alliance) and a wide spectrum of shops, such as food stores, antique shops, jewelers, and imported goods stores. In addition, the Chinese often worked in borax and mercury mines, as seamen on board the ships of American shipping companies or in the consumer goods industry, especially in the cigar, boots, footwear and textile manufacturing. During the economic crises of the 1870s, factory owners were often glad that the immigrants were content with the low wages given. The Chinese took the bad wages, because their wives and children lived in China where the cost of living was low. As they were classified as foreigners they were excluded from joining American trade unions, and so they formed their own Chinese organizations (called "guilds") that represented their interests with the employers. The American trade unionists were nevertheless still wary as the Chinese workers were willing to work for their employers for relatively low wages and incidentally acted as strikebreakers thereby running counter to the interests of the trade unions. In fact, many employers used the threat of importing Chinese strikebreakers as a means to prevent or break up strikes, which caused further resentment against the Chinese. A notable incident occurred in 1870, when 75 young men from China were hired to replace striking shoe workers in North Adams, Massachusetts. [63] Nevertheless, these young men had no idea that they had been brought from San Francisco by the superintendent of the shoe factory to act as strikebreakers at their destination. This incident provided the trade unions with propaganda, later repeatedly cited, calling for the immediate and total exclusion of the Chinese. This particular controversy slackened somewhat as attention focused on the economic crises in 1875 when the majority of cigar and boots manufacturing companies went under. Mainly, just the textile industry still employed Chinese workers in large numbers. In 1876, in response to the rising anti-Chinese hysteria, both major political parties included Chinese exclusion in their campaign platforms as a way to win votes by taking advantage of the nation's industrial crisis. Rather than directly confronting the divisive problems such as class conflict, economic depression, and rising unemployment, this helped put the question of Chinese immigration and contracted Chinese workers on the national agenda and eventually paved way for the era's most racist legislation, the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882. [63] [64]

Statistics on Employed Male Chinese in the Twenty, Most Frequently Reported Occupations, 1870

This table describes the occupation partitioning among Chinese males in the twenty most reported occupations. [65]

# Occupation Population %
1. Miners 17,069 36.9
2. Laborers (not specified) 9436 20.4
3. Domestic servants 5420 11.7
4. Launderers 3653 7.9
5. Agricultural laborers 1766 3.8
6. Cigar-makers 1727 3.7
7. Gardeners & nurserymen 676 1.5
8. Traders & dealers(not specified) 604 1.3
9. Employees of railroad co., (not clerks) 568 1.2
10. Boot & shoemakers 489 1.1
11. Woodchoppers 419 0.9
12. Farmers & planters 366 0.8
13. Fishermen & oystermen 310 0.7
14. Barbers & hairdressers 243 0.5
15. Clerks in stores 207 0.4
16. Mill & factory operatives 203 0.4
17. Physicians & surgeons 193 0.4
18. Employees of manufacturing establishments 166 0.4
19. Carpenters & joiners 155 0.3
20. Peddlers 152 0.3
Sub-Total (20 occupations) 43,822 94.7
Total (all occupations) 46,274 100.0

Indispensable workforce Edit

Supporters and opponents of Chinese immigration affirm [ dubious – discuss ] that Chinese labor was indispensable to the economic prosperity of the west. The Chinese performed jobs which could be life-threatening and arduous, for example working in mines, swamps, construction sites and factories. Many jobs that the Caucasians did not want to do were left to the Chinese. Some believed that the Chinese were inferior to the white people and so should be doing inferior work. [66]

Manufacturers depended on the Chinese workers because they had to reduce labor cost to save money and the Chinese labor was cheaper than the Caucasian labor. The labor from the Chinese was cheaper because they did not live like the Caucasians, they needed less money because they lived with lower standards. [67]

The Chinese were often in competition with African-Americans in the labor market. In the south of the United States, July 1869, at an immigration convention at Memphis, a committee was formed to consolidate schemes for importing Chinese laborers into the south like the African-American. [68]

In the 1870s several economic crises came about in parts of the United States, and many Americans lost their jobs, from which arose throughout the American West an anti-Chinese movement and its main mouthpiece, the Workingman's Party labor organization, which was led by the Californian Denis Kearney. The party took particular aim against Chinese immigrant labor and the Central Pacific Railroad that employed them. Its famous slogan was "The Chinese must go!" Kearney's attacks against the Chinese were particularly virulent and openly racist, and found considerable support among white people in the American West. This sentiment led eventually to the Chinese Exclusion Act and the creation of Angel Island Immigration Station. Their propaganda branded the Chinese migrants as "perpetual foreigners" whose work caused wage dumping and thereby prevented American men from "gaining work". After the 1893 economic downturn, measures adopted in the severe depression included anti-Chinese riots that eventually spread throughout the West from which came racist violence and massacres. Most of the Chinese farm workers, which by 1890 comprised 75% of all Californian agricultural workers, were expelled. The Chinese found refuge and shelter in the Chinatowns of large cities. The vacant agricultural jobs subsequently proved to be so unattractive to the unemployed white Europeans that they avoided the work most of the vacancies were then filled by Japanese workers, after whom in the decades later came Filipinos, and finally Mexicans. [69] The term "Chinaman", originally coined as a self-referential term by the Chinese, came to be used as a term against the Chinese in America as the new term "Chinaman's chance" came to symbolize the unfairness Chinese experienced in the American justice system as some were murdered largely due to hatred of their race and culture.

Settlement Edit

Across the country, Chinese immigrants clustered in Chinatowns. The largest population was in San Francisco. Large numbers came from the Taishan area that proudly bills itself as the No. 1 Home of Overseas Chinese. An estimated half a million Chinese Americans are of Taishanese descent. [70]

At first, when surface gold was plentiful, the Chinese were well tolerated and well received. As the easy gold dwindled and competition for it intensified, animosity to the Chinese and other foreigners increased. Organized labor groups demanded that California's gold was only for Americans, and began to physically threaten foreigners' mines or gold diggings. Most, after being forcibly driven from the mines, settled in Chinese enclaves in cities, mainly San Francisco, and took up low end wage labor such as restaurant work and laundry. A few settled in towns throughout the west. With the post Civil War economy in decline by the 1870s, anti-Chinese animosity became politicized by labor leader (and famous anti-Chinese advocate) Denis Kearney and his Workingman's Party as well as by Governor John Bigler, both of whom blamed Chinese "coolies" for depressed wage levels and causing European-Americans to lose their jobs.

Discrimination Edit

The flow of immigration (encouraged by the Burlingame Treaty of 1868) was stopped by the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. This act outlawed all Chinese immigration to the United States and denied citizenship to those already settled in the country. Renewed in 1892 and extended indefinitely in 1902, the Chinese population declined until the act was repealed in 1943 by the Magnuson Act. [38] (Chinese immigration later increased more with the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, which abolished direct racial barriers, and later by the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which abolished the National Origins Formula. [71] ) Official discrimination extended to the highest levels of the U.S. government: in 1888, U.S. President Grover Cleveland, who supported the Chinese Exclusion Act, proclaimed the Chinese "an element ignorant of our constitution and laws, impossible of assimilation with our people and dangerous to our peace and welfare." [72]

Many Western states also enacted discriminatory laws that made it difficult for Chinese and Japanese immigrants to own land and find work. One of these anti-Chinese laws was the Foreign Miners' License tax, which required a monthly payment of three dollars from every foreign miner who did not desire to become a citizen. Foreign-born Chinese could not become citizens because they had been rendered ineligible to citizenship by the Naturalization Act of 1790 that reserved naturalized citizenship to "free white persons". [73]

By then, California had collected five million dollars from the Chinese. Another anti-Chinese law was "An Act to Discourage Immigration to this State of Persons Who Cannot Become Citizens Thereof", which imposed on the master or owner of a ship a landing tax of fifty dollars for each passenger ineligible to naturalized citizenship. "To Protect Free White Labor against competition with emigrant Chinese Labor and to Discourage the Immigration of Chinese into the State of California" was another such law (aka the Anti-Coolie Act, 1862), and it imposed a $2.50 tax per month on all Chinese residing in the state, except Chinese operating businesses, licensed to work in mines, or engaged in the production of sugar, rice, coffee or tea. In 1886, the Supreme Court struck down a Californian law, in Yick Wo v. Hopkins this was the first case where the Supreme Court ruled that a law that is race-neutral on its face, but is administered in a prejudicial manner, is an infringement of the Equal Protection Clause in the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. [74] The law aimed in particular against Chinese laundry businesses.

However, this Supreme Court decision was only a temporary setback for the Nativist movement. In 1882, the Chinese Exclusion Act had made it unlawful for Chinese laborers to enter the United States for the next 10 years and denied naturalized citizenship to Chinese already here. Initially intended for Chinese laborers, it was broadened in 1888 to include all persons of the "Chinese race". And in 1896, Plessy v. Ferguson effectively canceled Yick Wo v. Hopkins, by supporting the "separate but equal" doctrine. Despite this, Chinese laborers and other migrants still entered the United States illegally through Canada and Latin America, in a path known as the Chinese Underground Railroad. [75]

Wong Kim Ark, who was born in San Francisco in 1873, was denied re-entry to the United States after a trip abroad, under a law restricting Chinese immigration and prohibiting immigrants from China from becoming naturalized U.S. citizens. However, he challenged the government's refusal to recognize his citizenship, and in the Supreme Court case United States v. Wong Kim Ark, 169 U.S. 649 (1898), the Court ruled regarding him that "a child born in the United States, of parents of Chinese descent, who, at the time of his birth, are subjects of the Emperor of China, but have a permanent domicil and residence in the United States, and are there carrying on business, and are not employed in any diplomatic or official capacity under the Emperor of China", [76] automatically became a U.S. citizen at birth. [77] This decision established an important precedent in its interpretation of the Citizenship Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. [78]

Tape v. Hurley, 66 Cal. 473 (1885) was a landmark court case in the California Supreme Court in which the Court found the exclusion of a Chinese American student, Mamie Tape, from public school based on her ancestry unlawful. However, state legislation passed at the urging of San Francisco Superintendent of Schools Andrew J. Moulder after the school board lost its case enabled the establishment of a segregated school.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Surgeon General Walter Wyman requested to put San Francisco's Chinatown under quarantine because of an outbreak of bubonic plague the early stages of the San Francisco plague of 1900–1904. Chinese residents, supported by governor Henry Gage (1899–1903) and local businesses, fought the quarantine through numerous federal court battles, claiming the Marine Hospital Service was violating their rights under the Fourteenth Amendment, and in the process, launched lawsuits against Kinyoun, director of the San Francisco Quarantine Station. [79]

The 1906 San Francisco earthquake allowed a critical change to Chinese immigration patterns. The practice known as "Paper Sons" and "Paper Daughters" was allegedly introduced. Chinese would declare themselves to be United States citizens whose records were lost in the earthquake. [80]

A year before, more than 60 labor unions formed the Asiatic Exclusion League in San Francisco, including labor leaders Patrick Henry McCarthy (mayor of San Francisco from 1910 to 1912), Olaf Tveitmoe (first president of the organization), and Andrew Furuseth and Walter McCarthy of the Sailor's Union. The League was almost immediately successful in pressuring the San Francisco Board of Education to segregate Asian school children.

California Attorney General Ulysses S. Webb (1902–1939) put great effort into enforcing the Alien Land Law of 1913, which he had co-written, and prohibited "aliens ineligible for citizenship" (i.e. all Asian immigrants) from owning land or property. The law was struck down by the Supreme Court of California in 1946 (Sei Fujii v. State of California). [81]

One of the few cases in which Chinese immigration was allowed during this era were "Pershing's Chinese", who were allowed to immigrate from Mexico to the United States shortly before World War I as they aided General John J. Pershing in his expedition against Pancho Villa in Mexico. [82]

The Immigration Act of 1917 banned all immigrations from many parts of Asia, including parts of China (see map on left), and foreshadowed the Immigration Restriction Act of 1924. Other laws included the Cubic Air Ordinance, which prohibited Chinese from occupying a sleeping room with less than 500 cubic feet (14 m 3 ) of breathing space between each person, the Queue Ordinance, [83] which forced Chinese with long hair worn in a queue to pay a tax or to cut it, and Anti-Miscegenation Act of 1889 that prohibited Chinese men from marrying white women, and the Cable Act of 1922, which terminated citizenship for white American women who married an Asian man. The majority of these laws were not fully overturned until the 1950s, at the dawn of the modern Civil Rights Movement. Under all this persecution, almost half of the Chinese Americans born in the United States moved to China seeking greater opportunities. [84] [85]

Segregation in the South Edit

Chinese immigrants first arrived in the Mississippi Delta during the Reconstruction Era as cheap laborers when the system of sharecropping was being developed. [86] They gradually came to operate grocery stores in mainly African American neighborhoods. [86] The Chinese population in the delta peaked in the 1870s, reaching 3000. [87]

Chinese carved out a distinct role in the predominantly biracial society of the Mississippi Delta. In a few communities, Chinese children were able to attend white schools, while others studied under tutors, or established their own Chinese schools. [88] In 1924, a nine-year-old Chinese-American named Martha Lum, daughter of Gong Lum, was prohibited from attending the Rosedale Consolidated High School in Bolivar County, Mississippi, solely because she was of Chinese descent. The ensuing lawsuit eventually reached the Supreme Court of the United States. In Lum v. Rice (1927), the Supreme Court affirmed that the separate-but-equal doctrine articulated in Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896), applied to a person of Chinese ancestry, born in and a citizen of the United States. The court held that Miss Lum was not denied equal protection of the law because she was given the opportunity to attend a school which "receive[d] only children of the brown, yellow or black races". However, Chinese-Americans in the Mississippi Delta began to identify themselves with whites and ended their friendship with the black community in Mississippi. [ citation needed ] By the late 1960s, Chinese-American children attended white schools and universities. They joined Mississippi's infamous White citizen's councils, became members of white churches, were defined as white on driver's licenses, and could marry whites. [89]

In his book published in 1890, How The Other Half Lives, Jacob Riis called the Chinese of New York "a constant and terrible menace to society", [90] "in no sense a desirable element of the population". [91] Riis referred to the reputation of New York's Chinatown as a place full of illicit activity, including gambling, prostitution and opium smoking. To some extent, Riis' characterization was true, though the sensational press quite often exploited the great differences between Chinese and American language and culture to sell newspapers, [92] exploit Chinese labor and promote Americans of European birth. The press in particular greatly exaggerated the prevalence of opium smoking and prostitution in New York's Chinatown, and many reports of indecency and immorality were simply fictitious. [93] Casual observers of Chinatown believed that opium use was rampant since they constantly witnessed Chinese smoking with pipes. In fact, local Chinatown residents often were instead smoking tobacco through such pipes. [94] In the late-19th century, many European-Americans visited Chinatown to experience it via "slumming", wherein guided groups of affluent New Yorkers explored vast immigrant districts of New York such as the Lower East Side. [95] Slummers often frequented the brothels and opium dens of Chinatown in the late 1880s and early 1890s. [96] However, by the mid-1890s, slummers rarely participated in Chinese brothels or opium smoking, but instead were shown fake opium joints where Chinese actors and their white wives staged illicit and exaggerated scenes for their audiences. [96] Quite often such shows, which included gunfights that mimicked those of local tongs, were staged by professional guides or "lobbygows"—often Irish Americans—with paid actors. [97] Especially in New York, the Chinese community was unique among immigrant communities in so far as its illicit activity was turned into a cultural commodity.

Perhaps the most pervasive illicit activity in Chinatowns of the late-19th century was gambling. In 1868, one of the earliest Chinese residents in New York, Wah Kee, opened a fruit and vegetable store on Pell Street with rooms upstairs available for gambling and opium smoking. [98] A few decades later, local tongs, which originated in the California goldfields around 1860, controlled most gambling (fan-tan, faro, lotteries) in New York's Chinatown. [93] One of the most popular games of chance was fan-tan where players guessed the exact coins or cards left under a cup after a pile of cards had been counted off four at a time. [99] Most popular, however, was the lottery. Players purchased randomly assigned sweepstakes numbers from gambling-houses, with drawings held at least once a day in lottery saloons. [100] There were ten such saloons found in San Francisco in 1876, which received protection from corrupt policemen in exchange for weekly payoffs of around five dollars per week. [100] Such gambling-houses were frequented by as many whites as Chinamen, though whites sat at separate tables. [101]

Between 1850 and 1875, the most frequent complaint against Chinese residents was their involvement in prostitution. [102] During this time, Hip Yee Tong, a secret society, imported over six-thousand Chinese women to serve as prostitutes. [103] Most of these women came from southeastern China and were either kidnapped, purchased from poor families, or lured to ports like San Francisco with the promise of marriage. [103] Prostitutes fell into three categories, namely, those sold to wealthy Chinese merchants as concubines, those purchased for high-class Chinese brothels catering exclusively to Chinese men, or those purchased for prostitution in lower-class establishments frequented by a mixed clientele. [103] In late-19th century San Francisco, most notably Jackson Street, prostitutes were often housed in rooms 10×10 or 12×12 feet and were often beaten or tortured for not attracting enough business or refusing to work for any reason. [104] In San Francisco, "highbinders" (various Chinese gangs) protected brothel owners, extorted weekly tributes from prostitutes and caused general mayhem in Chinatown. [105] However, many of San Francisco's Chinatown whorehouses were located on property owned by high-ranking European-Americans city officials, who took a percentage of the proceeds in exchange for protection from prosecution. [106] From the 1850s to the 1870s, California passed numerous acts to limit prostitution by all races, yet only Chinese were ever prosecuted under these laws. [107] After the Thirteenth Amendment was passed in 1865, Chinese women brought to the United States for prostitution signed a contract so that their employers would avoid accusations of slavery. [103] Many Americans believed that Chinese prostitutes were corrupting traditional morality, and thus the Page Act was passed in 1875, which placed restrictions on female Chinese immigration. Those who supported the Page Act were attempting to protect American family values, while those who opposed the Act were concerned that it might hinder the efficiency of the cheap labor provided by Chinese males. [108]

In the mid 1850s, 70 to 150 Chinese lived in New York City, of which 11 married Irish women. The New York Times reported on August 6, 1906 that 300 white women (Irish American) were married to Chinese men in New York, with many more cohabiting. Research carried out in 1900 by Liang showed that of the 120,000 men in more than 20 Chinese communities in the United States, one out of every twenty Chinese men (Cantonese) was married to a white women. [109] At the start of the 20th century there was a 55% rate of Chinese men in New York engaging in interracial marriage, which was maintained in the 1920s, but by the 1930s it had fallen to 20%. [110] It is after the migration of Chinese females in equal number to Chinese males that intermarriage became more balanced. The 1960s census showed 3500 Chinese men married to white women and 2900 Chinese women married to white men. The census also showed 300 Chinese men married black women and 100 black men married Chinese women. [111]

It was far more common for Chinese males to marry non-white females in many states. One of the U.S. Census of Louisiana alone in 1880 showed 57% Chinese-American men were married to African-American women, and 43% to White American women. [112] As a result of miscegenation laws against Chinese males. Many Chinese males either cohibited their relationship in secret or married with black females. Of the Chinese men who lived in Mississippi, 20% and 30% of the Chinese males had married black women in many different years before 1940. [113]

Another major concern of European-Americans in relation to Chinatowns was the smoking of opium, even though the practice of smoking opium in America long predated Chinese immigration to the United States. [114] Tariff acts of 1832 established opium regulation, and in 1842 opium was taxed at seventy-five cents per pound. [115] In New York, by 1870, opium dens had opened on Baxter and Mott Streets in Manhattan Chinatown, [115] while in San Francisco, by 1876, Chinatown supported over 200 opium dens, each with a capacity of between five and fifteen people. [115] After the Burlingame Commercial Treaty of 1880, only American citizens could legally import opium into the United States, and thus Chinese businessmen had to rely on non-Chinese importers to maintain opium supply. Ultimately, it was European-Americans who were largely responsible for the legal importation and illegal smuggling of opium via the port of San Francisco and the Mexican border, after 1880. [115]

Since the early 19th century, opium was widely used as an ingredient in medicines, cough syrups, and child quieters. [116] However, many 19th century doctors and opium experts, such as Dr. H.H. Kane and Dr. Leslie E. Keeley, made a distinction between opium used for smoking and that used for medicinal purposes, though they found no difference in addictive potential between them. [117] As part of a larger campaign to rid the United States of Chinese influence, white American doctors claimed that opium smoking led to increased involvement in prostitution by young white women and to genetic contamination via miscegenation. [118] Anti-Chinese advocates believed America faced a dual dilemma: opium smoking was ruining moral standards, and Chinese labor was lowering wages and taking jobs away from European-Americans. [119]

The Magnuson Act, also known as the Chinese Exclusion Repeal Act of 1943, was proposed by U.S. Representative (later Senator) Warren G. Magnuson of Washington and signed into law on December 17, 1943. It allowed Chinese immigration for the first time since the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, and permitted Chinese nationals already residing in the country to become naturalized citizens. This marked the first time since the Naturalization Act of 1790 that any Asians were permitted to naturalize.

The Magnuson Act passed during World War II, when China was a welcome ally to the United States. It limited Chinese immigrants to 105 visas per year selected by the government. That quota was supposedly determined by the Immigration Act of 1924, which set immigration from an allowed country at 2% of the number of people of that nationality who already lived in the United States in 1890. Chinese immigration later increased with the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Services Act of 1965, but was in fact set ten times lower. [120]

Many of the first Chinese immigrants admitted in the 1940s were college students who initially sought simply to study in, not immigrate to, America. However, during the Second Red Scare, conservative American politicians reacted to the emergence of the People's Republic of China as a player in the Cold War by demanding that these Chinese students be prevented from returning to “Red China.” It was feared by these politicians (and no small amount of their constituents) that, if they were allowed to return home to the PRC, they would furnish America’s newfound Cold War enemy with valuable scientific knowledge. Therefore, Chinese students were heavily encouraged to undergo naturalization. One famous Chinese immigrant of the 1940s generation was Tsou Tang, who would eventually become the leading American expert on China and Sino-American relations during the Cold War. [121]

Until 1979, the United States recognized the Republic of China in Taiwan as the sole legitimate government of all of China, and immigration from Taiwan was counted under the same quota as that for mainland China, which had little immigration to the United States from 1949 to 1977. In the late 1970s, the opening up of the People's Republic of China and the breaking of diplomatic relations with the Republic of China led to the passage in 1979 of the Taiwan Relations Act, which placed Taiwan under a separate immigration quota from the People's Republic of China. Emigration from Hong Kong was also considered a separate jurisdiction for the purpose of recording such statistics, and this status continued until the present day as a result of the Immigration Act of 1990.

Chinese Muslims have immigrated to the United States and lived within the Chinese community rather than integrating into other foreign Muslim communities. Two of the most prominent Chinese American Muslims are the Republic of China National Revolutionary Army Generals Ma Hongkui and his son Ma Dunjing who moved to Los Angeles after fleeing from China to Taiwan. Pai Hsien-yung is another Chinese Muslim writer who moved to the United States after fleeing from China to Taiwan, his father was the Chinese Muslim General Bai Chongxi.

Ethnic Chinese immigration to the United States since 1965 has been aided by the fact that the United States maintains separate quotas for Mainland China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. During the late 1960s and early and mid-1970, Chinese immigration into the United States came almost exclusively from Hong Kong and Taiwan creating the Hong Kong American and Taiwanese American subgroups. Immigration from Mainland China was almost non-existent until 1977 when the PRC removed restrictions on emigration leading to the immigration of college students and professionals. These recent groups of Chinese tended to cluster in suburban areas and avoided urban Chinatowns.

In addition to students and professionals, a third wave of recent immigrants consisted of undocumented aliens, who went to the United States in search of lower-status manual jobs. These aliens tend to concentrate in heavily urban areas, particularly in New York City, and there is often very little contact between these Chinese and those higher-educated Chinese professionals. Quantification of the magnitude of this modality of immigration is imprecise and varies over time, but it appears to continue unabatedly on a significant basis. In the 1980s, there was widespread concern by the PRC over a brain drain as graduate students were not returning to the PRC. This exodus worsened after the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. However, since the start of the 21st century, there have been an increasing number of returnees producing a brain gain for the PRC. [122]

Starting from the 1990s, the demographics of the Chinese American community have shifted in favor of immigrants with roots in mainland China, rather than from Taiwan or Hong Kong. However, instead of joining existing Chinese American associations, the recent immigrants formed new cultural, professional, and social organizations which advocated better Sino-American relations, as well as Chinese schools which taught simplified Chinese characters and pinyin. The National Day of the People's Republic of China is now celebrated in some Chinatowns, and flag raising ceremonies feature the Flag of the People's Republic of China as well as the older ROC flag. [123] The effects of Taiwanization, growing prosperity in the PRC, and successive pro-Taiwan independence governments on Taiwan have served to split the older Chinese American community, [124] as some pro-reunification Chinese Americans with ROC origins began to identify more with the PRC. [123]

As pursuant to the Department of Homeland security 2016 immigration report the major class of admission for those Chinese immigrants entering into the US is through Immediate Relatives of US citizens. [125] Just over a third (30 456) of those immigrants gained entry via this means. As legislation in the US is seen to favour this point of entry. Furthermore, employment based preferences is seen to be the third largest. This means of entry accounts for 23% of the total. The H1-B visa is seen to be a main point of entry for Chinese immigrants with both India and China dominating this visa category over the last ten years. [126] Unsurprisingly, Chinese immigrants entering the United States via the diversity lottery are low. This means of entry prioritises those entering into the US from countries with historically low number of immigrants. As such, China does not fall into this category. [127]

The table shows the ethnic Chinese population of the United States (including persons with mixed-ethnic origin). [128]

The History Of The Family Unification Immigration Policy In The U.S.

The U.S. immigration policy that allows U.S. citizens and green card holders to sponsor other relatives to come to the U.S. was first introduced 50 years ago by an immigration hard liner in Congress. President Trump now wants to end "chain migration."

At tomorrow's State of the Union, President Trump is set to make his case for changing the rules around who gets to come to the United States. And a big part of that case is scaling back what the administration calls chain migration. Trump has even described it as horrible chain migration. It's a policy that allows U.S. citizens to sponsor not just their spouses and children, but also parents and adult siblings. The policy is more commonly known as family unification. And it was introduced more than 50 years ago by an immigration hard-liner, a member of Congress who wanted to keep certain immigrants out.

Here to tell us that story is NPR's Tom Gjelten, who wrote a book called "A Nation Of Nations: A Great American Immigration Story." Hey, Tom.


MCEVERS: All right, so this story starts in 1965. Just tell us who that member of Congress was and how he was responsible for this family migration system that President Trump wants to get rid of.

GJELTEN: His name was Michael Feighan. He was a conservative Democrat from Ohio. And he was one of many conservatives at the time who thought it made sense to prioritize immigrants from Europe over immigrants from other regions of the world. And prior to 1965 that was how visas were given out, on the basis of your national origin. Now, as you can imagine, that approach was seen as racist and discriminatory. And by the 1960s, there was this sense that it really should be abolished.

President Johnson called for a switch to a merit-based system. But Feighan and others essentially thought a change like that would open the doors to too many immigrants of color, so he came up with a compromise. He suggested a new policy that would give preference to people who already had relatives here. He figured that would maintain the U.S. population the way it was at the time - largely white and European. It was actually seen - his proposal was actually seen as a naturally operating national origin system.

MCEVERS: But it didn't work out that way, right?

GJELTEN: Now, this is a story about unintended consequences.

GJELTEN: In 1960, 7 of 8 immigrants were still coming from Europe. But that was already beginning to change. Nobody realized it, but the demand to migrate was shifting to the developing world. And this has continued. So by 2010, 9 out of 10 immigrants are coming from outside Europe.

MCEVERS: So if non-Europeans weren't well represented in the U.S. in the 1960s, how did this approach end up bringing in so many people from outside Europe?

GJELTEN: Well, it naturally took a few years. And the way it happened is that there were always other opportunities to immigrate. You know, you could come on a student visa. You could come on an employment visa. I tell the story in my book, for example, of how a Korean woman married an American serviceman, thus became - becoming a U.S. citizen. She brought over basically her extended family.

Another character in my book, a Pakistani man working for an American company, got invited to come to America. So he immigrated. Within about 30 years, he'd brought all six brothers and three sisters over here with their spouses. I actually calculated that over the period of about 30 years he was indirectly responsible for a hundred family members coming. And because the numbers were low in the beginning it took a while to develop, but eventually you had these chains. And about two-thirds of all legal immigrants to the U.S. these days are coming under this family unification system.

MCEVERS: How did it get this negative connotation?

GJELTEN: Well, partly it's just the way that President Trump uses the term chain migration. It just - it sounds bad. It just sounds pejorative when he says it. But in addition to that, it's an offensive term to African-Americans in particular. Their ancestors literally arrived in chains. That was the original chain migration.

MCEVERS: Right. And what is the argument for family unification?

GJELTEN: You know, it's just a natural way. I mean, when you come here as an immigrant you don't know your way around. You probably don't know the language. You don't know where to live. It's just natural to seek out a family member to move in with. And, you know, in reporting my book I found that about 90 percent of all the immigrants that I interviewed moved in with their families when they first came. It's just a natural way to do it.

MCEVERS: President Trump says he wants to shift to a merit-based immigration program. At the same time, the White House proposal calls for getting through the backlog of family applicants first.

MCEVERS: How long could that take?

GJELTEN: Oh, it could take decades. We're talking about a change that'll take place over the course of many years. Nobody that's in line now will lose their place. So you'd have to work through that backlog before you'd see this big change with one exception, Kelly - parents of U.S. citizens now can come in without numerical limitation. There's no cap on them. There's no backlog in their case. So they would be immediately affected by this change were it to become law. And one other thing - if this were to become law you would have a lot of people who haven't yet applied for a visa and who wouldn't be able even to get in line. So you'd see an immediate outcry from that population.

MCEVERS: NPR's Tom Gjelten, thanks a lot.

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Watch the video: Ellis Island - History of Immigration to the United States. 1890-1920. Award Winning Documentary (July 2022).


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