New Perspectives on THE WEST
The Program People Places Events Resources Lesson Plans Quiz
Message From Sponsor
The People
Empire Upon The Trails
Speck of the Future
Death Runs Riot
The Grandest Enterprise Under God
Fight No More Forever
The Geography of Hope
One Sky Above Us
The Geography of Hope


The Exodusters

Rain Follows the Plow

A Hard Time I Have


The Romance of My Life

The Barrio

I Must Lose Myself Again

Friends of the Indian

Medicine Flower

Hell Without the Heat

Gunpowder Entertainment

Final Vision

THE WEST The Geography of Hope


Chinese Workers in California

We are taught to believe... that your government is founded and conducted upon principles of pure justice and that all of every... race and creed are here surely protected in person, liberty and property.
Chung Sun

When he came to Los Angeles in October of 1871, Chung Sun had $600 and dreams of becoming a wealthy tea planter in Southern California. But soon after his arrival, he became caught up in a violent race riot that brought mobs of European immigrant workers -- French, German, Irish -- storming into the Chinese section of town. When it was over, 23 Chinese had been hanged, stabbed or shot to death, and Chung Sun had been beaten and robbed of his savings.

[Aftermath of anti-Chinese rioting in Seattle]Throughout the 1870s, similar riots erupted across the West, as an economic depression led American workers to accuse Chinese immigrants of taking away their jobs.

We intend to try and vote the Chinaman out, to frighten him out, and if this won't do, to kill him out, and when the blow comes we won't leave a fragment for the thieves to pick up.... The heathen slaves must leave this coast, if it costs 10,000 lives.
Denis Kearney
The Workingman's Party

In Rock Springs, Wyoming, whites murdered 28 Chinese during an all-day riot. In Tacoma, Washington, the state militia had to be called in to restore order after rioters burned and looted the Chinese part of town. And in Seattle, Washington, Chinese were rounded up, forced onto ships and sent out to sea.

Chung Sun, meanwhile, took a job as a ditch digger, but when the ditch was finished, he could find no work at all. A new California law made it illegal to hire Chinese workers. Then, in 1882, western politicians and labor unions persuaded Congress to pass the Chinese Exclusion Act, which prohibited nearly all immigration from China for a period of ten years.

Ronald Takaki"For the first time in the history of the United States, the government decided to exclude a group of immigrants on the basis of race. And it set a precedent ... because for the first time you have this new thinking introduced ... We can not only determine who could become citizens in this country, but we could determine who could come to this country."
Ronald Takaki

Chinese Railroad WorkersIn California, Chung Sun set sail for home.

I hope you will pardon my expressing a painful disappointment. The ill treatment of... [my] countrymen may perhaps be excused on the grounds of race, color, language and religion, but such prejudice can only prevail among the ignorant. In civility... [Americans] are very properly styled barbarians.
Chung Sun

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