Narrator: In 1910 — as Chinatown rose from the ashes and rubble of the earthquake — and as enforcement issues of the Exclusion Act spiked upward — a new immigration facility opened on an island far out in San Francisco Bay — that in the years to come would become synonymous with the hardships, heartbreak, and long-deferred or broken dreams of the Exclusion era. And it was intended to die off… Narrator: By 1876, a starkly reconsolidated white racial calculus was on the rise across America — from the streets of San Francisco to the halls of Congress. But Bigler raises this spectre of the coolie. The Chinese laborer will work cheaper for a Chinese employer than he will for a white man, as has been invariably proven, and, as a rule, he boards with his Chinese employer. That whenever there's some danger, there's always opportunity. By 1882, everyone agreed to restrict immigration, partly because violent fights between Americans and Chinese were breaking out across the country, and the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed.
These are their names — these are their ages. Scott Wong, Historian: So you see Chinese predominantly living in Chinatowns — ethnic enclaves — for two reasons. Whatever business or trade they enter is doomed for the white laborer, as competition is surely impossible. Margins and Mainstreams: Asian in American History and Culture. Background of the Chinese Exclusion Act In 1848, miners struck gold in California. After the railroad was finished, many Chinese continued to find work elsewhere within the West. Can we afford to include another race problem? In addition, Congress sought to curtail the ability of Chinese laborers to return to the U.
We warn workingmen that a new and dangerous foe looms up in the far west. Ling-chi Wang, Scholar: And they found out very quickly, the Chinese are very diligent; very reliable; very hardworking. Southern Senators and Congressmen voted for Chinese exclusion — not because they had a Chinese issue within their own constituency, but because they felt if they attuned themselves to the political exclusionary interests on the Pacific coast, they would gain sympathy for what they wanted to do in their own region of the country, to voters of African background. This placed even more restrictions on the Chinese, by making them carry certificates of identity and residence, which contained their photographs and personal details. Some of it has to do with the fact that we excluded Chinese for 60 years.
David Lei, Community Advocate: Many people think of this Exclusion law as being very racist, very unfair. Despite the nice pay, the work was backbreaking and highly dangerous. And you can see that from what they accomplished — the triumph of taking on the Sierra Nevada, the same way that, 2,000 years earlier, we took on the great mountains of China and built the Great Wall. Renqiu Yu, Historian: When we look back, I think we can learn that, the Chinese have this resilient faith in the founding principles. Ling-chi Wang, Scholar: The first Opium War ended in 1841 with the Treaty of Nanking.
Mae Ngai, Historian: And in their wake, come merchants, who also smell opportunity. Mary Ting Yi Lui, Historian: You see people immediately taking up the pen, and writing essays. Though the government had no role in it, the protests were unofficially allowed to continue. Mae Ngai, Historian: China really didn't want to buy much from the United States or from England. There was an ordinance that said that any Chinese who was arrested would have his hair shorn to within an inch of his scalp. It is a most serious mistake for the citizens of the Eastern States to believe that anti-Chinese sentiment is limited to any particular class or faction, creed or nationality. She is a New York-based film editor and has collaborated with Director Ric Burns for the past twenty-three years.
Mae Ngai, Historian: The city passed numerous ordinances to harass the Chinese, thinking that if you made life miserable enough for people, they would leave. Voice The Workingman's Advocate : February 6 th, 1869. The Chinese identify with this fundamental principle of liberty, equality and justice for all, and all men are created equal. Connecticut State Library Courtesy Of Allen County Public Library And Indiana State Museum Courtesy Of Amon Carter Museum Of American Art Archives, Fort Worth, Texas Courtesy Of The Society Of California Pioneers David Rumsey Map Collection Degolyer Library, Southern Methodist University Edmund A. The anti-Chinese sentiment did not escape Washington state. Congress also refused State and Federal courts the right to grant citizenship to Chinese resident aliens. He is looked upon as a vagabond, unfit to associate with his employer of to eat from the same table with him.
Both prerequisites reflected the class-based discrimination inherent within the Chinese Exclusion Act; only a relatively wealthy Chinese immigrant would meet the requirements for return. It was called the Chinese Exclusion Act — and it was unlike any law enacted since the founding of the republic. About the Moderator Gordon Quan has had a long history of community activism. And so eloquently articulated in the Declaration of Independence and in American Constitution. If you want to know more about this time period in United States history, check out of resources. So Central Pacific has this idea to use Chinese. A large part of these immigrants were Chinese, who faced abject poverty back home owing to a civil war.
One is an exclusion from immigration, and the other thing was an exclusion from citizenship. But are the Chinese allowed to come? 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. And he begins to articulate the idea that will become the constant in anti-Chinese politics for years to come — which is the idea that Chinese are coolies, or that they are serfs or slaves; that they come under bondage. So that now, hundreds and thousands of Chinese are every week flocking into our State. He also has chaired the Asian Chamber of Commerce and is Vice-Chair of the Asia Society Texas Center. And as they capture Chinese people, they lynch them. The Qing Dynasty — the Chinese government — is falling apart.
And at that time the San Francisco collector of customs is a well-known anti-Chinese opponent named John Wise. Kevin Starr, Historian: They organized themselves; they were capable of hard work; they took great chances; and they were physically strong. And they have the hardest jobs — they go through the Sierras; over the Sierras; they work under the snow in the winter. Many Chinese-Americans join the army. Join Asia Society and co-presenters for a short film screening of The Chinese Exclusion Actand an enlightening conversation focusing on the value of immigration and the future of the U.
For the 35,000 Chinese immigrants who by 1861 were struggling to make a life for themselves in California, the war would bring new challenges, new dangers — and new opportunities. Not just people from China. But because of your laws, I can't bring my wife. They couldn't believe it, the government did that. And the opium trade is all part of this, too. President Arthur at first vetoed the act believing that it violated the terms of the 1868 Burlingame Treaty with China. In the decades to come , the spare eighty-word text would form a last slender line of defense for the Chinese in America — as the country began a long slow descent — into an abyss of hatred and violence — directed against all people of color.