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Our victories, obstacles and leaders

Discover additional specific info on the many links (outlined in "red" or "blue") listed below


Americans have long stereotyped
19th Century Chinese immigrant women as prostitutes, and as with all stereotypes, the characterization contains some truth. In the first revealing article on Chinese immigrant women, Historian/Author Lucie Cheng estimated that the proportion of prostitutes among the Chinese female population in San Francisco was 85 percent in 1860 and 71 percent in 1870. These lurid numbers fueled anti-Chinese agitation in California, resulting in enactment of the Page Act of 1875 and the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which excluded most women by portraying them all as prostitutes. Page Law bars entry of Chinese, Japanese, and "Mongolian" prostitutes, felons, and contract laborers.


The American Medical Association sponsored a study to investigate assertions that Chinese women were spreading a unique, "Chinese" strain of syphilis. Though the study found no evidence to support the claim, one medical publication, The Medico- Literary Journal, nevertheless accused the Chinese of "infusing a poison in the Anglo-Saxon blood."

In 1876, San Francisco’s Chinatown was a cramped world of narrow, lantern-lined streets and alleys, shops, restaurants and theaters. Scarcely a quarter-century old, it had arisen during the gold rush as the business and cultural for Chinese who flocked to the mines. It had become an insulated world, infrequently visited by whites (many of whom loathe the presence of any Asians in the United States), and often ignored by the rest of the city.

The theater provided a means of escape from the sense of isolation that often pervaded Chinatown. In San Francisco there were two Chinese theaters, with the Chinese Royal Theater at 622 Jackson Street, near Dupont, being the most popular. Across the street was the Chinese Thespian Temple. Chinese plays were rather dull affairs to the American eye, but the Chinese enjoyed them. Usually they were representations of historical events – a consecutive nightly presentation that might last three months. In the traveling companies, only men could appear on stage and any female parts were played by a male. When a character died on stage, after giving his last grasp, he simply got up and walked off stage rather than bringing down the curtain to signal the event. In fact, there was no curtain.

Lawsuits by Chinese Actors
N.Y. Times / July 21, 1877
In June, 1876, a company of nine Chinese dramatic artists arrived in the port of San Francisco under a year's engagement to Ngn Fun Choy, lessees and general managers of the Royal Chinese Theatre on Jackson-street. The contract had been prudently made in China, where the laws regulating even the employment of theatrical people are as severe as those of New Jersey in regard to prize fighting, and as unalterable as those of the Medes and Persians and other people in that vicinity. . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . the troupe had learned that for the regulation Asiatic tragedy in 5,000 acts, with which they proposed following up their little humorous representation, they could make much more profitable terms with the Luk Suhn Fung Company, managers of the Oriental Academy of Music, directly opposite the Chinese Royal Theater. Between the two theaters there is a bitter rivalry, wherein, as in most other things, the Chinaman is not an exception to any other nationality. . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . Upon gaining their freedom they have each instituted action in the Fifteenth District Court to recover from the company $1,200 for false imprisonment, and the lessees of the Academy of Music have, in the same Court, likewise commenced an action to recover from the same company $5,000 for preventing the fulfillment of their contract. A week or two ago the released artists opened at the opposition theater.

The excitement in Chinese circles had been intense, with the sentiment all in favor of the oppressed actors . . . . . Upon examination it was found to proceed from a piece of punk which communicated with a slow fuse, and which, in turn was connected with a deposit of from 10 to 12 pounds of powder so tamped and arranged that it would, on its explosion that night, have blown Messrs. Luk Suhn Fung Company’s Academy of Music and their talented histrionic celebrities and their patrons even further from China than they are at present. This well laid plan of wholesome murder, which was so accidentally averted, is not the only evil growing out of the contention of the theatrical companies.

The Chinese theaters were unusual in other aspects, too. The stage was simple, sets were minimal and, aside from a few box seats, the audience sat mostly on benches. An orchestra consisted usually of five or six musicians playing gongs, drums, oriental fiddlers and other assorted instruments. There was no shouting or yelling by the audience, as in American theater. The Chinese patron was content to merely nod or sigh in reflecting emotion.

Special police were employed by the Chinese – white men who were members of the police force, but paid by the Chinese property owners. They kept order in the “Quarter,” and did what they could to hold down vice, but frequently were compromised to overlook dozens of gambling and opium dens, as well as the bordellos of Chinatown. The theaters could also be trouble spots. There had been several recent near-riots in a Chinese theater, when individuals wanting free admissions would yell “fire” in a theater window. In the resulting exodus they either purloined a ticket, or re-entered unnoticed with the returning crowd of regular patrons. The San Francisco Chronicle reported:

“The terror-stricken audience, not delaying to look around and determine the truth or falsity of the cry, would rush for the door over the benches and in the greatest confusion. The policeman who was watchful would quickly swing open the closed doors and, drawing his club, push his way in until he reached a bench where he would stand frantically waving the crowd back and applying his club vigorously to the ones in front. The sight of the officer would immediately allay the fears of the Chinamen in the rear and . . . . . .

On the sidewalk, a hoodlum asked if any white men had been killed. When he was assured that only Chinese had died, he replied, motioning with his foot toward the many bodies, “Good, it don’t matter about these.”

The dead were all laid out at the coroner’s office on Sacramento Street. A huge crowd of curious whites attempted to view the bodies and, finally, it was announced that only Chinese would be admitted to identify the nineteen victims. The verdict of the coroner’s jury was that the theater deaths were accidental, but it was recommended that the grand jury look into “the construction of said theater as regards its means of egress.”

The bodies were placed in express wagons and taken to various homes, while others were prepared for shipment back to China. As Chinatown mourned, the rest of San Francisco fast lost interest in the tragedy and went back to work. \


Harte and Twain's
Ah Sin is perhaps the most influential of plays that satirized the Anti-coolie clubs, anti-Chinese movements and benigh stereotypes through their the mischievous, gibberish-speaking Ah Sin.

Ah Sin, and other below-listed plays, testify to the history of the numerous legal, institutional, and social efforts to control Chinese access to the literal and imagined borders of the United States during the later nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

From short amateur vignettes to full-length professional works, each provides insight into the place of the Chinese immigrant in a changing American racial hierarchy and into the uses of the stage as a means of focusing and altering public opinion.

Rife with infantile, demonic, and/or exotic characterizations, these plays serve as powerful reminders of how theatre articulates race through the language of distorted physicality (in stereotypes such as Bret Harte and Mark Twain's Ah Sin, popular for his "grotesque gestures of roguish delight") or through spectacular Oriental fantasies (as embodied in the "splendid Chinese tent" of the Ravel family's pantomime Kim--Ka! or the Misfortunes of Ventilator [1852]) (2).

Worries over the Chinese male immigrant as a threat to white masculine dominance in the labor market and in the home fuel these exaggerated representations. Henry Grimm's The Chinese Must Go (1879) and Joseph Jarrow's The Queen of Chinatown (1899) depict Chinese characters as opium pushers and enslavers of white women, who gleefully foresee an economic takeover: "By and by, no more white workingman in California; all Chinaman--sabee?" (The Chinese Must Go, 99).


Founded in 1876 as Chinese Presbyterian Church by the Rev. Ira M. Condit, a former missionary to China, True Light's history is synonymous with the history of the Chinese in Los Angeles. Condit began the ministry with children whose parents worked in Chinatown's laundries, produce markets and restaurants. The parents were delighted to send their youngsters to Condit for free tutoring and baby-sitting.

"Little did they realize that God was at work to use those opportunities as a way to grow a Chinese Presbyterian Church," Pastor Lai said. "When those children grew up and became Christians, they became the leaders of the church, and through their witness and influence, many of their parents were led to Christ," he wrote in a booklet on the history of the church.

In San Francisco, the
Gospel Society became the first Japanese American community organization on record. They provided services for the immigrant community, including English lessons, meeting rooms, and a boarding house. The Japanese Christian churches that were established in the 1890s grew out of this organization.


On October 27, 1878, addressing a mass meeting of New York City's tobacco workers engaged in the struggle to end tenement house production of cigars, Strasser, according to a news report in the Nov. 5 issue of the New York Tribune, made a speech in which he said that when the Chinese cigar makers in California began to crowd the whites out of the work, the latter succeeded in passing a State law requiring every cigar factory to affix on each box a union stamp, by which cigars made by white men could be distinguished from those made by Chinese; and the public showed their condemnation of Chinese work by refusing to smoke cigars made by Chinamen.

The Cigar Makers' Official Journal, a monthly publication of the CMIU, ional tool, analogizing the fight carried on by white California cigar makers against their Chinese fellow workers to his own ultimately successful effort to expel from that line of work the "tenement scum,"i.e., rival socialist cigar makers who had broken with the Gompers-Strasser festablished in November, 1875, began to editorialize against Chinese cigar makers on a regular basis after November 8, 1877 when, in the midst of the tenement house work stoppage, the New York World printed the aforementioned false rumor that cigar manufacturers had requested that 300 Chinese cigarmakers be sent to New York City to replace the whites on strike.

According to the notes supplied by the editor of Volume I of the Gompers Papers, "The journal subscribed to the view generally expressed in the American press of the time that Chinese workers unlike other immigrant groups, could not be assimilated into American culture."

A central plank of what would become the Sinophobic and racialist ideology of the burgeoning AFL was put together by Gompers and Strasser, the latter of whom adopted the insidious "white label" as a nataction and formed the Progressive Cigar Makers Union . . . . together with Gompers, to use Mink's way of wording the issue, "defended the anti-Chinese posture of their California colleagues and actively involved themselves in the exclusion movement."

In "re. Ah Yup" rules that Chinese are not eligible for naturalized citizenship.


One of the first
Chinese college in America. It taught Americans the Chinese language - it also provided chances to Chinese to study in America. Since the early 19th century, New England has been the Mecca for Chinese students and scholars.


In 1876, the South Pacific Coast Railroad began building tunnels south through steep pine-forested ranges down the eastern San Francisco Bay area toward San Jose to open up the Santa Cruz Mountains and coastal cities to tourist trade at the cost of $110,500 per mile – highest in California at the time. Company president Alfred E. Davis tried to save money by purchasing huge tracks of land, and constructing a successions of buildings, roundhouses and depots, Davis often moved along ahead of his surveyors. Gangs of Chinese laborers, many of them imported earlier to build the transcontinental railroad, did much of the grading and excavation.

By early February 1879, the Chinese workers had completed one of six tunnels for the route, and had bored and blasted some 2,300 feet into solid rock to create Tunnel Number 2. Progress was in inches and feet, but the crews kept up their relentless pace. Tracks were laid into the tunnel so that the rock could be easily removed in small cars. At one point, a seam in the rock was opened by a blast in the tunnel, and the fumes of the coal oil became apparent. A ten-ton air pump was installed to minimize the chance of an explosion, and foremen used lighted candles on poles to clear fumes during the shift changes. Generally, it worked, but it was a risky method – as events would later prove.

On the night of February 12, a larger than usual quantity of gas accumulated during the crew change and the usual clearing process turned deadly. The San Francisco Alt reported: “The most terrible explosion followed. The report was heard for miles, and a volume of flame shot through the tunnel and from its mouth to the height of 200 feet in the air. The blacksmith shop, distant about seventy yards from the mouth of the tunnel, was blown to pieces. A few minutes after the explosion, Hyland, the foreman, groped out of the death hole, and was soon followed by three or four of the Chinamen, all of them hairless and horrible burned about the heads, necks and hands.” While the crew members had survived, all were terribly seared, several having their eyes burned out.

During this tragic setback, the gangs of workers finished the Number 2 tunnel and were soon working on the longest tunnel, Number 3, at Wright’s Station. By Fall – significant progress had been made and, by late November, only some 700 feet remained to complete the tunnel. Unfortunately, the coal oil problem persisted, despite the continued use of the air pumps. On the night of November 18, 1879, a particular large charge of powder had been detonated in the tunnel at 11:30 P.M. The San Jose Daily Mercury recounted what happened next: “The explosion of the powder seem to have liberated a large quantity of petroleum gas, for it was almost immediately followed by a blaze and an explosion which aroused the whole camp at the mouth of the tunnel, and all the people residing in the vicinity. The Chinamen outside were greatly alarmed for their comrades, and rushed in with their naked torches. Before they had proceeded far they were met by Perry Hinkle, the superintendent, and Thomas Jackson, the car driver. Soon another and still more terrific explosion took place, shaking the ground as by an earthquake, and hurling everything in its path to destruction.”

Meanwhile, fourteen burned and mangled bodies had been retrieved some 2,000 feet inside the tunnel. There were twenty-seven dead by this time, and several more died later. “There ought to be some stringent restrictions against such careless men,” noted the Mercury, but it seems there are not, and con-tractors are not likely to make them. Yet they did. When worked assumed in December, larger blowers were put into service, safety fuses were used to detonate the gas, and electric lights replaced far less safe kerosene lamps. Still, several explosions occurred, which caused sixty Chinese to quit and be replaced by Cornishmen from the nearby New Almaden quicksilver mines. The South Pacific Coast Railroad reached Felton the following year, and a vacation and tourist playground was opened up. Soon forgotten were the laborers who paid with their lives to make it all possible. In Washington, congressional committees worked on anti-Chinese legislation in a country that had decided Asian immigrants took too many jobs away from white citizens


California's second constitution prevents municipalities and corporations from employing Chinese. California state legislature passes law requiring all incorporated towns and cities to remove Chinese outside of city limits, but U.S. circuit court declares the law unconstitutional.

1879 - 1909  

Just as the Japanese were arriving in the United States, the development of irrigation in California opened the way for intensive agriculture and a shift from grain to fruit and vegetable production. Between 1879 and 1909, the value of crops from intensive agriculture skyrocketed from just 4 percent to 50 percent of all crops grown in California. This transformation occurred under a market stimulus created by two key technological achievements of the period-the completion of the national railroad lines and the invention of the refrigerated car. Consequently, for the first time perishable fruit and vegetables from California could be sold almost anywhere in the United States.

Japanese farmers were able to capitalize on these developments. As early as 1910 they produced 70 percent of California's strawberries, and by 1940 they grew 95 percent of fresh snap beans, 67 percent of fresh tomatoes, and 95 percent of the celery. In 1900, California's Japanese farmers owned or leased twenty-nine farms totaling 4,698 acres; five years later the acreage jumped to 61,858; and by 1910 it reached 194,742 acres. Even the California Alien Land Law of 1913, which prohibited "aliens ineligible to citizenship" from owning land or leasing it for more than three years failed to stem this trend.

By 1920 Japanese farmers owned or leased 458,056 acres. Despite protests from Japan, a U.S. ally in the First World War, a California initiative passed in 1920 closed the loopholes in the 1913 act, and Japanese landholdings dropped dramatically.


The Arizona Weekly Star ran an editorial in 1879 portraying them as " an ignorant, filthy, leprous horde." The Tucson paper, El Fronterizo, described the Chinese in 1892 as "the most pernicious and degraded race on the globe," and in 1894 as "a fungus that lives in isolation, sucking the sap of the other plants." This racism, and the fear of having to compete with Chinese workers for jobs, eventually led Anglo and Mexican laborers to violence. Chinese workers were attacked in railroad camps and mining towns. Instead of taking a stand against prejudice, the railroad and mine managers chose to phase-out Chinese laborers as a "solution" to the violence and unrest. By the early 20th century, the
Chinese had been driven out of Arizona's mines and railroads.

An editorial in The Santa Cruz Sentinel in 1879, for example, described the Chinese as "half-human, half-devil, rat-eating, rag-wearing, law-ignoring, Christian-civilization-hating, opium-smoking, labor-degrading, entrail-sucking Celestials."

Another California newspaper, The Dutch Flat Forum, struck a similar chord at the time. "Women of California," it asked, "why do you persist in having your dirty linen fouled by unclean hands, under the pretense of having it cleansed? Do you not know that (in these exciting times when the Chinese are losing employment, and naturally mad at the white race) you are taking desperate chances of having disease introduced among us that will render desolate our firesides? And in fact we don't know but that the diseases among our children during the past year, which have baffled the skill of our most eminent physicians, and depopulated many households, have emanated from the Chinese."

While Chinese immigrants fared better in Arizona Territory than elsewhere in the West, anti-Chinese feeling occasionally manifested itself in violence and threats of removal. More often, it ook the form of laws restricting the activities of Chinese residents. Territorial criminal court records indicate that as Arizona's Chinese population grew in the late 1870s and 1880s, new laws regulating laundries and opium dens brought more and more Chinese before the judicial bench. Many of these cases resulted in judgments against the defendants.

At the same time, Arizona's Chinese were hardly passive wayfarers in the courts. They hired attorneys to apply the law in their favor. If the Chinese had not challenged their arrests, very few cases involving anti-Chinese discrimination would exist in county superior court records. Many of these briefs appealed lower court rulings involving violations of opium laws, while a few challenged verdicts in assault and petit larceny cases. In some of these appeals, Chinese defendants directly assailed opium ordinances, laundry licensing, and other discriminatory laws, or objected to the discriminatory enforcement of such seemingly unbiased laws as selling cigarettes to minors. In doing so, they also challenged prejudice in late-nineteenth-century America.

Arizona Territory escaped most of the hysteria of the 1850s and 1860s that produced the foreign miner's tax in California and Idaho's monthly head tax, enacted specifically to discourage Chinese immigration. Following complaints about overcrowding, stench, disease, fire hazards, prostitution, and gambling in Chinatowns, California communities passed ordinances regulating Chinese laundries and limiting the number of residents in a dwelling.

Chinese laundries were a common source of complaint in many cities and towns throughout the West. Where racial hostility often barred Chinese from mining and manufacturing, many immigrants were forced to take the only jobs that remained - in restaurants, vegetable farming, laundries, and other service occupations. Ironically, whites who often benefitted from these services, particularly if no one else was willing to take the positions, became alarmed that the Chinese were taking away jobs and money. Prescott and Phoenix newspapers condemned the Chinese monopoly on laundries. They suggested that enterprising whites should open their own establishments in order to promote competition and, also, to discourage immigration.

For some whites, Chinese laundries were more than just an economic threat, they also endangered public health. Territorial newspapers frequently denounced washhouses as "public nuisances," where the "filthy practices of the Chinese in allowing pools of dirty and stinking water to accumulate around their laundries produce breeding places of disease which it is most wise to guard against." An 1896 article in the Tempe News lashed out against "the cesspools of Chinese washhouses," and described "the stench that arises from these places" as "something awful." Local governments responded to these complaints by enacting ordinances that regulated laundries as potential health hazards. "The action of the Common Council of Phoenix in declaring all wash houses in the city limits public nuisances, is commendable," the Arizona Gazette noted in 1881.

In Arizona and elsewhere, the Chinese followed a longstanding tradition of defending their civil rights. Ho Ah Kow v. Nunan , an 1870s California test case, established two important grounds for challenging anti-Chinese legislation:

Ah Lum (along with "China Mary" - his wife) and Quong Gee Kee owned one of the most famous eateries in Tombstone, Arizona - the stomping grounds of Wyatt Earp and his OK Corral gang - the Can Can Restaurant.

Quong Gee Kee
As a long time resident of Tombstone, he knew all of the infamous characters from the 1880's era, some who ate at Can-Can. "Wyatt Earp was a nice fellow," Quong had said. "Lot of times he was hard on other people. Sometimes he would shoot them up." Quong also knew Billy Clanton. "Nice boy, always paid his bills. Too bad he got shot down at the O.K. Corral."

Presumably from Hong Kong, Quong's first job in America was as a cook's helper in Virginia City, Montana. When Virginia City became a ghost town, he opened a restaurant in Stockton, California, saving his money to return to Hong Kong. He made the trip back to Hong Kong where he got married and bought a home. Eight months later he left his pregnant wife to return to America. Quong planned to earn enough money to take back to Hong Kong to comfortably support his family. Once back in America, Quong ran a prosperous restaurant in Wilcox, Arizona called "Hindquarter." Then Quong was lured to the new boom town, Tombstone.


Construction of a transcontinental railroad through Arizona brought in hundreds of Chinese construction workers. By the time the railroad was completed in 1880, the Chinese had settled into nearby towns. They were attracted to Tombstone's silver boom and worked there as cooks, servants, launderers, gardeners, woodcutters and charcoal manufacturers. Between 1879 and 1886, 500 to 800 Chinese lived in Tombstone.

Whites, or "round eyes," opposed the Chinese. On July 24, 1880, the first anti-Chinese meeting was held. Adversaries proclaimed "John Chinaman Must Go!" and threatened to use violence. But the Chinese refused to leave and, fortunately, no action was taken - even though, at one time, the Tombstone's Bird Cage Theatre staged a burlesque play, "The Chinese Must Go."

Although the white settlers frowned on the Chinese' strong cultural ties and apparent opium use and gambling, they abhorred them for not supporting the local economy. Chinese seldom patronized town businesses, imported their clothing and food from China and monopolized services by charging menial wages. When silver mining operations curtailed in 1886, most Chinese left Tombstone to seek jobs elsewhere.

Aside from the graves, few remnants of the once-thriving Chinese community in Tombstone exist today. Big Nose Kate's Saloon has a preserved front page article from the Tombstone Epitaph of Quong's funeral. Every October Tombstone's "Helldorado" commemorates the shooting at the O.K. Corral with re-enactments of various gun battles. One scene portrays an outlaw named Rook who refused to pay for his meal at a Chinese restaurant, then severely beat up the proprietor. The unidentified Chinese grabbed a gun and shot and killed Rook, in the only known incident of a Chinese shootout in Tombstone.

Like the other Chinese, he wasn't interested in shootouts and gun battles. Quong was notoriously kind to his customers. When five rowdy cowboys rustled up the restaurant (wild after months of isolation on the range tore up the restuarant, Quong chose not to have them arrested - ignoring the advice of his friends. "They'll come back and pay up," he inferred. "If I arrest them, I'll lose five friends and good customers." A week later a shamefaced cowboy approached Quong. "We acted like a bunch of fools," the cowboy said. "Me and the boys would like to pay you for busting up the place."

When the mines went bust and Tombstone became a ghost town, Quong's restaurants in Pearce, Charleston and Tombstone closed. People owed Quong money from doing business at the Can Can Restaurant and his two other restaurants out of town. Because of his generous nature, he had more money on the books than in the registers, but he still refused to sue people who owed him money because, as he put it, it would only make the lawyers rich and lose him friends.

Only a few Chinese like Quong Gee Kee remained after 1886 when the mining operations ended. During his final years, Quong rambled the streets of Tombstone. Sadly, he gave up any hopes of returning to Hong Kong. He never saw his son.

In January, 1938, Quong was found unconscious on the floor of his home by Marshal Hal Smith. He was rushed to the hospital in Douglas where he passed away early the next morning. For some unknown reason his body was rushed to Bisbee where it was buried in a pauper's grave in the Evergreen Cemetery.

Despite all his friends, Quong died penniless. But since he was such a well-liked figure in Tombstone, his friends collected a sizeable fund to bury him in style at the historic Boothill Cemetery right next to China Mary (as he had requested) where some 500 people showed up for his burial. Since Quong always claimed to be 10 years younger than he was, when he died in 1938 at age 86 - he might have really been 96. Quong was Tombstone's last Chinese resident. His funeral at Boothill was the first since China Mary died in 1906.

Mrs. Ah Lum / China Mary
Tombstone's China Town was run by Mrs. Ah Lum, "China Mary", who, as her grave marker reads, was "Born in China, Died in Tombstone Dec. 6, 1906, Aged 67 Years." As many as 500 Chinese lived in Tombstone, operating businesses and working in the mines following their release from railroad construction in the 1870s.

China Mary arrived in Tombstone in late 1879 or early 1880. She was a woman of copious frame who wore heavy brocaded silks and rare jewelry. Ah Lum's wife, known as China Mary, was the official queen of Tombstone's Chinatown - which at one point had upwards of 500 people. She had connections to China, imported opium, kept a stable of servants who were guaranteed not to steal, and took in the injured, poor and down-and-out.
(Eddie) Foy Sr. in later years told of an altercation over a girl with fellow actor Charles Chapin (who later hired Toraichi Kono as his driver, personal secretary, a handy man, closest confidante, his caretaker and - according to most accounts, the person that Chaplin trusted more than anyone else) who was drunkenly taking pot-shots at Foy. The gunfire awakened Wyatt Earp, who disarmed the actor and sent both the players home to sleep it off. Foy is also rumored to have been in Tombstone, Arizona in October 1881 appearing at the local theatre when the Gunfight at the OK Corral occurred on the 26th of that month. Click HERE for more info.

Nobody knew her real name or where she was from in China. She married Ah Lum - co-owner of the Can-Can Restaurant with Quong Kee ("Worshipful Master of the Chinese Masonic Lodge") and the two forged power in Tombstone's Chinese sector, which the round eyes called Hoptown. China Mary provided houseboys, servants, maids, launderers, gardeners, cooks and, allegedly, prostitutes or slaves. Only through "China Mary" could townspeople hire a Chinese. She often helped the sick, injured and hungry and even loaned money to strangers who seemed honest. Once she paid for an injured cowboy's medical bills.

Few women in the American West had as much dignity as China Mary had during that time. Her decisions went undisputed and nobody dared to disobey her. No Chinese could be hired except through China Mary; none could be paid: except through China Mary. She also controlled Chinese prostitution and all the opium trade in town. She owned an interest in most Chinese businesses in Tombstone, too. Many believe that the Six Companies sent her there to oversee things and that her marriage to Ah Lum might have been political.

China Mary kept a well-stocked store of Chinese delicacies and art. She apparently ran a gambling operation in hidden rooms and supplied opium to Tombstone dens. A wild and impulsive person, once she dashed off to Tucson with the local blacksmith and was brought back to Tombstone by a cowboy her husband hired. Another time she and two tramps were arrested and jailed for theft and possession of stolen property. China Mary, with her connections in China, imported opium, kept a stable of servants who were guaranteed not to steal, and took in the injured, poor and down-and-out.

Despite that she was Chinese, her shady operations and quirky character - town folk respected and liked China Mary. She would lend money to anyone who impressed her as honest and hard working. No sick, injured or hungry person was ever turned from her door. She once took a cowboy with a broken leg to the Grand Central Boarding House and paid the bill until he recovered.


When the mining operation in Tombstone ceased in 1886, the obvious choice for the Chinese was to go to nearby Bisbee, where copper mining flourished. But they were not welcomed there. Chinese could sell produce in Bisbee during the day, but by sundown they had to skip town. A county judge passed an unwritten law forbidding Chinese from staying overnight in Bisbee. The exclusion was to prevent competition with local laundresses, most of them miners' widows who started laundry businesses to support themselves.

But it was a petty reason to exclude the Chinese. Bisbee was a white man's mining camp, giving preference to Anglos, many of them Europeans. Even Mexicans were underpaid and could not work in the mines. Chinese were at the bottom of the pecking order, enduring harsh discrimination.

She was the absolute ruler of "Hoptown" and all its denizens. China Mary not only ruled them but also virtually owned them body and soul. Her word and her decisions were undisputed law, and no one disobeyed. No Chinese person could be hired except through China Mary; none could be paid, except through China Mary. She also controlled Chinese prostitution and all the opium trade in Tombstone, and owned an interest in most of the Chinese businesses in town. It was extremely unusual for a woman, any woman, to occupy such a position in the American West.

When she died in 1906 at age 67, her funeral was well-attended. As she requested, she was interned at the Chinese section of Boothill instead of following the Chinese tradition of having her bones shipped to China and buried there. Her funeral had all the pomp and ceremony of a lavish Chinese extravaganza. Ah Lum was remarried to a Mexican woman and died in 1906.

Note: Other Chinese such as Sing Wan, Hop Lung and others were buried in the far corner of Boothill Graveyard. The cemetery overlooks Tombstone, Arizona, where during its heyday in the late 19th century, a Chinese community thrived. Yet, the Chinese who toiled in the dusty, desert town seldom made the annals of American history. Tombstone is best known for its famous shootout, Wyatt Earp and Billy Clanton at the O.K. Corral.


California's oldest parade is the key feature of the annual two day Bok Kai Festival in historic downtown Marysville. Each spring, the Bok Kai Temple is visited by Chinese from throughout the United States, Hong Kong and Taiwan. The Temple, built in 1879 by Chinese immigrants, houses many gods, but the primary god is Bok Eye.


Sit Moon was a Chinese immigrant who converted to Christianity and worked for 15 years in the Presbyterian Mission of San Francisco. He was hired by the YMCA in 1875 to evangelize the Chinese laborers in Hawaii. Two years later, he founded "the Chinese YMCA", You Hawk Jihu Taw Hui (the Beginning Evangelical Society of Learners).


Japanese immigrants began moving into the area, which was once a citrus grove, in the 1880s. They established restaurants, grocery stores, businesses and churches that welcomed those who spoke Japanese. By the start of World War II, the population had swelled to 30,000 Japanese and Japanese Americans in and around Little Tokyo, which occupied three square miles.

He was probably one of the When Ah Quin arrived in San Diego on October 25, 1880, the city hummed with excitement as the building of the railroad approached. Frank Kimball, the founder of nearby National City, had been the driving force behind the acquisition of a railroad for San Diego. Inspired by a belief that a railroad terminal would transform National City into a boom town, Kimball had coaxed the directors of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad to route a branch line through San Diego to establish a terminal at National City.

Ah Quin certainly must be ranked among the prominent founders of early San Diego, not only for his accomplishments as a labor broker for San Diego's first railroad, but for his leadership and influence among his fellow Chinese and his ability to develop a network of friends throughout his life from both the Chinese and American communities. When considering the period in which he lived, Ah Quin's accomplishments during his life were remarkable-- his mastery of English, his Christian conversion, his ability to learn and adapt to his environment, and his keeping of a diary in English. The latter, in itself, is a most unique accomplishment and a boon for historians; and when one considers that he was able to raise a family of twelve children in the midst of the notorious Stingaree District, he must also to be ranked as one of San Diego's most noteworthy patriarchs.
Ah Quinn Family Portrait

Ah Quin was an influential and highly respected member of the early Chinese community holding the unofficial of "Mayor of Chinatown." Due to his bilingual capability he became a spokesman for the community and was helpful to others in need. He was often asked to serve the local courts in behalf of other Chinese immigrants. His diary also contained names and addresses of prominent men with whom Ah Quin had contact.

There is no other person in the early history of the Chinese in San Diego who is more deserving of being called the patriarch of the Chinese community than Ah Quin. He stands with the founding fathers of San Diego along with the likes of Alonzo Horton and George Marston.

Early Years in China
Ah Quin was born on December 5, 1848 in a small village in the Hoiping District of Guangdong Province of southern China. He was the eldest son of parents who were farmers. The family name was Tom or usually Romanized in San Diego as Hom, but as often the case with Chinese immigrants, names were misinterpreted by government officials, and he became known as Ah Quin.

When Ah Quin was young, his parents moved to Canton (Guangzhou), the provincial capital. This provided Ah Quin the opportunity to grow up in the city with the greatest exposure to the West. There he learned English and to read and write Chinese. He was exposed to Christian teachings, which led to his conversion, and wandering Chinese scholars. In 1868, Ah Quin's parents decided to send him to America. Like all the families of the time, he was expected to make his fortune and send money back to support the family.

Ah Quin, is the most well-known figure from San Diego's early Chinese community. He came to San Diego around 1880 at the request of George Marston, to be a labor broker for the railroad being built between National City and San Bernardino."
Ah Quinn's Railroad and Family

Despite widespread anti-Chinese sentiment, Ah Quin was well-respected by both the Chinese and white communities. He cut off his queu, wore western clothes, spoke English, and named his children after American presidents.

The early immigrant Chinese are usually a nameless group of men who have never been fully acknowledged for their contributions to the development of California and the West, but Ah Quin is an exception. He was a man respected by all, a successful entrepreneur, a community leader and patriarch, who bridged the gap between the Chinese and the white establishment of his day.

Ah Quin's children made significant steps in achieving acculturation and had American citizenship, which Ah Quin was never able to have because of the exclusion laws. Unfortunately, he never lived long enough to see his grandchildren grow up because in 1914 he was struck by a motorcycle near his home and died at the age of 66.


Chien Lung came to America in 1880 as a teenager. He learned English at the First Chinese Baptist Church and later became one of the most successful farmers in the Sacramento- San Joaquin Delta area. In history books, he is referred to as the "Chinese Potato King" who made a fortune until the Alien Land Laws forced him to sell his land in the 1920s.

Charlie Soong

The first international student for Duke was
Charlie Soong who later became the patriarch of the "Soong Dynasty" in the pre-communist era of China. Also known as Yao-Ju Soong in Chinese, he enrolled in Trinity College, then still in Randolph County, from 1880 to1881 under the sponsorship of Julian S. Carr, but later transferred to Vanderbilt University and graduated from there.

He was one of China’s first westernized millionaires. The patriarch of the parvenu Soong Dynasty was Charlie Soong (aka Yao-Ju Soong in Chinese / 1866 - 1918) who was one of the founders of the Chinese revolutionary organization “Xing Zhong Hui” that played a major role in the 1911 Chinese Revolution. This Methodist minister and businessman spent 15+ years during the latter part of the 19th century in the United States while earning a degree in theology at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. He is the father of the famous three Soong sisters. His eldest son, Mr. Song Zi Wen (aka T.V. Soong) was a successful businessman.

Through his various business efforts (publishing Bibles, commercial publishing), he became extremely wealthy by the turn of the century as a merchant, banker and owner of noodle factories. This was achieved through the financial assistance of his adoptive American father (tobacco magnate Julian S. Carr of Durham, North Carolina), monies from his wife’s dowry and gangsters. His financial status provided the opportunities to assisted Sun Yat-sen’s efforts while allowing him to have his children educated with the safety of the United States.

His new financial status also provided the opportunities for his daughters to play an influential role in the government of the Republic of China, the Chinese revolt against the Manchu dynasty and subsequent events. Charlie was a friend and financial supporter of his second daughter's (Soong Ching-ling / 1892 - 1981) husband - Dr. Sun Yat-sen, along with the assistance of Julian S. Carr who funded his early education while supporting his various business pursuits. With his wife Kwei Twang Nyi (daughter of one of China’s most powerful Tongs and a devoted Christian wife) – he had his children. The eldest daughter of the Dynasty, Soong Ai-ling (1890 - 1973) married Kung Hsiang-hsi, called H. H. Kung (1881-1967), a wealthy banker. Charlie's youngest daughter, Soong Mei-ling (1897- 2003) married Chiang Kai-shek. His three sons were T.V., T.L. and T.A. (Using Anglicized initials, for the boys, rather than one's Chinese name was considered fashionable in Shanghai) The above-listed factors and entities brought his three daughters to heady heights of success and notoriety.

Success was achieved by Charles Soong's three biological sons, who were among the richest people in the world. T.V. Soong, was not only prime minister of nationalist China, but later became a millionaire by taking advantage of an artificially controlled government currency exchange rate. Before, during, and after World War II, T.V. Soong converted U.S. foreign aid money and Christian missionary, charitable contributions, primarily from the United States, into millions of dollars on the Chinese foreign currency market--at a profit as high as 2000:1. Charlie Soong's other two sons, T.L. and T.A. Soong began family finance dynasties in New York and San Francisco, respectively.

Soong Family

Charlie (Han Chiao-shun) was a Hainan merchant’s son whose family operated a junk off Hainan Island, trading along the coast of China and throughout Asia-Pacific. His humble roots started when Captain Eric Gabrielson made Charlie the ship boy and a paid crew member of the Revenue Service of the US Treasury Department – an odd relationship considering the Treasury Department's beloved 1940s rhyme - "Sing a Song of Six Soongs." He left an apprenticeship in the East Indies and left with his uncle in China for America. While employed in his uncle’s tea shop, Charlie set his sights on obtaining an education in America. Dissatisfied with a shopkeeper’s life - in January 1879, he boarded a Coast Guard cutter headed to the Eastern seaboard. The ship’s captain (Captain Gabrielson), a staunch Methodist, took the boy under his tutelage, and Charlie first learn of Christianity.

In the Coast Guard’s service, Charlie followed Gabrielson to Wilmington, North Carolina. In November 1880, Charlie professed his Christian Faith while attending Fifth Street Methodist Church’s revival service. He adapted the Christian name of Charles Jones Soon (the “g” was added later) and his desire to acquired a Christian education from the Methodist Church. As a result, the Wilmington Methodists helped Charlie gain admission to Trinity College (later Duke University) and introSoongjjjjLduced him to tobacco and textile magnate Julian S. Carr. “General” Carr underwrote Charlie’s education at Duke and Vanderbilt. He remained a lifelong friend and supporter even after Charlie’s return to China. Gabrielson’s introduction to Reverend Thomas Page Ricaud helped him reach his education goals while providing the inspiration of adapting his daughter’s name for his own daughter.

In 1886, Charlie returned to China to begin missionary work in Shanghai and rural Kunshan under Methodist missionary Dr. Young J. Allen. During this time, he met Ni Kwei-tseng, the daughter of a Chinese Episcopalian family. Miss Ni was an excellent counterpart to Charlie, whose Americanized speech and mannerisms while providing him added status within the community and while opening new opportunities and fulfilling his dreams for the “new China.”

T.V. Soong
During the late 1880s, Charlie gain greater influence in his ministerial role while becoming prosperous in selling and printing of low-cost Bibles in Chinese. At this time, he and his wife (Kwei-tseng) had their first child was born in 1890 and their second (Ching-ling) in 1892. His son, Tse-ven (styled T.V. in the Western form), was born in 1894; his third daughter (Mei-ling) was born in 1897. Two more boys followed, Tse-liang (T.L.) and Tse-an (T.A.). The daughters began their education at Shanghai’s exclusive McTyeire School for Girls, founded in 1892 by Dr. Allen and an 1864 Wesleyan alumna, Laura Haygood. Ai-ling started school at age five and Ching-ling at seven.

The political climate in China became increasingly dangerous following the Boxer Rebellion of 1900. Charlie foresaw the need to send his children to safety as well as to provide for their higher education. Upon the advice of his missionary friend William Burke for an appropriate college for Ai-ling. Burke, whose family had connections to Macon’s Mulberry Street United Methodist Church, highly recommended Wesleyan College, where his friend Judge DuPont Guerry was then president. Charlie arranged for Ai-ling to enroll as a sub-freshman in 1904.

Charles Jones Soong died May 3, 1918. It was rumored that Charlie Soong was murdered by a slow poison.


It is generally agreed among scholars that the 19th Century Los Angeles Chinese Memorial Shrine is the oldest Chinese American structure in the City of Los Angeles - it may also be the only city landmark recognizing the history and contributions of Chinese Americans.
Memorial Shrine in 1962 The Shrine, built in 1888, is recognized as the earliest structural evidence of Chinese culture in Los Angeles and was declared Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument No. 486 on August 31, 1990. The Chinese Historical Society purchased the Memorial Shrine and the land (204 N. Evergreen Avenue in Boyle Heights) on which it stands on September 17, 1992 to preserve the artifact. Phase One of the Chinese memorial's conservation-construction of a protective wall, wrought-iron fence, steps and a gate-was completed in June of 1995 Phase Two- reinforcing and refurbishing of the monument's structural elements and recreation of its center stone or stele-was completed in June, 1997. Dr. Munson Kwok of the Society remarked, "These pieces of stone bond us to our pasts."

The History of the Shrine
The Chinese memorial shrine in Evergreen Cemetery was built by the people of Los Angeles' Old Chinatown in September of 1888. It consists of two 12-foot-high "kilns" or furnaces that flank a central altar platform. A memorial stone or stele once stood atop the platform; it was removed from the ground where it had fallen and is in storage. The monument is approximately 1,000 square feet.

Los Angeles' Chinese American pioneers burned gold and silver paper-symbolizing money-and the deceased's personal effects and favorite clothing in the Shrine's furnaces. This was said to encourage a comfortable transit to the next life or afterlife and the well-being and abundance of the departed. Elaborate presentations of foods such as a whole roast pig, poultry and other meats, fruits, potable spirits, and joss sticks were placed on the altar at burial and during seasonal rites such as Ch'ing Ming (Chinese Memorial Day), and Ch'ung-Yang Chieh (Hungry Ghosts or All Souls' Day). Memorial Shrine in the 1890's

The Memorial Shrine stands on 9 acre of land that LA City operated as a "Potters Field" or indigent graveyard. Upon start of operations, the Los Angeles' Chinese community adapted a section for its own use that became the City's first dedicated Chinese cemetery. The City sold the 9-acre parcel to the County of Los Angeles in 1917 and there were no further burials in that cemetery after 1924.

In 1937, all recorded Chinese burials in the County Cemetery were returned to China in a joint effort between the Ning Yung, Yin Hoi and Kwong Chow Associations. However, Ch'ing Ming, where families visit ancestors' tombs, clean the grave, and lay out a feast or picnic; along with observance of Ch'ung-Yang Chieh, Hungry Ghosts' Day or All Souls' Day, continued at the Chinese Memorial Shrine in Evergreen Cemetery until approximately 1965.

In 1964, Evergreen purchased back from the County of Los Angeles most of the 9-acre strip it donated to the City in 1877. Evergreen prepared this section, including the Chinese portion, for new burials by covering it with 8 feet of soil.

In 1992, the Chinese Historical Society produced documents from the Los Angeles County Archives proving that in the County Cemetery a fee was charged for Chinese burials, but not for others.

The "ethnic cleansing" of Chinese (including Chinese-Americans) from the American West was one of the darkest chapters in our nation's history. Writes John Higham in Strangers in the Land, "No variety of anti-European sentiment has ever approached the violent extremes to which anti-Chinese agitation went in the 1870s and 1880s." Many of the estimated 200 American lynchings victimizing people of Asian descent occurred during this dark era.

In 1880, many Chinese lived in Hop Alley, Denver's Chinatown. In October of that year an anti-Chinese riot resulted in the lynching of a Chinese man and the injuring of many others. A mob of approximately 3000 people had gathered in Hop Alley, consisting of "illegal voters, Irishmen and some Negroes." Only 8 Policemen were on duty at the outbreak of the riot. Firemen brought in to disperse the crowd hosed them with water but this only made them angrier. The mob began to destroy Chinese businesses, to loot Chinese homes and to injure many Chinese.

According to the Rocky Mountain News, the Chinese quarter was "gutted as completely as though a cyclone had come in one door and passed out the rear. There was nothing left...whole." During this vicious mob attack, a man named Look Young, was dragged down Denver's 19th Street by rioters.

According to a physician, he died "from compression of the brain, caused by being beaten and kicked." Look was twenty-eight years old and employed at the Sing Lee Laundry. He left behind a wife, father, and mother in China, who were wholly dependent upon him for support.

U.S. and China sign treaty giving the U.S. the right to limit but "not absolutely prohibit" Chinese immigration. Section 69 of California's Civil Code prohibits issuing of licenses for marriages between whites and "Mongolians, Negroes, mulattoes and persons of mixed blood." In 1933 the law is amended to include Filipinos and in 1948 the law is finally declared void.


Exclusion Act was the first federal attempt to limit immigration to the US by nationality. The Exclusion Act stated that no skilled or unskilled Chinese laborer could enter the US for ten years; however, certified merchants, students and itinerants could be exempted. This was officially put in action during the 47th Congress that "An act to execute certain treaty stipulations relating to Chinese" (approved May 6, 1882). The Statutes at Large of the United States of America, from December, 1881 to March, 1883. Vol. XXII, pp. 58-62 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1883.) In 1902, the provisions of the Act were extended in hopes of permanently excluding Chinese labor. In hopes of assuming one of the "privileged identities" that would allow entrance into the US, hundreds of Chinese were detained on Angel Island where they were subjected to harsh interrogation. In the end, only one in four immigrants were allowed to land. Some immigrants spent as long as two years on Angel Island waiting and hoping to gain entrance. The Chinese Exclusion Act halts Chinese immigration for 60 years. Chinese community leaders form Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (CCBA or Chinese Six Companies) in San Francisco.

REMEMBERING 1882 PANEL (Part 1 of 8)
Click HERE to Go to Part 2

Panelists Are the Following

Justice Harry Low
He is the former Insurance Commissioner for the State of California, Presiding Judge for the California Court of Appeal and judge for the San Francisco County Superior Court. He was a Past President of the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, the San Francisco Police Commission, Chinese American Citizens Alliance and the Center for Pacific Rim at the University of San Francisco. He has 25 years of judicial experience in civil, criminal, and government law while authoring opinions on virtually every area of California law.

Attorney Michael Lee
He has been the Past President of the Bar Association of San Francisco, Legal Aid Society/Employment Law Center, and the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area. He has argued cases before the United States Supreme Court, U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, and U.S. District Courts. His principal practice areas include complex civil litigation, unfair competition, and employment and labor while serving as a Pro Tem Judge in the San Francisco Superior Court.

Bill Ong Hing
He is a Professor of Law and Asian American Studies at the University of California, Davis. Throughout his career, he has pursued social justice by combining community work, litigation, and scholarship. He has authored books on immigration policy and race relations, including Deporting Our Souls—Morality, Values, and Immigration Policy (Cambridge Univ. Press 2006) and Defining America through Immigration Policy (Temple Univ. Press 2004). He is on the board of directors of the Asian Law Caucus and the Migration Policy Institute and serves on the National Advisory Council of the Asian American Justice Center in Washington, D.C.

Donald Ungar
He has been practicing immigration law since 1962 and has litigated numerous cases before the Board of Immigration Appeals, the federal district courts, and the United States Supreme Court. He is Professor Emeritus at the University of California at Berkeley, Boalt School of Law and was the recipient of the first Jack Wasserman Award for excellence in litigation by the American Immigration Lawyers Association as well as the Phillip Burton Immigration and Civil Rights Award.

Connie Young Yu
She has documented the affect of the exclusion laws on the lives of her grandparents, following a paper trail from Canton to Angel Island to various Chinatowns. She has written extensively on Asian America and issues of civil rights and is a board member of the Chinese Historical Society of America and the Chinese Historical and Cultural Project. Her books include Chinatown, San Jose, USA (History San Jose 2001).

By 1880, Reconstruction was defeated and the federal government joined the anti-Chinese movement. It legalized Jim Crow, reversed the Civil Rights Act, and negotiated a new treaty with China that paved the way for the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.

In the Chinese Exclusion Act and the Alien Land Laws of the 1910s (which deprived Asians of the right to own land), the U.S. racial system also settled on its basic racial categorization of Chinese and other Asians: that of being "aliens ineligible to U.S. citizenship."

This definition applied only to Asians and became the perfect legal grounds systematically to identify and discriminate against them, a racial category of a distinctive type. This category was new in that it incorporated a non-indigenous, non-white, non-black group into the U.S. racial system. It was also new in that the terms "aliens" and "naturalization rights" explicitly incorporated nationality as well as "race" into it.

The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was a culmination of the attempt to create a cross-class, nationwide white consensus to define legally the Chinese place in U.S. life, thereby forcing the country to come to grips with how to handle the intersection of race and nationality. For the first time in U.S. history, a group was excluded from immigrating by (white) immigrants and former immigrants themselves. On one hand, the act was clearly based on nationality, as it excluded a group from immigrating to this country. On the other hand, it was clearly racial: it excluded the Chinese specifically because they were not white. Once verging on 20 percent of California's population, the ensuing anti-Chinese riots and Exclusion Act drove most Chinese laborers out of the country and prevented their reentry.

In the fifty years to follow, the U.S. forced every Asian nationality to follow virtually the same pattern as the Chinese. At first, a significant wave would be allowed entry to serve as racially coerced, cheap labor, especially for California agriculture, then the group would be excluded. The 1917 Immigration Act denied Asian Indians entry. Despite the rising power of the Japanese in the Pacific, Japanese nationals were excluded from the United States by the Immigration Act of 1924 which barred the entry of "aliens ineligible to citizenship." By extension, this act also served to exclude Koreans, as the Japanese colonial administration in Korea applied it to them.

Paper Sons and Daughters exception was the loophole in the law! It stated that any Chinese would not be denied entry if they could prove their citizenship through family ties. People, whose fathers were not in the US could bring papers which identified themselves as children of American citizens - hence "Paper Sons" or "Paper Daughters." Often official records were often non-existent, therefore, an interrogation process was created to determine if the immigrants were related as they claimed.

The single most important force behind the Chinese Exclusion Act was national politicians of both parties who seized, transformed, and manipulated the issue of Chinese immigration in the quest for votes.

For it is an undisputed fact that America's first labor historians took great pride in the role played by organized labor's exclusion of the Chinese worker not only from the United States but also and equally significantly in his (and her) exclusion from trade union membership and eviction from jobs once dearly held.

The anti-Chinese agitation in California, culminating as it did in the Exclusion Law passed by Congress in 1882, was doubtless the most important single factor in the history of American labor, for without it the entire country might have been overrun by Mongolian labor and the labor movement might have become a conflict of races instead of one of classes.

Rose Hum Lee's statement that America's Chinese immigrants "were excluded from skilled occupations by the labour unions' concerted efforts to bar them from shoe, textile, and tobacco making, heavy machinery and other industries." Nor does he acknowledge the comparative point to be made with respect to the allegation that Chinese workingmen were a peculiar species of "cheap labor," although Betty Lee Sung had done so some 31 years before his book was published: "The greatest antagonism against Chinese immigration in former years was directed against the threat of cheap labor."

"Not that the Chinese were different from other immigrant nationalities in this respect . . . But it was felt that because of the greater endurance and efficiency of the Chinese laborer, he was a threat to the job tenure of the white laborer."

Organized labor had, in the words of the labor paper Carpenter, which Gyory quotes approvingly, regarded the Chinese as "dangerous to public health and human decency," but not opposed their immigration provided that it could be proven to be voluntary. Indeed, they only railed against "their importation in hordes, under slavish contracts made in their native country, and held sacred by their religious fears."

From 1897 to 1902, Terence Powderly, former head of the Knights of Labor and an outspoken Sinophobe, served as Commissioner General of Immigration and in 1900 was placed in charge of appeals arising out of the enforcement of the Chinese Exclusion Act and its subsequent modifications.

Two years later, he was replaced by Frank P. Sargent, grand master of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and a friend of Samuel Gompers, the notoriously anti-Chinese leader of the American Federation of Labor, who served until 1908, and he in turn was succeeded for the next five years by Daniel Joseph Keefe, president of the longshoreman's union and a former vice-president of the AFL.

By and large, the men who founded, administered, lobbied, and conducted the meetings and conventions of America's labor unions favored the elimination of the Chinese worker from the labor market as well as the exclusion of the Chinese people from the United States.

The Chinese became not merely the indispensable enemy of Irish workers' opportunities, but also morally inferior people, those farthest down, but, more significantly, the people to be kept out of the labor movement and the country itself. The few Irish-Chinese marriages that had occurred in the early decades of Chinese arrival in the city came to be regarded thereafter as a threat to white civilization. Further, Tchen shows, after Irish minstrels, comedians, and actors began to add scathing stereotypes of Chinese to their popular variety shows in the Bowery, in the process providing Irish workers with a legitimation of their belief that there was a people further down in the social and moral scale than themselves further down, that is, than the Anglo-American Protestants held them to be they facilitated their own ascent into the economically and politically privileged "white" race, leaving behind both black laborers and their erstwhile fellow workers, the Chinese.


Congress passed this law to permit teachers, students, merchants, and tourists to enter the United States, but it stopped the immigration of laborers for ten years. It also stated that no Chinese could become a naturalized American citizen. This was the first of several Chinese Exclusion Acts passed by Congress. It severely curtailed Chinese immigration until 1943. By 1920, the Chinese American population shrinks by 40% as a result.

As the Western frontier matured, the growth of industry gave rise to a white laboring class. Those with grievances against capitalist exploitation found a convenient scapegoat in the Chinese. Finding big business too powerful to fight, working class Americans struck instead at the Chinese minority.

November 3, 1877 Letter from the Six Chinese Company to mayor of San Francisco was told the Chinese question. On the Chinese Exclusion Page 32 " Political careers balanced on the scale of the Chinese Question. The Chinese Question was expressed in terms of race." Anti-Chinese riots and conventions occupied western politics for over several decades.

Lee York Suety, the son of a transcontinental railroad worker, Lee Wong San, was born in S.D., but his wife was detained in Angel Island for 16 months when she immigrated to the United States from China.

Forty-Seventh Congress. Session I. 1882
Chapter 126.-An act to execute certain treaty stipulations relating to Chinese.
Approved, May 6, 1882.
Preamble. Whereas, in the opinion of the Government of the United States the coming of Chinese laborers to this country endangers the good order of certain localities within the territory thereof: Therefore,

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That from and after the expiration of ninety days next after the passage of this act, and until the expiration of ten years next after the passage of this
act, the coming of Chinese laborers to the United States be, and the same is hereby, suspended; and during such suspension it shall not
be lawful for any Chinese laborer to come, or, having so come after the expiration of said ninety days, to remain within the United States.

To read the entire bill, click HERE

Additional sources regarding this can be found in the book that was published by the Philadelphia: Temple University Press in 1991 entitled "Entry Denied: Exclusion and the Chinese Community in American (1882-1943) that was edited by Sucheng Chan. Book contains the writings of Charles J. McClain and Laurene Wu McClain (The Chinese Contribution to the Development of American Law), Christian G. Fritz (Due Process, Treaty Rights, and Chinese Exclusion, 1882-1891), Lucy E. Salyer (Laws Harsh as Tigers: Enforcement of the Chinese Exclusion Laws, 1891-1924), Sucheng Chan (The Exclusion of Chinese Women), L. Eve Armentrout Ma (Chinatown Organizations and the Anti-Chinese Movement, 1882-1914), Him Mark Lai (The Kuomintang in Chinese American Communities Before World War II), Wesley Woo (Chinese Protestants in the San Francisco Bay Area), Sau-ling C. Wong (The Politics and Poetics of Folksong Reading: Literary Portrayals of Life under Exclusion)

An example of how widespread and
strong anti-Chinese feelings were was the declaration by California Governor George C. Perkins making March 4, 1882. a legal holiday for anti-Chinese Demonstrations.

Lecturer, showman, activist, provocateur and journalist
Wong Chin Foo begins a weekly bilingual newspaper, the Chinese American. He is an outspoken critic of stereotypes held by Americans of Chinese and Chinese Americans. He wanted more than a new immigration law, more even than equal rights. For him it was also personal: he wanted respect.

He put the word Chinese American onto his newspaper like a banner and claiming America for himself. In the process, claiming America for the rest of the Chinese American community. More visionary than businessman, he printed eight thousand copies of his paper for a New York Chinese population of under a thousand. In less than a year, his venture was dead. But he wouldn't quit. In 1883, that great baiter of the Chinese -- their arch-enemy Dennis Kearney -- was touring the East. But Wong was probably the first to proclaim a New World identity Chinese American (the name of his short-lived weekly broadside, New York's first Chinese newspaper).

He (along with crusading newspaper editor and progressive opponent of exclusionism, Ng Poon Chew) was one of the first activists for Chinese citizenship and voting rights, these essays speak eloquently about the early struggles in the Americanization movement through the first influential and short-lived anti-exclusionist East Coast Chinese newspaper - appropriately entitled publication "The Chinese American." (Hua Mei Xin Bao). Wong Chin Foo stated "Remember the politician who lords it over you today is a coward. When you don't [have the] vote, they denounce you as a reptile; the moment you appear at the ballot box, you are a brother and are treated to cigars and beers."

In any true labor history of the late 19th century, Wong Chin Foo should be included, for he was the principal leader of the Chinese community's attempt to overcome the citizenship provisions of the Chinese Exclusion Act, and in 1892 founder and secretary of the Chinese Equal Rights League of America, an association of English-speaking Chinese dedicated to securing the civil rights of all Chinese in the United States. According to the New York Times, the League's members "wore American clothes, . . . patent leather shoes and white neckties, "thus displaying openly the lie of unadaptability broadcast nationwide by the spokesmen for the white labor unionists.

1882 Chinese Exclusion Law amended to require a certificate as the only permissible evidence for reentry. Joseph and Mary Tape sue San Francisco school board to enroll their daughter Mamie in a public school. Chinese Six Companies sets up Chinese language school in San Francisco. United Chinese Society established in Honolulu.


Labor unions in Butte ordered Chinese immigrants to leave town, with no results. In 1891-92 and again in late 1896 during another nationwide depression, the labor unions boycotted Chinese-owned businesses as well as businesses employing Chinese, blaming the immigrants for the adverse economic climate. Union flyers promoting the boycott, several of which are featured as document 1, were one means of notifying members and encouraging the general public not to patronize these establishments.

While many Chinese fled Butte, some merchants retaliated in federal court. In Hum Lay, et al. v. Baldwin, also known as the Chinese Boycott Case, an injunction to stop the boycott was sought by Chinese merchants. The court paperwork lists 132 Chinese names. The affidavit of Huie Pock and Quon Loy, testimony in this case, is the second featured document. The case was heard in the Circuit Court of the United States, Ninth Circuit, District of Montana, and contrary to the prevailing public attitude of the time, the court ruled in favor of the Chinese plaintiffs. The defendants were "enjoined and refrained from further combining or conspiring to injure or destroy the business of the said complainants or any of them and from threatening, coercing or injuring any person or persons becoming or intending to become patrons of said complainants." The Chinese also recovered costs of $1750.05 from the defendants for fees and expenses.

The relief sought was injunctive, which is an equitable remedy, so the court "sitting in equity" rather than "at law" provided relief in the form of prohibiting (enjoining) certain behavior (injunction) or causing the defendant to perform certain actions (specific performance) rather than money damages. In other words, the federal court listened to the grievances of a hated minority and ruled based on fairness rather than race. The union was ordered to stop their activities.


Canada imposed a discriminatory tax on Chinese immigrants between 1885 and 1923. The head tax was intended to discourage Chinese immigration after the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway by many Chinese laborers. Some 82,000 Chinese migrants paid the tax, which was set at $50 in 1885. It grew to $500 by 1903, the equivalent of two years' wages for many of the immigrants. In 2006, the Canadian government apologized for imposing this tax.

REMEMBERING 1882 PANEL (Part 2 of 8)
Click HERE to Go to Part 3

Panelists Are the Following

Justice Harry Low
He is the former Insurance Commissioner for the State of California, Presiding Judge for the California Court of Appeal and judge for the San Francisco County Superior Court. He was a Past President of the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, the San Francisco Police Commission, Chinese American Citizens Alliance and the Center for Pacific Rim at the University of San Francisco. He has 25 years of judicial experience in civil, criminal, and government law while authoring opinions on virtually every area of California law.

Attorney Michael Lee
He has been the Past President of the Bar Association of San Francisco, Legal Aid Society/Employment Law Center, and the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area. He has argued cases before the United States Supreme Court, U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, and U.S. District Courts. His principal practice areas include complex civil litigation, unfair competition, and employment and labor while serving as a Pro Tem Judge in the San Francisco Superior Court.

Bill Ong Hing
He is a Professor of Law and Asian American Studies at the University of California, Davis. Throughout his career, he has pursued social justice by combining community work, litigation, and scholarship. He has authored books on immigration policy and race relations, including Deporting Our Souls—Morality, Values, and Immigration Policy (Cambridge Univ. Press 2006) and Defining America through Immigration Policy (Temple Univ. Press 2004). He is on the board of directors of the Asian Law Caucus and the Migration Policy Institute and serves on the National Advisory Council of the Asian American Justice Center in Washington, D.C.

Donald Ungar
He has been practicing immigration law since 1962 and has litigated numerous cases before the Board of Immigration Appeals, the federal district courts, and the United States Supreme Court. He is Professor Emeritus at the University of California at Berkeley, Boalt School of Law and was the recipient of the first Jack Wasserman Award for excellence in litigation by the American Immigration Lawyers Association as well as the Phillip Burton Immigration and Civil Rights Award.

Connie Young Yu
She has documented the affect of the exclusion laws on the lives of her grandparents, following a paper trail from Canton to Angel Island to various Chinatowns. She has written extensively on Asian America and issues of civil rights and is a board member of the Chinese Historical Society of America and the Chinese Historical and Cultural Project. Her books include Chinatown, San Jose, USA (History San Jose 2001).


Cronin organized a meeting called the
Congress of Sinophobes (or, "The Anti-Chinese Congress") at Yesler Hall in Seattle on September 28, 1885. A president was appointed, along with officers, and several resolutions were made. They agreed that the Chinese had arrived illegally; had thirty days to leave; and that they would not be "[held] responsible for any acts of violence which may arise from the non-compliance of these resolutions."

The anti-Chinese movement, also known in some circles as "the better element" and spanning the Western states from California to Oregon to Washington to Wyoming, were in substantial agreement that the Chinese must go. Radical members of the movement wanted to load the Chinese into boxcars and ship them back to China. The more "conservative" members wanted to "talk the Chinese into going home."

In January 1886 a law forbidding Chinese to own real property was passed. Three other laws that would prohibit Chinese from obtaining public or private employment were blocked thanks in part to former Seattle mayor, Orange Jacobs, who called the laws unconstitutional.


February 8, 1885: Japanese immigration begins. The first shipload of Japanese contract laborers arrived in Hawaii aboard The City of Tokio. It brought 676 men, 158 women and 110 children. Among them was Katsu Goto, who would become a successful storekeeper after his three-year contract expired, then be murdered by Whites who resented his influence over Japanese laborers. It would become the most sensational murder case in the history of Asian immigration to Hawaii.


San Francisco builds new segregated "Oriental School."
Anti-Chinese violence at Rock Springs, Wyoming Territory. First group of Japanese contract laborers arrvies in Hawaii under the Irwin Convention.


Residents of Tacoma, Seattle, and many places in the American West
forcibly expel the Chinese. End of Chinese immigration to Hawaii. Chinese laundrymen win case in Yick Wo v. Hopkins, which declares that a law with unequal impact on different groups is discriminatory. In Seattle, Anticoolie riots of white workers broke out and the Chinese were evicted from the city in 1886.

Tacoma had the largest population of Chinese in Washington. In 1885, out of a total population of 6,900, more than 700 were Chinese. The mayor of Tacoma and other civic leaders agreed with the Knights of Labor that the city would be better off without the Chinese. The leading newspaper in town hoped that Tacoma would soon be known as "a town without a Chinaman." Threats against Chinese and vandalism against their property increased.

When tough economic times came, white resentment toward the Chinese grew. The Knights of Labor, a workers' union active in the Northwest, blamed the Chinese for low wages and few jobs. "Treason is better than to labor beside a Chinese slave," they said. Signs began to appear on the streets of Puget Sound cities stating: "The Chinese Must Go!" Some residents resented the sight of pony-tailed Chinese working in their conical straw hats. Tacoma, Seattle, Puyallup, Olympia and other towns called for the expulsion of the Chinese. Many Chinese led to Canada or Oregon in order to escape the mounting tension.

On November 3, 1885, an armed mob in Tacoma rounded up the Chinese and forced them onto a train bound for Portland. They stole property and burned Chinese homes and businesses to the ground. Seattle and several other Northwest communities followed suit. In Pierce City, Idaho, a mob lynched five Chinese men.

Portland had the largest population of Chinese immigrants in the Northwest, numbering between 6,000 to 10,000 people. The Knights of Labor organized anti-Chinese demonstrations and riots in Portland in 1886. Protesters smashed windows in Chinese shops and threatened the Chinese with violence if they did not leave the city. However, white business leaders resisted the Knights and soon crushed the anti-Chinese crusade. Still, many Chinese fled Portland, returning to China or moving to the eastern half of the United States where they were safe from the anti-Chinese fervor of the West Coast.


Lee Yick,
a Chinese immigrant, had been operating a laundry in San Francisco for many years. At the time, it was against a city ordinance to operate a laundry in a wooden building without a permit. However, the Board of Supervisors had granted permits to all non-Chinese applicants except one, and none to 200 Chinese applicants.

After Lee Yick was arrested and convicted for violating the ordinance, his appeal reached the U.S. Supreme Court, where his conviction was overturned. According to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Matthews, the ordinance was applied in a discriminatory fashion.

The decision was the first time a law's application, rather than the law itself, was determined to be discriminatory. This precedent was used in the 1960s in cases seeking to strike down statutes which discriminated against African Americans.


Years later, the true story came out. A gang of white men ranchers and schoolboys -- had set upon ten Chinese miners, shot and beat them to death, then dumped their
mutilated bodies into the river. More Chinese arrived at the camp the next day and were promptly murdered. The killers then traveled by boat downriver, to another camp; by nightfall, thirty-one Chinese were dead. The leader of this group, Bruce Evans, was said to have told the others in the gang: let's do our country a favor and get rid of these Chinamen and let's do a favor for ourselves and get their gold. 1st day of brutal 2-day massacre of 31 Chinese miners in Snake River, Oregon. Covered up by officials, the case was not discovered until 1995.
Grip, 29 Oct. 1887 (cartoon by J.W.Bengough).


Wong Chin Foo's article "Why Am I a Heathen?" describes this racist cartoon. This racist depiction refers to the 1885 Chinese Immigration Act, which levied a $50 "head tax" upon non-Christian, Chinese male immigrants. For decades, Chinese immigrants faced constant, and often vicious racism.


"In the summer of 1887, 300 Chinese initiated a work stoppage in many Chinese-run firms . . . [seeking a daily] pay raise of $1.15 to $1.40 . . . full wages without being compelled to pay board to their employers," and, in some cases, cessation of the practice of fining workers for failing to meet the daily production quota, an end to night work, and the right to work in production groups composed of fellows from their own clan, village, or region. Of these demands, the compromise eventually reached allowed the workers to board themselves, but neither a wage increase nor the end of "mixed" work crews, nor any of the other demands were granted.

To break the strike, it should be noted, one of the Chinese firms brought in white strikebreakers. Franks likens these Chinese shoemakers to the more poverty-stricken members of the English working classes celebrated by E. P. Thompson


While the
Chinaman is a natural-born thief and scoundrel, he is also the most superstitious of God's creatures," a Times reporter wrote in a breathless 1887 travelogue of the ghetto.

Most of the Chinese did not speak English. Politicians and newspapers seized on the anti-Chinese sentiments. The Los Angeles Times described denizens of the Chinese ghetto as "Celestials" and as the "the pig-tainted fraternity."

Los Angeles was home to an estimated 10,000 Chinese in the late 19th century almost all men who came to America to work on the railroads and ended up in desperate straits, crowded into a filthy Chinese ghetto near what is now Union Station.


Scott Act renders 20,000 Chinese reentry certificates null and void. 50th Congress passes Act to prohibit the coming of Chinese Laborers to the United States, even with a valid re-entry permit. The act bans immigration of working class Chinese for 20 years.


King and Legislature of the Hawaiian Kingdom passed this Act that Chinese were no longer permited to land in Hawaii unless they acquired a permit that was granted, signed, and sealed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs. These permits were only given to non-laborers.


Katsu Goto (1862-1889) was a merchant, interpreter and lynching victim. He spoke fluent English and was a contract laborer who took over a store in Hanokaa, Hawaii, a plantation village. His customers not only were Japanese, as he was, but also Hawaiian and Haole (white). White plantation owners disliked him, and his popularity with the community created competition with shopkeepers loyal to the white Protestant overseers. On October 19, 1889 a fire broke out at the nearby Overend Camp and Goto and seven other workers were accused of arson. But he never had a trial. On the night of October 28, Goto was ambushed by unknown persons and killed. His body was found swinging from a telephone pole the next day.

Spanish American War.
Seven Issei are among the 268 men killed aboard the U.S.S. Maine.


In Henry H. Markham's 1890 campaign for California governor, he vowed to keep the Chinese out of California. He used a red rose as his campaign symbol. Republicans also adopted the rose as their emblem, calling it the Markham rose

All political parties in this State agree upon the propriety of the exclusion of the Chinese, and are anxious that the law forbidding their importation shall be strictly enforced. The law is being constantly violated, and the influx of these people is very great.

Congress should be requested to take steps to enforce the law as it stands, to remedy the present law wherever it may be found defective, and to extend the date as far beyond 1892 as possible. Provision should be made for guarding the borders now almost wholly unprotected.

I also recommend that you request Congress to provide means, whereby the insane among the Chinese can be returned to their own country. You will observe by the reports of the Stockton Insane Asylum that there are now one hundred and thirty in the various institutions, who are cared for at an annual cost of $18,000, and are occupying room required for the comfort of our own citizens.

His lone term was anything but rosy, however. It was marked by economic depression, social change and labor unrest, including the Pullman railroad strike. And he vetoed a law giving California women the right to vote.

Chinese organizations, such as the Ying On Association, worked to assist members of the Chinese community when they were threatened by unfair, discriminatory business practices. By working as a group, the Chinese had leverage to help ensure a fair business environment for Chinese owned businesses. Their concern about fair business practices were very real. For example, in 1893 a petition was presented to the Tucson City Council proposing that Chinese businesses be segregated to a certain part of town. This measure was defeated, and Chinese businesses were free to locate wherever there was a need for their services or products. Ying On also acted as a support for elders in the Chinese community in settling disagreements between feuding family groups.

Nishimura v US was the 1st Supreme Court case involving person of Japanese ancestry. The Supreme Court rules that inspectors are not obligated to take testimony from aliens entering the US.


From 1890 to the early 1920s, about 300,000 Japanese immigrants arrived in the United States. Many of these immigrants like the tens of thousands who arrived from Europe during this time had come in search of greater economic opportunity. Most Japanese newcomers entered the country through and settled in the Golden State. As the number of Japanese immigrants in California grew, so did resentment and racist stereotyping. Some of the state's newspapers, politicians, and organizations frequently stereotyped the Japanese immigrants as sly, ruthless, and loyal only to Japan.


Saturday, August 1, 1891, Tucson's Arizona Daily Citizen announced the arrest of twenty-two local Chinese business men, each charged with selling cigarettes to a minor. The paper reported that City Marshal William Roche had notified the "celestials" that such sales were a misdemeanor, "but generally the warning was misregarded [ sic ]." Three days later, the defendants surprised the justice of the peace court by applying for a change of venue on the grounds "that it is impossible to secure justice before Judge [W.H.] Culver." Their petition was granted, but they were found guilty anyway. Undaunted, eighteen of the Chinese merchants appealed the judgment to the Pima County District Court.

If the Chinese had not challenged their arrests, very few cases involving anti-Chinese discrimination would exist in county superior court records. Many of these briefs appealed lower court rulings involving violations of opium laws, while a few challenged verdicts in assault and petit larceny cases. In some of these appeals, Chinese defendants directly assailed opium ordinances, laundry licensing, and other discriminatory laws, or objected to the discriminatory enforcement of such seemingly unbiased laws as selling cigarettes to minors. In doing so, they also challenged prejudice in late-nineteenth-century America.


32 Mott Street General Store was founded by the grandfather of Paul Lee (the current owner and community leader) since 1891 - making it the oldest business in New York City's Chinatown. Lee, who was born in Chinatown and now lives next to his store, is one of the community's most visible and effective leaders.


The very first class of
Stanford Universityin 1891 included six or seven persons of Japanese ancestry in that class. Apparently five or six were from Japan and one or two of were residents of the United States. There were international students at Stanford from the very beginning of its history.

REMEMBERING 1882 PANEL (Part 3 of 8)
Click HERE to Go to Part 4

Panelists Are the Following

Justice Harry Low
He is the former Insurance Commissioner for the State of California, Presiding Judge for the California Court of Appeal and judge for the San Francisco County Superior Court. He was a Past President of the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, the San Francisco Police Commission, Chinese American Citizens Alliance and the Center for Pacific Rim at the University of San Francisco. He has 25 years of judicial experience in civil, criminal, and government law while authoring opinions on virtually every area of California law.

Attorney Michael Lee
He has been the Past President of the Bar Association of San Francisco, Legal Aid Society/Employment Law Center, and the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area. He has argued cases before the United States Supreme Court, U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, and U.S. District Courts. His principal practice areas include complex civil litigation, unfair competition, and employment and labor while serving as a Pro Tem Judge in the San Francisco Superior Court.

Bill Ong Hing
He is a Professor of Law and Asian American Studies at the University of California, Davis. Throughout his career, he has pursued social justice by combining community work, litigation, and scholarship. He has authored books on immigration policy and race relations, including Deporting Our Souls—Morality, Values, and Immigration Policy (Cambridge Univ. Press 2006) and Defining America through Immigration Policy (Temple Univ. Press 2004). He is on the board of directors of the Asian Law Caucus and the Migration Policy Institute and serves on the National Advisory Council of the Asian American Justice Center in Washington, D.C.

Donald Ungar
He has been practicing immigration law since 1962 and has litigated numerous cases before the Board of Immigration Appeals, the federal district courts, and the United States Supreme Court. He is Professor Emeritus at the University of California at Berkeley, Boalt School of Law and was the recipient of the first Jack Wasserman Award for excellence in litigation by the American Immigration Lawyers Association as well as the Phillip Burton Immigration and Civil Rights Award.

Connie Young Yu
She has documented the affect of the exclusion laws on the lives of her grandparents, following a paper trail from Canton to Angel Island to various Chinatowns. She has written extensively on Asian America and issues of civil rights and is a board member of the Chinese Historical Society of America and the Chinese Historical and Cultural Project. Her books include Chinatown, San Jose, USA (History San Jose 2001).

Geary Law renews exclusion of Chinese laborers for another ten years and requires all Chinese to register.

Fong Yue Ting v. U.S. upholds constitutionality of Geary Law. The "Fond Yue-Ting v. United States," the Chinese community raises money to test the constitutionality of exclusionary legislation.

Fong Yue Ting v. United States, confirmed the right of the Congress to treat aliens as it wished. It became the constitutional bedrock for all subsequent questions as to Congress' rights in regard to immigrants and aliens. Fong and two other Chinese men were arrested for violating provisions of the 1892 amendments to the Chinese Exclusion Act.

The extension not only continued to bar Chinese laborers from American shores but required those already in the United States to obtain a certificate of residence from an internal revenue officer stating that they were legally entitled to be here.

A person of Chinese ancestry caught without such certification was to be deported by a federal judge unless he could prove with the aid of "at least one credible white witness" that he was a resident of the United States at the time of the passage of the law and that he had, for a valid reason, been unable to obtain the required document. Fong Yue Ting, though a permanent resident of New York City since 1879, had never bothered to register and was arrested.

Justice Horace Gray, summarizing for the Court, noted that another defendant who tried to get the necessary certificate could not do so because "the witnesses whom he produced to prove that he was entitled to the certificate were persons of the Chinese race and not credible witnesses." Justice Gray continued: Congress, having the right, as it may see fit, to expel aliens of a particular class, or to permit them to remain, has undoubtedly the right to provide a system of registration and identification of the members of that class within the country, and to take all proper means to carry out the system which it provides.

Later Courts have consistently reaffirmed the majority viewpoint in Fong that Congress has absolute discretion in deciding whom to admit, and whom to ban from, this country. And as if to underscorethe confidence that the majority had in its position, three years later Justice George Shiras, Jr., reiterated: No limits can be put by the courts upon the power of Congress to protect, by summary methods, the country from the advent of aliens whose race or habits render them undesirable as citizens, or to expel such if they have already found their way into our land and unlawfully remain therein.

Later Courts have consistently reaffirmed the majority viewpoint in Fong that Congress has absolute discretion in deciding whom to admit, and whom to ban from, this country. And as if to underscorethe confidence that the majority had in its position, three years later Justice George Shiras, Jr., reiterated: No limits can be put by the courts upon the power of Congress to protect, by summary methods, the country from the advent of aliens whose race or habits render them undesirable as citizens, or to expel such if they have already found their way into our land and unlawfully remain therein.

Racially Coerced Labor & Class Struggles Background:
This racialization process was crucial to the first phase of the Asian-American experience, that of a racially coerced labor force. Asian Americans were systematically stripped of their political, economic, cultural, and citizenship rights and thereby condemned to be a vulnerable labor force that was made available to white capital at a price much cheaper than white labor.

Although the lower wages and substandard living conditions the Chinese were forced to accept certainly increased the profits of white capitalists, there was much more significance to the racially coerced labor force than short-term "superprofits." In fact, turning the Chinese into a racially coerced labor force was a fundamental condition for the development of capitalism in California.

At that time, labor was so scarce and land so plentiful that free people had better alternatives than to become wage slaves. As with slavery and sharecropping in the U.S. South, coercing people of color into serving as labor was central to the primitive accumulation and the early accumulation of capital in California; they were barred from owning land and forced to become the labor counterpart to (white) capital in mining, railroads, agriculture, and factories, which propelled California's booming economy and helped forge the first continent-wide national economy.

The racial cordoning of Asians also enabled non-capitalist whites to monopolize small businesses, independent trades and farms, and privileged positions within the workforce, not to speak of land, education, and political power.

A careful look at the "white workers" who led the anti-Chinese movement reveals that the most organized and vocal section were actually independent craftsmen or highly paid skilled workers, not regular wage workers, who in the nineteenth and early twentieth century commonly joined the same skilled craft unions and indeed dominated the U.S. trade union movement until the 1930s.

What they feared was that factory based capitalist industry or agribusiness, basing itself on semi-free Chinese labor, would successfully displace their small businesses or farms, independent trades, or highly paid skilled labor jobs: in short, that their small-scale petit bourgeois production and trades would be undermined by capitalist enterprises and they themselves might be proletarianized. Thus the status of Chinese labor became a significant issue in the class struggle between small, independent producers (miners, artisans, and farmers) and large-scale capitalist enterprises.

At the same time most unskilled white workers also joined the crusade to exclude the Chinese in order to increase their own employment opportunities and to fulfill their own concepts of white supremacy.

Rather than fight white capital for equality and build solidarity among all workers, white labor demanded the exclusion of Chinese labor from the country to advance the condition of white workers at their expense.

Here we had a classical racist trade union tradition: white workers (skilled and unskilled) banding together in unions and political organizations in the name of "Americanism" and "free (white) labor" to defend their privileges over non-white workers.

On January 17, 1893, a small group of businessmen - who were looking for a way to lift sugar tariffs - dethroned the Hawaiian Queen Lili'uokalani, with backing by three companies of the U.S. marines. They seized crown lands and ended Hawaii's independence.

A year later, the same group declared the "land" the Republic of Hawaii (Then-President Grover leveland ordered an investigation, which found U.S. diplomatic and military representatives had abused their power. Cleveland called on them to reinstate the monarchy. His orders, though, went largely ignored.

Japanese in San Francisco form first trade association, the Japanese Shoemakers' League. Attempts are made to expel Chinese from towns in Southern California.


Sun Yat-sen founds the Xingzhonghui in Honolulu. U.S. circuit court in Massachusetts declares in "In re. Saito" that Japanese are ineligible for naturalization. As a result, Saito (a Japanese man who applied for U.S. citizenship) is denied by the U.S. circuit courts because he is neither white nor black.
Japanese immigration to Hawaii under Irwin Convention ends and immigration companies take over.


Lem Moon Sing v. U.S. rules that district courts can no longer review Chinese habeas corpus petitions for landing in the U.S.


Someone first tried to set fire to it in May 1885. That attempt failed, but in May of 1895, a bomb was put under the floor of the school at night.

The second bombing of Ping Yang School happened in the winter of 1900. This was at the time when newspaper articles show a number of "negroes" and "Japs" coming in to work on the Mohawk railroad.

The third bombing of occurred on a hot July summer night in 1901, in a small community near Marcola, Oregon a school named Ping Yang was completely blown up by a bomb.

Less than three months before the final bombing in July of 1901, the Southern Pacific Railroad established a train station at the crossroads known as Mohawk and Ping Yang. The railroad wanted approval of all names of communities where it was creating stations. Thus the community of Mohawk or Ping Yang was renamed Donna, after a young local girl. The town of Isabel was renamed to its present day name, Marcola. The bombing of Ping Yang was a reaction against all this growth and the thousands of people who were coming to Marcola for jobs.

The school was about 12 miles east of Eugene-Springfield where the current community of Mohawk stands. Like many rural schools at the time, Ping Yang was a small schoolhouse with just one classroom. Each bombing was at night and no one was injured.

Ping Yang opened in early 1895. The community had been divided on building the school and one single-minded man polarized residents of the area. No one was ever arrested for any of the attacks which happened over a six year period - yet most people knew exactly who was responsible.

There were four attempts to destroy the school (three by dynamite and one by fire) over a six year period. There may have been "socially sanctioned" reasons why no one was arrested for the bombings. In 1895 the issues may have been the rapid growth and that some people were using the school for dancing - a practice condemned by many religious groups.

An early story about why the school was bombed was because they allowed dancing on Saturday night. Charles Irish, who came to the valley a just few years after the bombings said that one group of religious people objected to the dancing in the school. At that time most Protestant churches were against dancing of any type, while most Catholic churches allowed dances at their church. This may have been one motive for people involved in the 1895 bombing. By 1901 there was a restaurant in Mohawk and dances were held there. The story of people being angered about dancing may have come from the 1895 bombing, before other churches and other public building were established.

Eddy, Florence, and Fong See.
Courtesy of Leslee See Leong


In 1897,
Fong See & Lettice (Ticie) Pruett went to a lawyer to have a marriage contract drawn up. This was recognized by the state notas a marriage, but as a contract between two people. This was done because according to the 1872 California Anti-Miscegenation Act, it was against the law for a Chinese person to marry a Caucasian. In fact – prior to 1948, no Chinese person can marry a Caucasian or own any property or at the federal level to become naturalized citizens. These laws had grown out of the so-called "Driving Out," when Chinese had literally been driven from Western towns if they weren't hung, shot, burned or stabbed by members of the white community, who had no fear of retribution because Chinese could not testify in court against Caucasians. This informal harassment was formalized with the Exclusion Act of 1882, which barred the immigration of Chinese laborers and led to even more institutionalized racism. Shortly after their marriage contract, they moved to Los Angeles and raised a family. Still they and their family experienced years of virulent racism, discrimination and exclusion from American society.

The Driving Out
In the 1870s a national depression, coupled with bank failures and drought conditions in California, stimulated a seething anti-Chinese sentiment among the working classes. Chinese immigrants became scapegoats for economic hardships because of their race and culture, willingness to work for lower wages and unwillingness to unionize with non-Chinese. Anti-Chinese agitation convinced Congress to pass a national Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882. This law excluded Chinese laborers, both skilled and unskilled, from entering the United States for ten years. Furthermore, Chinese immigrants were declared ineligible for citizenship. Following the passage of this act, many incidents of deadly violence occurred against the Chinese. What is now known as "The Driving Out," forced removals, occurred in Cherry Creek, Colorado; Tacoma, Washington; Tombstone, Arizona; Rock Spring, Wyoming; and Redlands, California. A popular saying of the day became "He doesn't stand a Chinaman's chance."

This 14 years old illiterate peasant (the fourth son from a family of five) left his village in Southern China to immigrate to Sacramento, California (“Gold Mountain” / Gum Saan) just after the completion of the Transcontinental Rail in 1871 to search for his father (Fong Dun Shung) and brothers who had disappeared during the building of the Transcontinental Railroad while working as a herbalist. Upon finding him, he took over his father’s herbalist store in Sacramento, CA. Since he didn’t know anything about herbs, he changed the store to manufacture clothes and its name to Fong Suie One Company where he met his wife.

Prior to this, Fong worked at various menial jobs (earning a dollar a day as a worker in the Sacramento Deha’s potato fields, helper in a laundry, swept floors/washed dishes in a restaurant, cooked in a brewery/ranch, door-to-door salesman, etc.) while saving money to buy a business (“Curiosity Bizarre“ - Fancy Underwear for Fancy Ladies) on June 24, 1874 (a factory that made crotch-less underwear for brothels). This classified him as a "merchant," which was one of the four categories of Chinese allowed in this country after the Exclusion Act. Despite widespread restrictions against the Chinese, he became a very successful importer and was able to sponsor many other Chinese who wanted to enter the United States. As a result, he became one of the most prominent Chinese in the United States and was known as the godfather of Los Angeles's Chinatown while being the patriarch of a sprawling family – that includes the prominent author Lisa See.

Mixed Race Marriages Were Against the Law

In 1870, state legislatures in California and Oregon opposed passage of the Fifteenth Amendment, giving blacks the right to vote, because suffrage without regard to "race, color or previous condition of servitude" might include the Chinese. California, Oregon and Nevada also passed laws against miscegenation, the marriage or cohabitation of a Caucasian with a member of another race. Still, many couples put their personal feelings above the law. California's ban on miscegenation lasted from 1880 until 1948; Nevada's until 1959.

Fong See & Ticie later moved to Los Angeles, staying in the underwear industry for several more years before settling down in the antiques business. By 1919, Fong See was one few Chinese men who conducted business with the Caucasian community on a daily basis. Fong See did very well in America. He had four wives (two wives in the United States, Ticie plus a Chinese wife), was the first Chinese to own an automobile, and lived to be 100. He made his fortune not in underwear (where he manufactured crotch-less underwear for brothels) but in curios and antiques and moved down to Chinatown in Los Angeles where he settled, making frequent trips back to China. In 1982 the antique store moved to Pasadena where it remains today selling and renting out Chinese furniture for movie sets.

Fong See was the first Chinese in the U.S. to own an automobile and was one of the few Chinese to do business with the white community by selling props to the nascent film industry and antiques to customers like Frank Lloyd Wright. Ironically, Fong See's four American-born sons had to go to Mexico to marry their Caucasian wifes.

In 1919, Fong See again traveled to China, this time taking his entire family. He wanted his children to meet their relatives and see his home village, Dimtao. He wanted to teach the older boys how to buy. On this trip, Fong See realized that in America he had to limit his expectations, but that in China he could be an important man owning a hotel and factories. When Fong See announced that Eddy should remain in China and take care of these enterprises, Ticie cut the trip short, returning to Los Angeles with all her children in January 1920. Fong See stayed to China and married again that resulted in seven more children.

John Milton Pruett
and Letticie Pruett, 1877
Luscinda Pruett,
circa 1876

Letice Pruett
This white red-headed farm girl (born in 1876) was raised in Central Point Oregon by brothers who were quite cruel to her since her mother (Luscinda) died (April 9, 1877) when she was a baby and her father (John Milton Pruett) died from a horse-racing accident when she was seven in 1884. As a result, she ran away from home to Sacramento California in 1894 on her own at the age of 18. She convinced Fong to overlook the extreme racism and hire her. Her enterprising ideas (that consisted of encouragine Fong to add curios to the stock he sold) and quick business sense (she brought non-Chinese customers to the Chinese store) attracted her to Fong See. After three years of their meeting, Fong See and Lettice Pruett married.

Family History - Around 1871, Letticie Pruett's family crossed America on the Oregon Trail in a covered wagon and homesteaded in Oregon. After Letticie had rund away from home, she landed in Sacramento. When no one would hire a single, uneducated woman, she drifted into Chinatown and the Curiosity Bizarre, where she begged Fong See for a job. He hired her and after three years they got married.

Herbal Remedies Made Camp Life Tolerable
Since the Chinese did not trust western doctors or western medicine, men like Fong Dun Shung administered to the needs of laborers. However, many of the injuries and illnesses he encountered were farbeyond his limited knowledge. The Sacramento Reporter of June 30, 1870, reported that a train bearing theaccumulated bones of 1,200 Chinese workers on the Central Pacific passed through Sacramento.

Fong Dun Shung
By 1870, Fong Dun Shung (who came from Dimtao in the Guangdong Province with his second and third sons to flee poverty while leaving his wife, two sons and a duaghter) had left Charles Crocker railroad camps that was constructing the Central Pacific Railroad and opened an herbal shop, Kwong Tsui Chang (Success Peacefully) on I Street in Sacramento. He practiced Chinese herbal medicine, administering to men who were sick or seeking sexual prowess, and women, mostly prostitutes, who fought venereal disease, tuberculosis and pregnancy. Unlike many immigrants, Fong Dun Shung did not send money back home to China because of his fondness for women and gambling. His family became so desperate that they sent fourteen-year-old Fong See to find his father. His wife was so poor that to make money, she would carry people on her back from village to village until her friends gave money to her son (Fong See) to get him to return. Fong See stated that his father was “a bum.” Fong Dun Shung returned home to China in 1871, leaving Fong See to run the Sacramento business with his two brothers.

Sacramento was Yee Fow, the Second City, to Many
Early Immigrants Came from South China
After completion of the Central Pacific Railroad, thousands of Chinese laborers returned to Sacramento before branching out to look for work. Sacramento's Chinatown extended along I Street, between Third Street and Sixth. Two-story wooden buildings filled the row. Every building had a brightly colored, second-story balcony, as was the custom in China. Shops and restaurants filled the first floors along I Street, with most people living directly above their shops.
About 322,000 Chinese came to the United States between 1850 and 1882. Most nineteenth-century Chinese sojourners came from the provinces of Guangdong and Fujian in South China. Many Chinese Americans today trace their roots to the Pearl River Delta in Guangdong Province. This region consists of eight districts, each roughly the size of an American county. Early immigrants to the continental United States were predominantly from the Sze Yup District, while Hawaii attracted people from Zhongshan.

Fong See Outside Los Angeles Street Store, circa 1906.
Courtesy of Leslee See Leong.
Kwong Tsui Chang, the Curiosity Bazaar
In the late 1870s, Fong See changed the name of his father's store from the Kwong Tsui Chang Company to Curiosity Bazaar. He moved out of Chinatown to 609 K Street, between Sixth Street and Seventh in Sacramento. Instead of herbs, Fong See and his brothers began making ladies' undergarments for the brothel trade. Their shop had four sewing machines and employed ten men. Fong See was the salesman and store manager. He traveled all over California, selling merchandise to prostitutes in mining towns, railroad camps and farming villages.

F. Suie One Company
With the eventual decline in the lingerie business, Fong See and Letticie decided to seek new opportunities in another part of the state, either San Francisco, or Lo Sang, Los Angeles. Opting for the latter, Fong and Ticie opened their first store a few blocks from Chinatown, and changed the name to the F. Suie One Company.

Milton and Ray in the F.Suie One Company Store, circa 1904. Raised above the store, the young boys learned to sell the merchandise-curtain tiebacks, tassels, and jade rings-door to door. They also had to "antique" sewing baskets and decorate them with tassels, beads, and Peking glass rings.|
Courtesy of Leslee See Leong
Auction at the F.Suie One Company, circa 1910 - 1915
The Sees conducted auctions to sell silks, embroideries, screens, bronzes, teak furniture, porcelains, and antiques.
Courtesy of Leslee See Leong.
Fong purchased whatever the people were willing to sell (ancient bronze ritual vessels, family heirlooms dating back to the Sung Dynasty, tomb figures from the Han/Tan/Wei/Sui Dynasties) that followed the taste of Americans that generally followed European trends in Chinese antiques until 1911, when the revolution in China flooded the market with Imperial artifacts. F. Suie One merchandise evolved toward antique porcelains, bronzes, furniture, silks and embroideries. The Sees arranged curios near the front, with both the price and quality of goods increasing as customers moved deeper into the store. They catered to the discriminating collector to the person who wanted an inexpensive curio as a memento of a visit to Chinatown.

Soon they were holding auctions, traveling to China, displaying at international expositions and adding new locations in Long Beach, Ocean Park and Pasadena. Patrons included wealthy tourists wintering in Pasadena, Hollywood celebrities like Mae West and Edward G. Robinson, famous architects including Frank Lloyd Wright and Charles and Henry Greene and collectors such as Avery Brundage and dealers like Grace Nicholson, who built the gallery that later became the Pacific Asia Museum.


The See family traveled to China to purchase merchandise for the F. Suie One Company. In 1901, Fong, Ticie, Milton, and Ray made their first family trip to China.

The entire family returned to China in 1919. When Fong See wanted to leave 14 years old Eddy in China to take care of his grandmother and their ancestral burial sites, Ticie made the decision to return to United States with all her children but without her husband.

Fong stayed for two more years and married a young Chinese woman, Ngon Hung. When Ticie heard about his new marriage, she voided their marriage contracted, and kept the control of F. Suie One Company.

The entire family contributed to the family savings. Milton learned the trade of antique business, Ray and Bennie opened a manufacturing company, and Eddy and Florence opened an art gallery and a Chinese restaurant

Anna Mueller, a German midwife, delivered Milton (Ming Fook) See in 1898. Ray (Ming Hong) followed in 1900. Bennie (Ming Loy) was born in 1903. Eddy (Ming Quan) arrived in 1906, and Florence (Jun Oy) in 1909. All of the children attended American schools, where the older boys especially felt discrimination. s.

In 1928, Eddy See married Stella Copeland in Tijuana, Mexico because the 1872 California Anti miscegenation Act was still enforced. Their son Richard was born on July 4, 1930.

In 1935, Eddy and his sister, Florence, opened Dragon's Den, a Chinese restaurant in the basement of F. Suie One Company. Dragon's Den was one of the first Chinese restaurants in Los Angeles, CA. The restaurant became an avant-garde place for artists, actors, and celebrities from Walt Disney to silent movie actress, Anna May Wong.

See Family Portrait, 1914.
Top Row: Ray and Milton. Bottom Row: Eddy, Fong See, Florence, Letticie and Bennie.
Courtesy of Leslee See Leong.

1871 Fong See leaves China to immigrate to Gold Mountain — the Chinese name for the United States
1872 Letticie (Ticie) Pruett's family heads west in a covered wagon on the Oregon Trail
1888 Fong See opens Fong Suie One Company in Sacramento and F. Suie One Company in Los Angeles, CA.
1894 Letticie Pruett runs away from Oregon to Sacramento. She convinces Fong See to hire her
1897 Fong See and Letticie are married and move to Los Angeles
1901 Fong See, Ticie, Milton, and Ray travel to China and stay for a year
1917 Milton and Ray graduate from Lincoln High School as the only Chinese-Americans in their class

An expanded See Family— Fong See, Ticie, Milton, Ray, Bennie, Eddy, and Sissee — travels to China

1920 Ticie and children return from China; Fong See remains in China for two year
1921 Ticie files for legal separation from Fong See when he marries Ngon Hung in China
1928 Bennie and Ray open See Manufacturing Company; Eddyand Stella are married in Tijuana, Mexico.
1930 Richard See is born
1935 Eddy See and Sissee See open Dragon's Den Restaurant in the basement of F. Suie One Company
1943 Ticie See Dies
1955 Lisa See is Born
1957 Fong See Dies
1981 F. Suie One Company moves from Chinatown to Pasadena
1989 Sisee suggests that Lisa document the family history in America
1995 "On Gold Mountain," the one hundred year odyssey of a Chinese American family is published
2001 McCormick Tribune Foundation Family discover Gallery opens at the Autry National Center's Museum of the American West Autry National Center

Lisa See
"All Chinese babies are born with a Mongolian spot - a temporary birthmark in the shape of a cabbage – at the small of their backs. I had a trace of that spot when I was born. Though I don't physically look Chinese, like my grandmother, I am Chinese in my heart."

Lisa was born in Paris but grew up in Los Angeles, spending much of her time in Chinatown. Her first book, On Gold Mountain: The One Hundred Year Odyssey of My Chinese-American Family (1995), was a national bestseller and a New York Times Notable Book. The book traces the journey of Lisa's great-grandfather, Fong See, who overcame obstacles at every step to become the 100-year-old godfather of Los Angeles's Chinatown and the patriarch of a sprawling family.

Her first novel, Flower Net (1997) became a national bestseller, a New York Times Notable Book, and on the Los Angeles Times Best Books List for 1997. Flower Net was also nominated for an Edgar award for best first novel. This was followed by two more mystery-thrillers, The Interior (2000) and Dragon Bones (2003), which once again featured the characters of Liu Hulan and David Stark. Ms. See was the Publishers Weekly West Coast Correspondent for thirteen years. As a freelance journalist, her articles have appeared in Vogue, Self, and More, as well as in numerous book reviews around the country.

Lisa See Books
On Gold Mountain
Shanghai Girls
Peony in Love
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
Flower Net: A Red Princess Mystery
Dragon Bones: A Red Princess Mystery
Click "Titles" to Purchase

She wrote the libretto for Los Angeles Opera based on On Gold Mountain, which premiered in June 2000 at the Japan American Theatre followed by the Irvine Barclay Theatre. She also served as guest curator for an exhibit on the Chinese-American experience for the Autry Museum of Western Heritage, which then traveled to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., in 2001. Ms. See then helped develop and curate the Family Discovery Gallery at the Autry Museum, an interactive space for children and their families that focuses on Lisa's bi-racial, bi-cultural family as seen through the eyes of her father as a seven-year-old boy living in 1930s Los Angeles.

Through her exploration of the Chinese experience in this country discovered that The See family manufactured women’s underwear, opened Chinese art stores that supplied Hollywood films with props, survived the discrimination against Asians and owned (Eddy See) the first Chinese nightclub in Los Angeles - the popular Dragon's Den Restaurant in the basement of the F. Suie One Company where on the exposed brick of the basement walls, Benji Okubo, Tyrus Wong and Marian Blanchard painted murals of the Eight Immortals and a dancing dragon where people such as Walt Disney and the Marx Brothers came to sample the "authentic fare."


Wong Kim Ark was born in the United States to parents of Chinese descent. In 1894, he travelled back to China to visit his parents, who had returned to their homeland. Ark was barred from re-entering the U.S. because he was not an American citizen. However, the United States vs. Wong Kim Ark established guarantee citizenship for US-born children even if the parents are ineligible for citizenship.

Ark petitioned the Supreme Court, arguing that because he was born in the United States, he was a citizen. The Court agreed based on the 14th amendment of the Constitution, which stated: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside." This landmark case reaffirmed the legal right of citizenship by birth for all Americans.

This case (March 28, 1898) was of critical importance to the eventual establishment of Asians in America, especially in the context of the era's frequent anti-Asian legislation and racism. On Oct 11, 1988 the Scott Act had prohibited the return of the over 20,000 Chinese laborers who had temporarily left the U.S. with the expectation of returning. On May 15, 1892 the Geary Act not only allowed the deportation of Chinese who were caught without a certificate of residence but extended the Chinese Exclusion act by a decade. The Chinese community had raised money to finance the case of Fong Yue-Ting vs U.S. to test the constutionality of the Geary Act only to have it upheld.

The lack of full legal rights encouraged acts of violence against Chinese immigrants and hindered legal protection. On February 2, 1886 anti-Chinese riots drove many residents from Seattle. The brutal two-day massacre of three Chinese miners in Snake River, Oregon on May 27, 1887 was covered up by officials. It finally came to light in 1995.


Chinese newspaper, Wah Mei Sun Po, is founded by Ng Poon Chew.

Donaldina Cameron (a New Zealand-born Scot) assumed the leadership of the Occidental Mission Home for Girls started in 1874 by the Chinese Presbyterian Mission (later named Cameron House in the 1940’s), after being the former director’s (Margaret Culbertson) assistant in 1895. She perfected Culbertson’s rescue techniques and constantly sought/rescued girls (approximately 3000 during her tenure) in trouble because of the Chinatown’s “Yellow Slavery/Yellow Slave Trade” that was started in the 1870’s and flourished till the 1930’s.

A Different Story from Historian/Author Lucie Cheng
Lucie Cheng disagrees with Cameron's claim made in 1898 that she rescued 3,000 Chinese women. Cheng argues that the number according to her estimate and the mission home records was only 600 Chinese women (Judy Yung estimates in her 1995 book that it was about 1,500 using Pascoe's collection).
Lucie Cheng is the author of "Free, Indentured, Enslaved: Chinese Prostitutes in Nineteenth-Century America" published in Signs in 1979. As the title indicates, Cheng's research attempts to change the general assumption that all Chinese prostitutes were slaves. The word "prostitute" was used instead of a euphemistic term like "public women" to indicate the feminist view of prostitution as a profession. For more info, click HERE

In 1908, Donaldina Cameron in San Francisco had only one or two slave girls to rescue, and in one case, when Cameron went into a brothel with policemen to rescue the Chinese prostitutes, the Chinese on the promise did not even resist; she just took the women she found because the owners of this slave-girl were so intimidated by her.

Cameron blamed the Chinese Secret Society's total control of the trade for stopping her from rescuing more prostitutes
For more info, click HERE

The lucrative and ancient custom of slavery was transferred from China to California during the Gold Rush. Most of the female captives (between the ages of 3 to 18 years old and "imported in bulk") were sold as creatures/merchandise almost purely for the enjoyment of men (who outnumbered the women by 2000 men to every women of the Chinese population of 25,000 in California) as domestic dredges (the youngest girls), wives, concubines or prostitutes/”daughters of joy” with a life expectancy of five to six years while 90% contracting venereal diseases.

During the 1850s, these girls sold for between $100 and $500. By the end of World War I, prices had risen to as high as $7,000. Most of the girls were locked into tiny cribs -- narrow cells -- accommodated two to six captives behind barred doors. Crib girls usually emerged once a week to be paraded through Chinatown wearing dog collars attached to leashes. Unwanted children born to these girls were taken and sold into bondage.

Cameron's Mission Statement
They are the first Christianized and educated women to enter the Chinese communities in these places, so there are great opportunities for them to scatter the good seed they carry with them from the Home ... In their lives are the words fulfilled, 'I will sow them among the heathen and they shall remember me in far mountains.
For further info, click HERE

Donaldina Cameron was born on a sheep ranch in New Zealand. At the age of two she emigrated to California with her parents, older brother, and four older sisters. In 1874, when Donaldina was five, her mother died, worn out from the hardships of ranching life. The family's ranch eventually failed and Donaldina's father supported his family by working for other ranchers. At nineteen, Donaldina was engaged, but for reasons unknown, did not marry. In 1895, Donaldina was persuaded by an old family friend to spend a year helping out at the Presbyterian Mission House in San Francisco's Chinatown. The acceptance of this offer was the turning point in Donaldina's life.

Donaldina Cameron retired in 1938. Four years later the Chinese Presbyterian Mission was renamed Cameron House in recognition of her unique achievements. She died in 1968 at the age of 98.

Emancipation Proclamation Excludes Chinese Females
Evidence indicates that the enslavement of Chinese immigrant women was the most widely known secret in the American West in the mid-19th Century. In the same era that Lincoln was signing the Emancipation Proclamation to freed black slaves in the Confederacy, Dorothy Gray, author of Women of the West, estimates that several thousand Chinese females a year were being smuggled through San Francisco's immigrant station to be sold into slavery. Public knowledge of the slave trade was such that, in 1869, the San Francisco Chronicle could report the arrival of a ship from China in this manner: The particular fine portions of the cargo, the fresh and pretty females who came from the interior, are used to fill special orders from wealthy merchants and prosperous tradesmen. A very considerable portion are sent into the interior... in answer to demands from well-to-do miners and successful vegetable producers.

Quote: Cameron, on the residents' trek to safety after the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake: "There was terror and consternation among the 50 Chinese and Japanese girls and children ... but not one symptom of panic or cowardice. Older girls forgot their own fears in anxiety to care for and soothe the little ones. Not one attempted to seek safety alone."

Little Known Fact: Despite the 1909 Mission Home records showing that the rescued girls were about one-third Japanese, the Chinese prostitutes dominated the discourse and media attention at the time. San Francisco saw the Chinese bachelor society in its quick formation from the period of forbidden Chinese women, followed by forbidden Chinese family (bachelor society) and followed by forbidden workers (Chinese Exclusion Act, 1882).

History Behind the "hundred Mem's Wives" & Misconceptions
The image of women as victims of Chinese tradition is a stereotype in which both Western scholars and Chinese May Fourth (1917-24) Western-educated intellectuals were complicit. During the May Fourth discourse, "women" became a figure for the struggle between tradition and modernity. "Women became the 'stand-ins' for China's traumatized self-consciousness." The result was to link the female body with the health and the strength of the nation by advocating the abolition of foot binding and other "traditional" social practices such as polygamy.

Influenced heavily by missionary reports and the wish to "modernize" China as the "White man's burden," and because many Chinese immigrant women were brought to the United States of America to be "hundred men's wives", the working class woman's image, especially that of the prostitute, dominated the American West. Gradually, women of the footbinding merchant wife's class were also viewed as slaves of male control and abuse.

Chinese prostitutes were associated with heathen practices, female infanticide, and viewed as the victims of the powerful and abusive patriarchy. The discourse on Chinese prostitutes in the American West is reflected in the American Protestant's early writings on women of China. Given the interest in "civilizing" the Chinese, it is not surprising that missionary reports on "women's status" in China emphasized their victimization and weakness. This discourse paved the way to justify intervention. Missionary views were also skewed by the fact that missionaries tended to work among the poor. Reports of Chinese women's subordination were thus used to alidate Western ideas about China's perceived cultural backwardness, which in turn justified the imperialist agenda. Footbinding, in particular, was denounced as a symbol of Chinese barbarity and an indication of the urgency of missionary interventions in China but prostitutes become the dominant symbol in the American West after the Page Act, whereby all Chinese women who applied to enter the United States of America were suspected being prostitutes

The Chinese prostitutes arrived in the United States during the Progressive Era. The medical-legal and moral discourse of the time soon prohibited their bodies as a site for pleasure. Instead they were incorporated into two generally constructed master images of the prostitute, both profane: one a ruined, destroyed, victimized body; the other, a destroying body, a disease that spreads and rots the body politic. With the rapid development of industrialization and urbanization, the prostitutes became a political subject to be controlled during this era. Chinese prostitutes were marked as the evil of the Chinese community and as "the foul, contagious disease," "a particular phase of the Chinese question", with their potential of "infusing a poison into Anglo-Saxon Blood." They were the first group from a different shore to be targeted by the first gender specified immigration law, the Page Act, because they were Chinese immigrants and because they were women. Other than the moral high ground generally used in the discourse and legal action against Chinese women in the Progressive Era, the control of Chinese women also met the purpose of controling the growth of the Chinese population in the United States.

The imperialistic ideology of the Christian mission was very clear; the containment of the Chinese women here in the American West became a part of the mission to save the Chinese race through Christianity. According to the formation of contained or ideologically converted Chinese women in Amerrica, they would be agents to change and contain China. The Chinese women here also served the purpose of submitting to the white women's power and boosting the White women's sense of superiority. All the literature of the mission home described Chinese women as "hidden away" or "heavily guarded" regardless of whether they were wives or prostitutes.

Click HERE to Purchase
In 1994, Benson Tong applied the methodology designed by Parent-Duchatelet, namely the taxonomy of prostitutes which served as a model for the British investigation of prostitutes from the 1840s to 1880s, to his research on the Chinese prostitutes of nineteenth century America. Tong produces the Chinese prostitutes as a new historical anthropological figure using such social science procedures such as professional testimony; personal observations recorded in the newspapers and private family papers; memoirs; interviews with administrative officials of the mission home and rescued prostitutes; archival research into business directories; fire maps prepared by the insurance companies; files of prisons, police, and hospitals; and the manuscript schedules of three U.S. census records on population, property deeds, and contracts. With these documents, Benson Tong reconstructs the stories of these prostitutes. He concludes that they were their own agents in some ways under an extremely difficult situation. They managed to make the best out it by struggling their way out of the trade to become the decent wives of Chinese men.

"Chung Liang" (become good) in Chinese being the most traditional route for women in prostitute class in China. Benson Tong concludes that within the 10 years from the 1870s to the 1880s, many Chinese prostitutes did manage to marry and left the trade. But his interpretation is not very convincing (see reviews of the book by Chan, 1998 and Wei, 1996). For instance, in applying two sets of statistics, one cited the congressional testimony of Rev. Otis Gibson saying "80.5 percent of Chinese women engaged in sexual commerce in 1870 had either left the business or moved out of the city by the 1880s" (Tong, 1994, p. 100), while another one, from Su-cheng Chan's study[6] on the 1880 census, stated "Based on her statistics, 2 to 4 percent of the married Chinese women fell into this [prostitute] category"

Benson Tong concludes that "The difference between Chinese and non-Chinese prostitutes is accounted for by the simple fact that only affluent people could redeem indentured Chinese prostitutes. Secured in a comfortable marriage, most Chinese women who left the trade rarely had to face the bleak prospect of returning to prostitution.

Given that most prostitutes' careers lasted only four to five years and given the bleak environment they were living in, there were various factors to be considered before any such rosy conclusion can be reached. In the 1870s there were 1,428 Chinese prostitutes working in 159 brothels in San Francisco; and in 1880, there were only 435 working in 101 brothels. There were various ways to interpret the figures, based on the immigration regulation and corruption, zoning ordinances, race violence and migration to the inner states, and high death rate of women in this trade.


annexes Hawaii. It is estimated that there were almost a million native Hawaiians at the time of contact with the West; at the time of annexation, fewer than 40,000 native Hawaiians were left. In 1897, 29,000 native Hawaiians signed a petition to Congress protesting annexation. There are those who favor that Hawaii be a soverign nation.


The Treaty of Paris ends the Spanish-American War. Spain cedes the Philippines to the US.
Filipinos resist the US takeover, and over 4+ years of guerrilla war follows. The United States began the invasion of the Philippines in that year (the war actually offically started in Feb. 1899), but the "War of Conquest" continued until U.S. military government of Moro Province ended in 1914.

Few Americans are aware of the atrocities committed by US soldiers dwarf those in the Vietnam War. Brig. Gen. Jacob Smith ordered a battalion of US marines to have all persons killed who are capable of bearing arms in actual hostilities against the United States," declared Smith, setting the minimum age limit at ten! Ironically, famous American writer Mark Twain responded in his autobiography: "This is incomparably the greatest victory that was ever achieved by the Christian soldiers of the United States."  

James Wong Howe was born
Wong Tung Jim on August 28, 1899 in Kwantung (Canton), China and moved to the US at 5. He tried being a boxer, then a delivery boy for a commercial photographer. In 1917, became an assistant cameraman Cecil B. DeMille and others. As a director of photography, established a reputation as an inventive and meticulous craftsman. In industry circles, Howe acquired the nickname of Low Key Hoe for his distinctive application of low-key photography. Howe also pioneered the use of deep focus and the hand-held camera. Howe won Academy Awards for his cinematography for The Rose Tattoo (1955) and Hud (1963). James Wong Howe died in 1976.


The origins of Japanese living in
Santa Monica date back to 1899 when a small community of immigrants, often referred to as Issei, developed around a fishing village in the Santa Monica Canyon. As the number of Issei increased and gave birth to Nisei, or second-generation Japanese Americans, the community spread throughout Santa Monica.


Congressman Dalip Singh Saund was the first among Asian Americans and also the first Indian American to be elected to the US Congress. Thus far, he is the only Indian American who has been elected to this honorable position. He was first elected in 1956 from 29th congressional district comprising of Riverside and Imperial Counties of California and was re-elected twice. Dalip Singh Saund was born on September 20, 1899 in village Chhajalwadi, Amritsar, Punjab.

Ahn Chang-ho (the father of Philip Ahn, the actor. a Korean intellectual, arrived in San Francisco to set up residence. In 1903, he established the Chinmok-hoe, Friendship Society, the first Korean organization in the continental United States. Ten years later he founded the Hung Sa Dang, or Young Koreans Academy, many members of which were active in the Korean National Association. Ahn went on to become one of the leaders of the Korean independence movement (Korean was occupied by Japan from 1910 to 1945), serving as secretary of the interior and later as secretary of labor in the provisional government-in-exile set up by expatriate Korean leaders in Shanghai (China) in 1919. He was arrested by Japanese police in 1935 and died shortly after being released from jail three later.


Perhaps the most severe example of medical panic transforming itself into racial prejudice took place in 1899, when bubonic plague broke out in Hawaii. Though the disease hit whites as well as Chinese, the local board of health focused its efforts on the Chinese alone, placing them under quarantine, preventing them from sailing to the continental United States and burning down parts of Honolulu's Chinatown.

In 1900, officials in San Francisco followed Hawaii's example, closing Chinatown businesses, forcing Chinese residents to submit to inoculation and cordoning off the neighborhood with a nine-foot-tall fence — a quarantine that a federal court later ruled unconstitutional. San Francisco authorities also tried to raze and burn down Chinese neighborhoods; it took the combined efforts of the ethnic San Francisco Chinese community, their lawyers and China's ambassador to the United States to save the community from complete destruction.

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