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Our victories, obstacles and leaders

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

Distinguished Americans of South Asian ancestry include conductor Zubin Mehta, former EEOC Commissioner Joy Cherian, award-winning author Bharati Mukherjee, filmmaker Ismail Merchant and Dalip Saund.

Population estimates were 359,000 in 1980, 815,447 in 1990, and over 1.3 million today, including an estimated 25,000 medical doctors. By 1990 census estimates, Asian Indians had a per capita income of $17,777 as compared to the national average of $14,420, and high levels of educational achievement (averaging 15.6 years) and annual household income ($34,300).

Indian Americans have served on the state level in Maryland and Wyoming, and run for office in states as diverse as California, New York, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Georgia.


Men from
India's Punjab province came to California chiefly between 1900 and 1917; after that, immigration practices and laws discriminated against Asians and legal entry was all but impossible. Some 85 percent of the men who came during those years were Sikhs, 13 percent were Muslims, and only 2 percent were really Hindus.

Marriages between Punjabis and Mexicans began in the second decade of the twentieth century. Most descendants of these Punjabi-Mexican couples continue to refer to themselves as Hindus, and they are very proud of their Punjabi background. Yet most descendants are Catholic, and while most are bilingual, they speak English and Spanish, not Punjabi.

Many of the Punjabi immigrants who ended up in California had served overseas in the British Indian army or police in China and crossed the Pacific for the better wages in railroad, lumbering, and agricultural work. Intending to return to India, only a handful of men had brought their wives and families; soon it was not possible to bring them. In northern California's Sacramento Valley, Punjabis tended to work in gangs, and were called "Hindu crews."

The Punjabi men chose women of Mexican ancestry for many reasons. Mexican women were thought to resemble Punjabis physically, and many were beautiful. Mexican families picked cotton in the fields farmed by the Punjabi men. Mexicans and Punjabis shared a rural way of life; with similar types of food, furniture, and so on, they had a similar material culture. Furthermore, Mexicans and Punjabis shared an initially lower-class status.

Ethnic similarities between the men and women were most striking at the time these marriages began to occur. Like Mexicans, Punjabis were discriminated against by white society. At least half of the women, like the men, were pioneers in a new country and came from a group entering the agricultural economy as laborers.

In Texas and California, where cotton was being cultivated by Punjabi men with the help of Mexican immigrant laborers, the growing number of biethnic couples began to constitute a biethnic community with certain characteristic features. The women were usually much younger than their husbands - the men were typically in their thirties and forties, and the women were in their teens and twenties. Their children met with prejudice from both Anglos and from Mexicans--they were called "dirty Hindus" and "half and halves."

The original Punjabi immigrants found the physical landscape of California similar to that of the Punjab; the political landscape and their place in it also struck them as similar to that in British India. The men's resentment at being colonial subjects as well as their resentment at being deprived of legal rights in the United States. The Punjabi men organized the militantly nationalist Ghadar Party in California to fight against the British back in India; they contributed money, and some of them went back to participate in Ghadar party activities there. They fought hard for political rights here, too, organizing groups and supporting lobbyists to gain U.S. citizenship. They interpreted both their past and present as a struggle for one's rightful place in society, particularly a place on the land, a very important component of Punjabi identity.

The original Punjabi immigrants refused to transmit elements of Punjabi culture that they judged inappropriate in the United States, according to their children. Many fathers felt that the immigration laws and other discriminatory policies against Asians had made it useless to teach the children Punjabi, or even to tell them about Punjabi society. Social practices from the Punjab, life cycle ceremonies, and caste and religious distinctions and observances, were consciously discarded.


Galveston Chinese established perhaps the first major Chinatown in Texas, and served their city valiantly during the Galveston Storm of 1900. These Chinese were from the Chinese Texans of the nineteenth century that helped to build the Texas railroads. These men helped establish early Chinese communities in the Brazos Valley and El Paso. The El Paso Chinatown was considered "The Chinese Mecca" of the Southwest.

Throughout the period of Asian exclusion, which began with Chinese exclusion in 1882, Chinese, Japanese, and Indians immigrated to and returned home to the United States through the nation of Mexico. Because entrance was illegal for Asians, an Asian American underground railroad ran from Mexico throughout the United States. The most important stop on this railroad was El Paso, Texas.

Japanese Texans (such as Sen Katayama - father of Japanese socialism) helped to make rice a viable industry in east Texas in the early twentieth century. Chinese Mexicans ("Pershing Chinese"), persecuted in Mexico, risked their lives to aid General John J. Pershing and the U.S. military in their battles with. In the 1970's and 1980's, Vietnamese Texans stood tall against thevguns of racists in the struggle to open Texas coasts to people of all national origins for commercial fishing and shrimping. Korean Texans have in small military towns established major Korean American communities with leaders such as Dr. Suzanne Ahn.


Canton Bank of San Francisco, the first Chinese banking institution, quickly becomes the preferred bank for nearly one hundred thousand Chinese throughout the U.S. and Mexico.


Japanese Hawaiian plantation workers begin going to the mainland after the Organic Act ended contract labor. Bubonic plague scare in San Francisco - Chinatown cordoned and quarantined. Hawaii's
Organic Act gives native Hawaiians the right to vote, except for people of Asian origin. The Organic Act also makes US laws applicable in the islands, thus ending contract labor.

April 4, 1900: The fight for humane working conditions. Japanese sugar plantation workers on Lahaina went on strike and won a 9-hour workday and most of their other demands. Just two months later on June 14, the Organic Act made U.S. laws applicable in the islands, effectively ending contract labor. It also gave native Hawaiians the right to vote (as stated above), but expressly excluded persons of Asian origin. The state of affairs were no better on the mainland. On March 18, 1901 the Supreme Court ruled in Sung vs. U.S. that the prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures, cruel and unusual punishment and the right to a jury trial didn't apply to deportation hearings.

The fight for better working conditions took another major step forward on February 11, 1903 when Japanese and Mexican farmworkers joined forces in Oxnard, CA to form the Japanese-Mexican Labor Association. It sponsored a strike by 1,500 sugar beet workers. But U.S. laws remained mostly anti-Asian. On April 6, 1903 the Supreme Court held in Kaoru vs Fisher that immigrants who were likely to become public charges could be taken into custody.

It wasn't until November 9, 1909 that Asian immigrant farm workers were able to win the right to be paid on an equal footing with other nationalities following a four-month strike that began on May 9 with several hundred Japanese plantation workers and expanded to include 7,000 Hawaiian workers.

Racist 1900 Postcard

The San Franciso quarantine was a legislation designed by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to harass Chinese living in San Francisco
Chinatown. The bubonic plague scare was an attempt to label the Chinese as "carriers of diseases," and as a way to remove Chinese from the center of San Francisco. Other forms of legislation included the Queue ordinance, and the discriminatory Laundry Ordinances. The bubonic plague scare only perpetuated the false images of Chinese as undesirables.


The 1900 census indicates that
168,682 Filipinos reside in Hawaii, most of them employed in the service industries (restaurants, hotels, tourist agencies, and entertainment) as low-paid semi-skilled labor.


Men from
India's Punjab province came to California chiefly between 1900 and 1917; after that, immigration practices and laws discriminated against Asians and legal entry was all but impossible. Some 85 percent of the men who came during those years were Sikhs, 13 percent were Muslims, and only 2 percent were really Hindus.


The new
Chinese Telephone Exchange is open and ready for business, after months of preparation. The exchange differs from all others in this city or in the world in that it is gorgeous with Oriental beauty and a marvel of luxurious good taste and splendor.

The telephone company has made it a point to make the new exchange one of the show places in Chinatown. It has spared no expense to obtain this result. The new exchange is in the three-story building at 743 Washington street. The first floor is occupied by a store, which has been refitted and decorated by its owners to be in accord with the remainder of the building.

The entrance to the exchange is up a long flight of narrow stairs, at the head of which is a gayly decorated sign in Chinese letters announcing the presence of the telephone, which, strangely enough, is one of the most popular of the American inventions among the Chinese.


Sung v US Supreme Court rules that unreasonable search and seizure, cruel and unusual punishment, and trial without jury are acceptable in deportation proceedings.


In November 22, 1901 - a Chinese exclusion convention in San Francisco spells out the reasons why it thinks Congress should exclude Chinese immigrants. Some excerpts are listed below:

The effects of Chinese exclusion have been most advantageous to the State. The 75,000 Chinese residents of California in 1880 have been reduced, according to the last census, to 45,000; and whereas the settlement of California by Caucasians had been arrested prior to the adoption of these laws, a healthy growth of the State in population has marked the progress of recent years. Every material interest of the State has advanced, and prosperity has been our portion.

To quote the imperial Chinese consul-general of San Francisco: They work more cheaply than whites; they live more cheaply; they send their money out of the country to China; most of them have no intention of remaining in the United States, and they do not adopt American manners, but live in colonies, and not after the American fashion.

Until this year no statute had been passed by the State forbidding their intermarriage with the whites, and yet during their long residence but few intermarriages have taken place, and the offspring has been invariably degenerate.
Exclusion and the Racial/Ethnic Enclaves
However, exclusion was not only an immigration restriction. It became a unique form of racism that also socially defined the situation of the remaining Asians inside the country, as well as those who managed to slip through after exclusion until 1965. Unlike blacks who were economically integrated into the center of the U.S. economy (albeit in extremely oppressive ways) and the Native Americans who mainly remained outside U.S. society as a whole, the Chinese, and then the other Asian groups in somewhat different degrees, were excluded from the mainstreams of U.S. society and instead confined to ethnic enclaves. The Asian ethnic enclaves thus were also products of both racial and nationality discrimination.

The Structure of Dual Domination
One of the prime results of Asian exclusion was the development of what L. Ling-chi Wang calls "the structure of dual domination." What this extremely useful concept refers to is that the ruling circles of not only the United States but also of China, Japan, Korea, and the Philippines developed fairly elaborate political, economic, and social institutions to dominate and control their respective emigrants in the United States; Asians in the United States were oppressed both by U.S. and homeland elites.

To varying degrees, the home countries of many European immigrants to the United States also tried to influence their emigrants. But the special conditions of exclusion facing Asians produced a unique racist isolation within the U.S. structure and simultaneously rendered these isolated communities subject to customs, laws, organizations, and institutions from the home countries.

In fact, the two structures were mutually reinforcing. The home countries' main aim was to retain the political, economic, and cultural loyalty of their overseas communities, while the principal interest of the United States was to retain its racially oppressive, especially exclusionary, policies and occasional access to cheap Asian labor, predominately in agriculture. Thus, the United States was usually happy to stay out of the internal workings of the Asian communities so long as they stayed within bounds of its broader dictates.

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It is well established that the issue of the Caucasian and the Mongolian does not possess the virtues of either, but develops the vices of both. So physical assimilation is out of the question.

It is well known that the vast majority of the Chinese do not bring their wives with them in their immigration because of their purpose to return to their native land when a competency is earned.

Their practical status among us has been that of single men competing at low wages against not only men of our race, but men who have been brought up by our civilization to family life and civic duty. They pay little taxes; they support no institutions, neither school, church, nor theater; they remain steadfastly, after all these years, a permanently foreign element.

We respectfully represent that their presence excludes a desirable population, and that there is no necessity whatever for their immigration.

America is the asylum for the oppressed and liberty-loving people of the world: and the implied condition of their admission to this country is their allegiance to its Government and devotion to its institutions. It is hardly necessary to say that the Chinese are not even bona fide settlers, as the imperial Chinese consul-general admits.

We respectfully represent that American labor should not be exposed to the destructive competition of aliens who do not, will not, and can not take up the burdens of American citizenship, whose presence is an economic blight and a patriotic danger.

As common laborers they have throughout California displaced tens of thousands of men. But this country is not concerned, even in a coldly economic sense, with the production of wealth. The United States has now a greater per capita of working energy than any other land. If it is stimulated by a nonassimilative and nonconsuming race, there is grave danger of overproduction and stagnation.

Their earnings do not circulate nor are they reinvested, contrary to those economic laws which make for the prosperity of nations. For their services they may be said to be paid twice, first by their employer and then by the community.

If we must have protection, is it not far better for us to protect ourselves against the man than against his trade? Our opponents maintain that the admission of the Chinese would cause an enlargement of our national wealth and a great increase of production; but the distribution of wealth, not its production, is to-day our most serious public question.

In this age of science and invention the production of wealth can well be left to take care of itself. It is its equitable distribution that must now be the concern of the country.

The experience of the South with slave labor warned us against an unlimited Chinese immigration, considered both as a race question and as an economic problem. The Chinese, if permitted freely to enter this country, would create race antagonisms which would ultimately result in great public disturbance. The Caucasians will not tolerate the Mongolian. As ultimately all government is based upon physical force, the white population of this country would not, without resistance suffer itself to be destroyed.

"As soon as Japanese coolies are kept out of the country, there will be no danger of irritating these sensitive and aggressive people. They must be excluded because they are non-assimilable; they are a permanently foreign element; they do not bring up families; they do
not support churches, schools, nor theatres; in time of trial they will not fight for Uncle Sam, but betray him to the enemy.
"They now occupy valleys in California by lease or purchase of land to the exclusion of not only whites but Chinese, and if this silent invasion is permitted by the federal government, they would at the rate at which they are coming, a thousand a month, soon convert the fairest state in the union into a Japanese colony. If they were naturalized they would outvote us.
"But California is white man's country, and the two races cannot live side by side in peace, and inasmuch as we discovered the country first and occupied it, we propose to hold it against either a peaceful or a warlike invasion.
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If we were to return to the antebellum ideas of the South, now happily discarded, the Chinese would satisfy every requirement of a slave or servile class. They work well, they are docile, and they would not be concerned about their political condition; but such suggestions are repulsive to American civilization.

The free immigration of Chinese would be for all purposes an invasion by Asiatic barbarians, against whom civilization in Europe has been frequently defended, fortunately for us. It is our inheritance to keep it pure and uncontaminated, as it is our purpose and destiny to broaden and enlarge it. We are trustees for mankind.

Our commerce with China since 1880 has increased more than 50 per cent. Our consular service reports that "the United States is second only to Great Britain in goods sold to the Chinese." The United States buys more goods from China than does any other nation, and her total trade with China, exports and imports, equals that of Great Britain, not including the colonies, and is far ahead of that of any other country.

Therefore every consideration of public duty, the nation's safety and the people's rights, the preservation of our civilization, and the perpetuity of our institutions, impel your memorialists to ask for the reenactment of the exclusion laws, which have for twenty years protected us against the gravest dangers, and which were they relaxed would imperil every interest which the American people hold sacred for themselves and their posterity.

Editor's Note: We encourage people to compare the issues listed above with the present issues that the U.S. has with China), starting with what is listed below:

    One can almost hear echoes of Gompers's and Powderly's warnings about the threat that Chinese civilization poses for America when one reads Caspar W. Weinberger's "Foreword" to the House of Representatives Report of the Select Committee on U.S. National Security and Military/Commercial Concerns with the People's Republic of China ("the Cox Report"), which stated, "Communist China's long march against the United States is as tenacious as it is diverse from campaign contributions used to buy influence in the White House, to purchasing an interest in American corporations, to hi- tech spying, [and] to a plain old- fashioned military buildup and threats . . . "Further, when it is reported that 450 of the employees at Los Alamos are "foreign citizens," and that this number includes "more than 30 from Russia, China, North Korea, and seven other 'sensitive' countries" one senses that Chinese scientists, whether "imported" or American-born, alien or citizen, have become the era's current version of the "coolie menace."


Chinese Exclusion Act extended for another ten years. Immigration officials and the police raid Boston's Chinatown and, without search warrants, arrest almost 250 Chinese who allegedly had no registration certificates on their persons.

A certain kind of San Franciscan, in short, starting perhaps in 1900 when the United States formally declared Hawaii a territory and hence incorporated en bloc its large resident Japanese population, saw the Japanese—now approaching the 100,000 mark between Hawaii and California—as a threat to the American way of life.
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As the 20th century dawned and with it the possibility that the already once-renewed Chinese Exclusion Act would expire, (Samuel) Gompers worked tirelessly to secure permanent exclusion. In February, 1902, he testified before the Senate Committee on Immigration, insisting that "the exclusion of Chinese laborers from the United States is asked for by all of the wage workers of our country, particularly all the organized wage earners, regardless of any section of the country from which they hail and in which they are located." And once again, but even more vehemently, he buttressed his argument with an attack on the social, moral, and civic aspects of Chinese society and culture:

The presence in our country of a people entirely out of harmony and training with American comprehension of liberty and citizenship, who are alien to our customs and habits, as different from us in political and moral ideas as it is possible for two peoples to be, who are so thoroughly grounded in race characteristics that even the generations born and reared among us still retain them, can not but exercise a most demoralizing effect upon the body politic, the social life, and the civilization of the people of our nation.


Exclusion, Enclaves, and the Class Composition of Asians
Exclusion also had a major impact on the gender and class compositions of the Asian communities, which continues to resonate today.

First of all, since the vast majority of the first immigrants of each of the Asian nationalities were male laborers who left their families behind, exclusion tended to freeze in place the overwhelming male composition of these communities and stunted the growth of a U.S.-born Asian population.

Second, anti-Asian hostility and riots, combined with exclusion, forced the Asian peoples to band together into Japantowns, Chinatowns and Manilatowns where the prevailing conditions promoted a large class of small entrepreneurs (merchants, farmers, labor contractors, restaurateurs, etc.) and the political and social power of that class over the workers.

Chinese Communities
Prior to exclusion the majority lived in agricultural areas where the business and labor-contracting elite seldom exceeded 15 percent of the community. Exclusion virtually eliminated Chinese laborers in small western towns and left only a smattering of Chinese restaurant or laundry owners. And it drove the majority together into Chinese enclaves within the cities where entrepreneurs and professionals constituted some 40 percent.

The exclusion acts banned Asian laborers, but allowed merchants, students, and their wives or families to enter the United States, thus further distorting the class composition of the communities.

The Chinatowns, Manilatowns, and Japantowns that emerged were not so much the products of "natural" social forces as the distorted outgrowth of immigration and naturalization policies that discriminated against Chinese as a people in general and against specific classes.

Filipino Communities
Ironically, Filipinos were neither enclaved nor did they develop an entrepreneurial class on the scale of the Chinese or Japanese. Many Filipinos remained migrant farm workers for agribusiness on the West Coast. Their enclaves tended to be in agricultural areas and their urban communities tended to be adjuncts to or merged with Chinatowns. The situation of the Filipinos thus remained that of the first phase: racially coerced labor for agricultural capital.

Japanese Communities
The Japanese also remained a disproportionately agricultural folk until their racist internment during the Second World War, but they were only briefly forced into the role of cheap labor. Japanese in California were soon able to carve out niches as farmers and shopkeepers. The Japanese also formed sizable urban Japantowns in Los Angeles and San Francisco with class characteristics similar to the Chinatowns.

And, lest the Senators not be informed about the unsalubrious effects that Chinese immigration had already inflicted and would continue to inflict on America unless their coming was halted altogether, Gompers set forth a parade of horribles drawn, he claimed, from facts about the Chinese situation of the State of California:

All impartial observers agree, and official reports confirm it, that the condition of affairs in the State of California, the people of which had and still have to bear the brunt of this Asiatic contamination almost incredible to our people, in which gambling hells, opium joints, dens of iniquity and vice [abound,] are but superficial evidences of a moral standard as degrading in its exhibition as it is demoralizing by its contact.

Together with Hermann Gudstadt, Gompers co-authored the most infamous of his screeds on the matter, Some Reasons for Chinese Exclusion. Meat vs. Rice. American Manhood Against Asiatic Coolieism. Which Shall Survive?

Setting all claims of racial tolerance, ethnic empathy, or labor solidarity aside, the two veteran Chinese exclusionists reiterated and embellished with purple prose every accusation that had been made against Chinese immigrants, insisting on their mendacity, their womanless and hence immoral life style, their willing submission to cheap labor contracts made in China, their murderous intra-communal conflicts, and, lest these not be sufficient to undermine any notion of their worthiness to come to the United States, Gompers and Gudstadt added a new charge, viz., that Chinese male immigrants seduced chaste, prepubescent white girls and boys into drug addiction and prostitution:

Passing through the upper end of Kearney street, in the vicinity of [San Francisco's] Chinatown, after nightfall one may see a number of what were once men and women, but are now but mental and physical wrecks of humanity. . . . Who and what are these beings, and why are they seen only in San Francisco, one of nature's most favored cities? . . . Some time in the past these poor, miserable, and degraded wrecks were the beloved children of fond parents . . . They have become what is known in the parlance of the street as "dope heads" opium fiends in the ordinary language.

In some manner, by some wily method they have been induced to use the drug. Time was when little girls no older than 12 years were found in Chinese laundries under the influence of opium. What other crimes were committed in those dark and fetid places when these little innocent victims of the Chinamen's wiles were under the influence of the drug are almost too horrible to imagine . . . [T] here are hundreds, aye thousands, of our American boys and girls who have acquired this deadly habit and are doomed, hopelessly doomed, beyond a shadow of redemption. Better death a hundred times than to have become a victim of this worst of all oriental opium habit.

In subsequent years, Gompers would not only oppose American expansion into the Pacific because more Chinese would become part of the labor force, but would also attempt to evict from their jobs Chinese already at work in America. When, in 1898, the House of Representatives was considering a bill authorizing the annexation of the Hawaiian Islands, Gompers protested to Thomas B. Reed, Speaker of the House, reminding him that "It [had] required more than twenty years of constant organization, agitation, and education to legislatively close the gates of our country to the Chinese"; claiming, beyond all considerations of fact, that of the 100,000 inhabitants of those islands there were 50,000 contract laborers of whom approximately 80 percent were Chinese and Japanese; and predicting that the "annexation of Hawaii would . . . obliterate that beneficent legislation and open wide our gates, . . . [threatening] an inundation of Mongolians to overwhelm the free laborers of our country."
REMEMBERING 1882 PANEL (Part 4 of 8)
Click HERE to Go to Part 5

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).

In November, 1881, Gompers and his fellow unionists lent their support to a resolution reported one month later: "declaring the presence and competition of Chinese [laborers] with free white labor as extremely dangerous and demanding the passage of laws entirely prohibiting their importation." But, less than a year later, the Chinese Exclusion Act prohibited their immigration.

Gompers' fulminations against the Chinese, together with demands for stricter prohibitions on their immigration, did not cease after the Chinese Exclusion Act had been adopted. Fearful that the law would not be administered with appropriate acuity, Gompers presided over a meeting of the Federation of Trades and Labor Unions at which the organization's committee on legislation suggested that "a supplementary act" would be needed in order to ensure "the strictest enforcement of the present Anti- Chinese law."

. . . [W]e were contending against a menace to our trade [that] federal legislation alone could remedy. In 1878, of forty thousand cigar-makers in the entire country at least ten thousand were Chinamen employed in the cigar industry . . . California did not have authority to exclude Chinese workmen and Federal law was needed.

That Gompers perceived the labor problem as a race problem is made clear not only in the words used to refer to non-white, non-Anglo workers in his autobiography, but also, and more viciously, in the pamphlets he wrote on the Chinese question and in his efforts to eliminate the Chinese presence from the American labor market both before and after the passage of the exclusion act.

From the mid-1870s Gompers would make opposition to Chinese immigration a central plank of his labor union platforms. He admired the adoption in 1875 of the "white label" by San Francisco's white cigarmakers.

On the Chinese question Gompers never repudiated his statement of 1894 in which he declared his opposition to the "evil effect of [the] Chinese invasion: [a] people . . . who allow themselves to be barbarously tyrannized over in their own country, and who menace the progress, the economic and social standing of the workers of other countries, cannot be fraternized with."

So sure was Gompers that Asiatic immigration constituted a major threat not only to American labor but to American society that, from 1905 until his death two decades later, he entertained dark suspicions about some kind of evil force at work to thwart his exclusionist efforts.

The opposition to the Chinese coolie is not alone because of his race or his religion, but because of the economic position he occupies in this country . . . They do not assimilate with our people, do not wear our clothing, do not adopt our customs, language, religion or sentiments. It is said that the Chinese, if given an opportunity, will become Americanized. The Chinese coolie will no more become Americanized than an American can take on the habits, customs, garb and religion of the Mongolian . . . American and Chinese civilizations are antagonistic; they cannot live and thrive and both survive on the same soil. Powderly closed this peroration with a dire prophecy: "One or the other must perish."

This screed from a Knights of Labor pamphlet, "China's Menace to the World," by Thomas Magee, distributed in San Francisco in 1878.:

By his industry, suavity and apparent child-like innocence, seconded by unequaled patience and the keenest business ability, the Chinaman is always the winner. Let white men set over him whatever guards they may, he can surpass them in threading the by-ways of tortuousness. Dr. S. Wells Williams, in his standard work on China, "The Middle Kingdom," makes these remarks on the untruthfulness of the Chinese: "There is nothing which tries one so much, when living among them, as their disregard of truth; or renders him so indifferent to what calamities may befall so mendacious a race. An abiding impression of suspicion rests upon the mind toward everybody here, which chills the warmest wishes for their welfare. Their better traits diminish in the distance, and the patience is exhausted when in daily proximity and friction with this ancestor of sins."
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Thus, on January 8, 1892, an article in the San Francisco Chronicle quoted him censuring employers who opposed exclusion: "Standing behind them [i.e., the Chinese] are Christian employers of this land, who would rather import heathen willing to work for barely enough to sustain life than retain a brother Christian at a wage sufficient to live as becomes a Christian. We do not want opium or the Chinese who grow it . . . "

A decade later, Powderly, having become Commissioner-General of Immigration, and after 1900 in sole charge of enforcing Chinese exclusion, was still unsatisfied: "No graver danger has ever menaced the workingmen of America," he thundered, "than that which faces them when the possibility of lowering the bars at our seaports and border-lines to the Chinese is presented."

Powderly took a leading position on the latter issue when he evicted Chinese workers from his own labor organization. When, in 1887, Chinese assemblies of the Knights of Labor were organized by District 49, Powderly ordered that they be disbanded forthwith, he having already "gone on record as not only opposing Chinese labor but also declaring that Chinese and Japanese were unfit to reside in the United States."

In California, the Catholic church had chosen to serve its new-immigrant Irish and Italian constituencies and turned its back on Chinese immigrants, its leading local priest becoming a well-known speaker favoring exclusion.

The anti-Chinese rhetoric of this East Coast journalist, a Sinophobic demagogue "would later emerge as the nation's preeminent labor editor of the 1880s, proprietor of a radical newspaper that bore his name."

In 1870 Swinton published an editorial in the New York Tribune, denouncing the Chinese as "inferior," "depraved," practitioners of "indecent and obscene, foul and mortifying vices," and asked, "Can we afford to admit the transfusion into the national veins of a blood more debased than any we have known," and answered his own question, stating that it entailed but an easily understood conflict: between "the roast rat against the roast beef," (an adumbration of the infamous paper by Samuel Gompers and Hermann Gudstadt, issued by the American Federation of Labor in Washington, D.C., in 1902,and entitled, "Some Reasons for Chinese Exclusion.)

During a meeting to urge Congress to renew the Chinese Exclusion Act, San Francisco mayor James Duval Phelan suggested limiting Japanese immigration as well. "The Japanese are starting the same tide of immigration which we thought we had checked twenty years ago," he declared. "The Chinese and Japanese are not bona fide [true] citizens. They are not the stuff of which American citizens can be made."
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The California legislature also pressed Congress to slow the influx of Japanese immigrants. "Japanese laborers, by reason of race habits, mode of living, disposition and general characteristics, are undesirable," read part of the state resolution delivered to Capitol Hill. "Japanese . . . do not buy land [or] build or buy houses. . . . They contribute nothing to the growth of the state. They add nothing to its wealth, and they are a blight on the prosperity of it, and a great and impending danger to its welfare." Such accusations were not true. Japanese-Americans owned many farms and were very important producers of fruits and vegetables. In fact, only a few years later, the California legislature would accuse Japanese-Americans of owning too much land. For more info, click HERE

In 1902 the United Mine Workers had unleashed a vituperative campaign in behalf of extending Chinese exclusion and followed that with a program of opposition to Japanese immigration. To East Coast white workers of the late 19th century, the Chinese Exclusion Act was merely an "indirect result of the labor uprising of 1877." For, although "workers would continue to express only minimal interest in immigration restriction, other groups would begin to see it as a solution for the nation's industrial problems." These "other groups" apparently are the politicians and the forces of monopoly capitalism; for Gyory concludes that "This atmosphere of violence and uncertainty breathed new life into the anti-Chinese movement among those seeking to eliminate or defuse class tensions [!]"

In fact, shortly after the white laborers' violent uprising that left over 40 Chinese dead, drove the rest out of their homes and torched the town's Chinese quarters, the officers of the Union Pacific Coal Department that had first introduced Chinese workingmen into the Wyoming mines, determined to rid themselves of all of the latter and as many as possible of the unionized white workers as well, replacing both with nonunion Mormon miners and, more significantly, with new labor-saving machinery.
REMEMBERING 1882 PANEL (Part 5 & 6 of 8)
Click HERE to Go to Part 7 & 8

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).

Ng, who succeeded in obtaining a reclassification of newspaper editors as educators rather than laborers, toured the United States in behalf of a repeal of the law, published an eloquent refutation of the exclusionist position in The New York Times, and debated both Powderly and Gompers when, in 1905, they sought an even harsher measure prohibiting the coming of Asians to America.


Ng Poon Chew (March 14, 1866 - March 13, 1931) was known as the "Father of Chinese Journalism on the West Coast." This pioneer was an author (in 1905 co-authored "A Statement for Non-Exclusion and in 1908 wrote "The Treatment of the Exempt Classes of Chinese in the United States), journalist, publisher, speaker (lectured throughout the United States on topics such as "Christian Missions Among the Chinese" / in 1906, he consistently spoke in favor of a relaxation of the exclusionary legislation and was dubbed the "Chinese Mark Twain" because of his mastery of the use of humor in the English language), philantropist (supported Sun Yat-sen's reformation fund-raising efforts, member of the Freemasons and first Chinese to become a Shriner) and advocate for Chinese American civil rights.

He published the first Chinese language daily newspaper to be printed outside of China. He graduated from San Francisco Theological Seminary in 1892 and received numerous awards (Litt.D. Honorary Degree Conferred in 1913 from the University of Pittsburgh). Ng traveled the country speaking out against anti-Chinese legislation, such as the Chinese Exclusion Act. He also published books and pamphlets opposing discrimination against Chinese Americans. Eventually he became one of the most famous Chinese-Americans to take up the cause of Chinese-Americans.

He lectured on the Chautauqua and Lyceum speaking circuits educating Americans about China and the Chinese communities. He tried to foster good relations between the United States and China and was recognized for his expertise and skill in addressing a wide variety of topics. His sense of humor, keen wit and fluency in English made him exceptionally popular with audiences. He participated in activities with the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco, the American Academy of Political and Social Science, and the American Economic Association. He was one of the first Chinese immigrants to become nationally known and was called the "Chinese Mark Twain." For additional information on Ng Poon Chew, click HERE

A study published in 1916, by Tien-Lu Li, Professor of English at Peking University, who, having not only examined the facts and forces associated with the Burlingame Treaty of 1868, the modification of the latter in 1880, the treaty of 1894, the Exclusion Acts of 1882, 1884, 1888, 1892, 1893, 1902, and 1904, the extension of the exclusion laws to Hawaii and the Philippine Islands after 1898, and also critically appraised both the pro- and the anti- exclusionist positions, concluded, "It is no solution of the problem that omits the main . . . question . . . the exclusion of Chinese laborers . . . If the present policy is sound, wise, and in accordance with eternal truth and justice, then let it be pursued and maintained, cost what it may. But it would do no harm to pause and think whether it is."

Organized labor fought for another 60 years to maintain and enlarge Asiatic exclusion from both the country and the labor sector;

  • How Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, East Indians, and other peoples declared to be aliens ineligible to citizenship in the United States because they were neither white nor persons of African nativity or African descent petitioned the courts either for reclassification as whites or for the exclusion law and the naturalization statute to be declared unconstitutional;
  • Or how those laws made it a virtual impossibility for Chinese laborers in the United States to live a normal family life, leading an unknown number to rectify matters through smuggling, through the documentary creation of "paper sons," and through resort to the subterfuge that the Immigration and Naturalization Service came to call the "slot racket."


The trouble with the question of removing
(San Francisco) Chinatown to a more suitable locality has always been that its proposers have been demagogic politicians of the sand-lot variety. The man, when elected to the Mayoral chair [Isaac Kalloch] by the sandlot elements, issued his proclamation declaring Chinatown to be a "nuisance," and requiring its inhabitants to get out with their bag and baggage within thirty days, at the end of which time the place would be destroyed as a menace to the public health. Of course, the labor elements, living for the most part south of Market street, and who rarely, if ever, came into contact with Chinatown, shouted themselves hoarse.

Yellow peril (sometimes Yellow Terror) was a phrase that originated in the late 19th century with greater immigration of Chinese and Japanese laborers to various Western countries, notably the United States.
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The Chief Magistrate of the city had given the word, and it was not for them to question its legality. They were ready at the expirty of the days of grace they avowed, to wade knee deep in blood if necessary to drive the yellow peril into the sea. The police were called in from their beats and housed in the vicinity of the threatened danger; the militia, strongly armed, occupied the armories, and meanwhile the law was invoked which declared the Mayor's proclamation to be illegal, and restrained all parties from committing any overt act.

The laborers were in earnest, but Kalloch was not. He respectfully bowed to the decision of the courts, and the trouble blew over. The cry that "the Chinese must go!" was the shibboleth with which the demagogues at that time conjured the working man's vote into the ballot box. It was not the uncleanliness of Chinatown that they were concerned about, but the capacity of the little brown men to work hard, keep sober, live economically, and render their employers a maximum of service for a minimum of wages. To terrorize the Chinese into leaving the country was the purpose of the sandlotters.

We need the Chinese, but we do not need Chinatown in his present condition or location. The Chinese now have one of the best parts of town, and they have forfeited their right to it by their habits of life.

At the turn of the century, Chinatown was a neighborhood of narrow streets and dilapidated Victorians -- the oldest part of San Francisco. Immigrants, most of them bachelors, had added balconies, displaying silk-and-bamboo lanterns and other touches of their homeland: potted flowers and plants, signs in Chinese, triangular yellow flags with a dragon to signify the merchant's rank. After the quake, the city's Reconstruction Committee wanted to move Chinatown 6 miles away to Hunters Point. "You have to understand, from the time the Chinese arrived (until) the earthquake, San Francisco City Hall was trying to get rid of them. Not to move them somewhere -- but to move them back to China," said historian Phil Choy, 79, an American-born son of a paper son. But the effort to move Chinatown stalled when the Chinese government and white merchants warned that U.S.-China relations would suffer if Chinatown were pushed aside. Chinese merchants quickly staked their claim by rebuilding. They devised a plan to make Chinatown a valued asset of San Francisco -- a tourist spot. The architecture they chose was not authentic but a fanciful interpretation designed by white architects. Pagodas in the Far East are religious buildings, erected as memorials or shrines, for example, while in Chinatown they house shops.


The Washington Supreme Court in 1902 barred
Takuji Yamashita from practicing law solely because he was born a member of the "yellow race." Three days before his 28th birthday, the state Supreme Court unanimously rejected Yamashita's petition for admission to the bar and voided the citizenship Pierce County had granted him. The five white Washington justices concluded unapologetically that excluding people based on race dated to the founding of the country, and thus "expressed a settled national will" on the subject.

On March 1, 2001, the state's modern-day Supreme Court is poised to make amends for this dark, little-known chapter in the state's racist history. Responding to a petition from the UW Law School and the state bar association, the high court plans to reverse its century-old action and admit Yamashita posthumously to the state bar.


The Fuji Athletic Club, the first Japanese American baseball club, was organized in San Francisco. Made up of immigrants who had learned the game in Japan, it would grow into several semi-pro baseball leagues, with clubs in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Nebraska, Tijuana, Vancouver, Washington and Wyoming.

The teams competed on the regional and state level within the Nisei (second generation Japanese American) League, and played against university teams in the United States, Japan, Korea, and China.

By World War II, there were over 50 Nisei teams in California alone.

BACKGROUND: The story of Japanese American players, coaches, teams, and leagues has very nearly been a lost chapter in American and baseball history. Only today is it being rediscovered, to the benefit of America, baseball, and Japanese Americans alike. A principal reason for this rediscovery is the traveling exhibition Diamonds in the Rough, which tells the story of Japanese Americans in baseball through words, images, and memorabilia. The exhibition, opened in Fresno, California, in 1996 and has since been viewed in cities and towns across the nation as well as at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown. Also in the 1990s, a number of major-league teams, as well as the Hall of Fame, have given belated recognition to surviving Japanese American players of pre-World War II days. Now in their eighties and nineties, these venerable heroes once again stand in the limelight and hear the cheers of baseball fans.

Their story, and the story of their ancestors and descendants, is a tale of a great journey, full of hard-won victories, devastating setbacks, and new triumphs. The travelers on this journey are known by names designating the generations of Japanese immigrants and their descendants:

So much of their story is wrapped up in baseball. If we were to dissect a Nikkei baseball, we would find that the center epitomizes the core members of the Issei and Nisei generations, the pioneers who created a culture. The fiber and strings would represent the communities, weaving their identities, loyalties, and cultural affinities around their teams and players. The leather skin would symbolize the physical and mental toughness developed by the Issei and Nisei who endured the travails of settlement in a new land and the eviction and internment of World War II. The stitching bonds the Issei, Nisei, Sansei, and Yonsei together and seals these family spirits for future generations.


This great actress was nee Wong Liu Tsong, a name which translates to "Frosted Yellow Willows" was born on January 3, 1905. Despite working with stars such as Pearl White, Colleen Moore, Lon Chaney, Marlene Dietrich, Sessue Hayakawa, Douglas Fairbanks, etc. at studios such as Pathe, Warner Brothers and MGM - she never achieved the success she deserved!


The United States' first Korean American, Peter Chang, is born in October. His life is the history of Korean immigrants. His mother boarded one of Korea's first immigrant boats, the Gallic, in 1903, well into pregnancy, and gave birth to Chang at the Crusaders Hospital in Oakland near San Francisco, as Chang became the first Korean-American. Chang considers himself 100 percent Korean and 100 percent American. He is a citizen of the United States, but he cannot escape from being a Korean, which is what makes him a quintessential "Korean-American."

Chang's wife, Helen, who died in 1999, once wrote a long letter to the first lady Eleanor Roosevelt when Chang was denied promotions because of his race. This letter moved the first lady and Chang was appointed as chief warrant officer of the navy in 1943, a rare case at the time for an Asian.

Their son, Peter Jr., 67, was the first Korean to graduate from Stanford Law School. Their daughter Vula, 62, earned a master's degree from Stanford's graduate school of the arts. In 1963, Peter Jr., at the age of 26, was selected as the county prosecutor of Santa Cruz, becoming the first Asian on the mainland and the youngest person to become a selected chief public prosecutor. Chang's grandson Peter the third, 44, earned a Ph.D from Maryland University in naval architecture and currently works in supplying commodities to the navy.


Korean-American leaders say the first group of Korean emigrants arrived in Honolulu on Jan. 13, 1903, when they crossed the Pacific Ocean on the SS Gaelic. This first wave brought a total of 7,226 men, women and children. It ended when Corea was formally annexed by Japan in 1905. Their arrival became possible only after they agreed to work three years in the sugar cane fields. 1500 Japanese and Mexican sugar beet workers strike in Oxnard, California. Koreans in Hawaii form Korean Evangelical Society. Filipino students (pensionados) arrive in the U.S. for higher education. Sugar beet workers comprising the Japanese Mexican Labor Association in Oxnard stage a strike. The Mexican workers refuse to join the union when the American Federation of Labor excludes the Japanese.


Korean Methodist Mission Church was founded by the first group of immigrants from Korea in Hawaii. It is the first Korean church planted outside of Korea. It's first members endured a harsh life on plantations as labors, yet, their faith in our Lord was an investment that continues to reap spiritual dividends. The present-day congregation is primarily made up of Korean Americans, along with Japanese-Americans, Caucasians, and people of Filipino, Vietnamese, Black, Arabic, Hawaiian and other heritages that are reflective of Hawaii's diversity.


400 students (called pensionados) on U.S. government scholarship are often cited as the first "wave" of Filipino immigrants between the years of 1903 and 1924. In reality, the new rulers invested in their education so that they could return to serve as the middle stratum of loyal natives who, subordinated to landlords and compradors, would legitimize U.S. domination.

Other reports state that November 3, 1903 was when the Filipino immigration began. The 103 young scholars ("pensionados") who arrived in California marked the beginning of official Filipino immigration to the United States. However, they were by no means the first Filipinos on the North American continent. In the late 16th century a party of Filipino sailors set down from a galleon to claim Morro Bay, California for the Spanish king. The first permanent Filipino settlements were established in the bayous of Louisiana in 1763 by Manilamen, Spanish-speaking Filipino sailors who had jumped ship to escape the brutality of the Spaniards who had pressed them into service. They lived along the gulf on houses built on stilts and introduced the technique of sun-drying shrimp.

The first wave of Filipino immigration comprised students and unskilled workers and lasted until 1934. They were followed by a second wave (1945-1965) comprising mostly soldiers who had fought with the U.S. during World War II. The third wave, which began in 1966 and continues to the present, is characterized by professionals.


Holt Cheng was the first Chinese American who graduated from a U. S. medical school and passed the California Medical Board. It happened in 1904. He was born on November 6, 1878 in the Wu Shi Village, Zhongshan County, Guangdong Province, China to a farming family.

At the age of eight, he and his cousin were sent to Honolulu, Hawaii to work for their uncle in a small grocery store. When their uncle retired, the boys traveled to California. Holt worked his way through the College of Physician and Surgeons in San Francisco (known nowadays as the University of Pacific) by picking apples and selling pictures on the street.

He graduated in 1904 and passed the California Medical Board examination. After graduation, Dr. Cheng returned to China to practice Western medicine and to be with his parents. He was awarded the "Medical Ju Ren" by the Imperal Chinese Government. He was appointed the Expectant Secretary of the Grand Secretariat and Head Master of the Imperial Army Medical College in Guangzhow.

In 1908, he and his friends founded the Guangdong Guang Hua Medical College which was the first western medical college established by Chinese. He married Edna Rachel Lee of San Francisco on March 20, 1910. He retired in 1931 due to health problems. During the WWII, the family moved to Guangxi Providence. He passed away in 1942 with his wife and son, Homer, at his side. His physician son believed he died of cancer and/or liver disease.


Syngman Rhee (1875-1965), leader of the Independence Club in Korea, arrived in the United States. He proceeded to earn a bachelor's degree from George Washington University, a master's degree from Harvard University, and a doctorate in international law from Princeton University.

On October 10, 1910 - Syngman Rhee returned to Korea after receiving a Ph.D. from Princeton University. He was the first Korean to receive such a degree from an American institution of higher learning, but fled to flee to Hawaii a year later when Japan annexed (took over) Korea. There he organized the Korean Methodist Church and Korean Christian Institute, and later became principal of the Korean Boarding School. Also founder of the Comrade Society, he became a leader in the Korean independence movement.

In 1911 - Syngman Rhee fled Korea, which had been annexed by Japan, and went to Hawaii where he began organizing the Korean Methodist Church and the Korean Christian Institute.

In October 8, 1934 - Syngman Rhee married an Austrian woman, Francesca Donner, and drew a great deal of criticism from the Korean Hawaiian community because she was white.


Dosan Ahn Chang Ho and his wife, Helen Ahn were the first Korean couple in American when they arrived in Riverside California in 1904 and remained there until 1913. They had two sons, Philip (famous pioneering actor) and Philson. Dosan helped Korean laborers find jobs by day, and taught Bible studies and English by night. It was also in Riverside that Ahn laid groundwork for the Provisional Government of Korea and conceived Hung Sa Dahn (Young Korean Academy). Dosan Ahn Chang Ho was a freedom fighter, much like Dr. Martin Luther King. Ahn's spirit continues to live on, 63 years after he gave his life for Korea's independence. In 1938 when human spirit was in jeopardy all over the world, Ahn provided hope to all Koreans in their darkest hours. In 1926, he left America for the last time and was arrested in 1932 by Japanese police while fighting for Korean freedom. He passed away on March 10, 1938 from complications of Japanese imprisonment.


Chinese Exclusion Act made indefinite and applicable to U.S. insular possessions. Japanese plantation workers engage in first organized strike in Hawaii. Punjabi Sikhs begin to enter British Columbia.


Isamu Noguchi is born in Los Angeles, CA.


Section 60 of California's Civil Code amended to forbid marriage between whites and "Mongolians." Koreans establish Korean Episcopal Church in Hawaii and Korean Methodist Church in California. San Francisco School Board attempts to segregate Japanese schoolchildren. Korean immigration ends. Koreans in San Francisco form Mutual Assistance Society. Asiatic Exclusion League formed in San Francisco.


The 1905 Supreme Court case
United States v. Ju Toy established the Department of Commerce and Labor as the final level of appeal and due process for immigrants and returning travelers claiming United States citizenship. Thereafter immigrants could appeal to Federal courts only on procedural grounds. As a result of this decision the number of Chinese immigration cases heard in Federal court diminished significantly.


On May 14, the Asiatic Exclusion League was formed in San Francisco, marking the official beginning of the anti-Japanese movement. Among those attending the first meeting were labor leaders (and European immigrants) Patrick Henry McCarthy and Olaf Tveitmoe of the Building Trades Council of San Francisco and Andrew Furuseth and Walter McCarthy of the Sailor's Union. Tveitmoe was named the first president of the organization.

Indian immigration was not wanted. The Asian Exclusion League in collusion with a number politicians was conspiring to restrict Indian immigration.

The Democrats courted the AEL for their political support and in exchange supported restricting Indians. From 1904 through 1911, the AEL maintained a continuous pressure on the US government to restrict Indian immigration.

They spread rumors that Indians were bringing in exotic diseases, that they were polygamists, were "filthy and unsanitary" - health-wise, that created mass hysteria and put pressure on the politicians to restrict immigration.


California urges U.S. Congress to limit
Japanese immigration. On May 14, representatives from sixty-seven organizations, including labor leaders and European immigrants, meet in San Francisco to form Asiatic Exclusion League of San Francisco, marking the first organized effort of the anti-Japanese movement.


Anti-Asian riot in Vancouver. Japanese nurserymen form California Flower Growers' Association. Koreans establish Korean Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles.


Japanese scientists studying the aftermath of the San Francisco earthquake are stoned. San Francisco earthquake destroys most municipal records, opening up the way for Chinese "Paper Sons" to

The Earthquake
April 18, 1906 - San Francisco was wrecked by a Great Earthquake at 5:13 a.m., and then destroyed by the seventh Great Fire that burned for four days. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of trapped persons died when South-of-Market tenements collapsed as the ground liquefied beneath them. Most of those buildings immediately caught fire, and trapped victims could not be rescued. Reevaluation of the 1906 data, during the 1980s, placed the total earthquake death toll at more than 3,000 from all causes. Damage was estimated at $500,000,000 in 1906 dollars.

Tremors were familiar enough to the Forty-Niners who settled in California, but people did not pay enough attention to fire. On six separate occasions during the Gold Rush, San Francisco was ravaged by fire, and when water ran out, firefighters were reduced to blowing up buildings in the path of the flames. But the boom-and-bust ethos of the age prompted the citizenry to regard a fire as nothing more than an opportunity to build an even bigger and better city. "Nil Desperandum" ("Never despair") was the slogan that one optimistic landowner carved on the facade of his house after rebuilding for the fourth or fifth time.

What they failed to understand was the special ferocity of fire in the confined spaces of a city, the so-called synergistic phenomenon of extreme burning, as fire historian Stephen J. Pyne puts it. When many small fires converge and convective winds of more than 100 miles per hour are generated, an urban fire is a holocaust: "Given the intensity of the toxic gasses and the radiant heat, people die from asphyxiation, burns, and the inhalation of poison gasses such as carbon monoxide."

Then, too, San Francisco was especially vulnerable to fire on the eve of the 1906 quake. Ninety percent of its buildings were wood-framed. The highly congested urban center, with its tall buildings and narrow streets, was surrounded by farmland and near-wilderness. The peninsula was swept by strong winds from the sea. Yet the burghers of turn-of-the-century San Francisco neglected to install such modern fire-prevention measures as sprinklers. A commission of the National Board of Fire Underwriters reported in 1905 that "San Francisco has violated all underwriting traditions and precedent by not burning up." Not until April 18, 1906.

History of Chinatown
The earth dragon has awakened, Chinatown residents are said to have screamed as the 1906 earthquake and fire flattened their neighborhood and killed untold numbers.

San Francisco's Chinatown was already under siege before the earthquake. White leaders considered the Chinese an economic threat, filthy and dangerous, and were trying to push them out. The Chinese Exclusion Act, barring most Chinese from entering the United States since 1882, had slowed the flow of newcomers to a trickle of teachers, students and merchants.

Yet when government buildings were destroyed a century ago, so were the birth and immigration records inside. Scores of Chinese recognized the serendipity, claiming citizenship and bringing in their children.

In many cases, for a fee, they also brought in people who weren't their children. Hundreds of those friends and strangers, who came to be known as "paper sons," arrived in the Bay Area in the following decades, changing Chinese America forever.

"In a strange way, we as Chinese Americans are indebted to that disaster," said Felicia Lowe, 60, a Bay Area documentary filmmaker whose father and grandfather were paper sons. "It was a gateway, an opening, a possibility to allow Chinese people to come here."

"People ask, 'Why didn't they count the Chinese?' " he said, referring to the fact that few, if any, deaths from the earthquake and fire were recorded in Chinatown, the city's densest area. " 'Why didn't they care?' "

"This is why," he said, gesturing to a stack of musty leather-bound books in his study: reports to the Board of Supervisors and the California State Senate about the filthy conditions of the Chinese quarter. The alleged horrors included Chinese prostitution, white women living with Chinese men and white prostitution in Chinatown.

Battle to Rebuild Chinatown
Hidden in the glowing version of history favored by later generations was a stark old reality. In the quake's chaos, San Franciscans lashed out at the city's underclass. They beat and shot Chinese immigrants, in part to prevent the rebuilding of Chinatown. The total death count in the disaster may have reached 3,000.

City leaders at the time of the quake set the total death count at more than 400. Researchers now think that 3,000 or more people died and that the fatalities were intentionally minimized so investors, needed to rebuild the city, wouldn't be scared away. But no one knows how many people died in the densely packed blocks of Chinatown, with an estimated population of 14,000.

Racism against the Chinese was rampant in that age. Chinese immigrants had come to work in the railroads and mines and were widely viewed as a competitive threat to the working class

What the Chinese of San Francisco were prepared to defend was largely a bachelor society. Restrictive immigration laws prevented Chinese men from bringing their families to America. Before the quake, Chinatown had a reputation as a crowded slum rife with disease, brothels and opium. But Starr says Chinatown also had something that city leaders envied: it occupied one of the most desirable locations in the city.

"By 1906 on the verge of the earthquake, it suddenly dawned on the establishment of San Francisco that the prime real estate of the city... at the absolute epicenter, with its commanding views, was Chinatown.

In fact, even before the '06 quake, the local newspapers editorialized in favor of moving the Chinese. After the quake, city leaders presented their plans to relocate Chinatown to the mud flats on the southern outskirts of the city. The plans were presented at a meeting between the city relocation committee, the Chinese Family Associations and the Chinese Consulate. But the Chinese had different plans, says historian Judy Yung.

How did the Chinese resist relocation?
The relocation committee did not anticipate stiff resistance from the government of China. Chow-Tszchi, first secretary of the Chinese Legation at Washington arrived in Oakland within a few days of the earthquake and met with Chung Pao Hsi, China's consul-general in San Francisco. They, in turn, met with Governor Pardee in Oakland, and told him of the Empress-Dowager's displeasure with the relocation plan, and that the government of China would rebuild its San Francisco consulate in the heart of old Chinatown.

"I have heard the report that the authorities intend to remove Chinatown, but I cannot believe it," the Chinese delegation stated. "America is a free country, and every man has a right to occupy land which he owns provided that he makes no nuisance. The Chinese Government owns the lot on which the Chinese Consulate of San Francisco formerly stood, and this site on Stockton street will be used again. It is the intention of our Government to build a new building on the property, paying strict attention to the new building regulations which may be framed."

Governor Pardee was asked for letters to General Greely, General Funston and Mayor Schmitz, authorizing those officials to grant to the properly accredited Chinese representatives the right to enter the guarded section and care for the distressed Chinese as well as provide for the protection of their burned places of business. The letters were given them, and, armed with this authority, the party returned to San Francisco.

What was the city's final decision on relocating Chinatown?
Chinatown then, as today, occupied some of the most valuable real estate in San Francisco, with its sixteen-square-blocks set between Nob Hill and the financial center of the West.

Stiff resistance from the government of China and the fear of losing trade with the Orient, ended this relocation scheme, and rebuilding of Chinatown soon began.

April 23, 1906 - Imperial decree on the 30th Day of the Third Moon from Empress Dowager of China to send 100,000 taels as a personal contribution to the relief of the San Francisco sufferers. President Theodore Roosevelt declined the offer, as well as donations from other foreign governments. "The consul general said, 'The Empress is not happy about Chinatown being relocated. We intend to rebuild the Chinese consulate in the heart of Chinatown where it was."

The Chinese also had another economic argument in their favor. They knew that their taxes contributed greatly to the city's coffers and that other Western port cities would welcome them. San Francisco leaders relented and the reconstruction of Chinatown began about a year after the disaster.

Movement of Chinatown After the Earthquake:
After the 1906 earthquake and fire, the General Relief Committee proposal to gather all Chinese in the temporary camp at the Presidio was quickly adopted on April 26, and a committee comprised of Abraham "Abe" Ruef; James D. Phelan; Jeremiah Deneen; Dr. James W. Ward, president of the Health Commission, and Methodist minister Dr. Thomas Filben, chairman, was appointed to take charge of the question of the permanent location of the Chinese quarter. Chinatown then, as today, occupied some of the most valuable real estate in San Francisco, with its sixteen-square-blocks set between Nob Hill and the financial center of the West.

From a strictly political standpoint this was a remarkable committee because Abe Ruef and James D. Phelan were arch-enemies. Their common ground was abiding racism and hatred for the Chinese. It is remarkable to think that within six days of the Great Fire, this committee was appointed and had adopted a plan to move Chinatown to Hunters Point. The idea was not new. Industrialist John Partridge proposed an "Oriental City" at Hunters Point before the earthquake, and it had the support of Mayor Schmitz.

Their common ground was abiding racism and hatred for the Chinese. It is remarkable to think that within six days of the Great Fire, this committee was appointed and had adopted a plan to move Chinatown to Hunters Point. The idea was not new. Industrialist John Partridge proposed an "Oriental City" at Hunters Point before the earthquake, and it had the support of Mayor Schmitz. Telegrams sent by the War Department to General Funston, and the pending arrival of the Chinese consul-general from Washington, may have also been deciding factors in the quick establishment of a committee to "assist" the Chinese.

Politically astute members of the committee were concerned that San Francisco, ridding itself of the Chinese, would also lose its lucrative Oriental trade. With virtually all of Chinatown destroyed, most of its inhabitants fled to Oakland, other cities in the East Bay, or huddled in the refugee camp at the west end of the Presidio.

But the committee apparently did not anticipate stiff resistance from the government of China. Chow-Tszchi, first secretary of the Chinese Legation at Washington arrived in Oakland within a few days of the earthquake and met with Chung Pao Hsi, China's consul-general in San Francisco. They, in turn, met with Governor Pardee in Oakland, and told him of the Empress-Dowager's displeasure with the plan, and that the government of China would rebuild its San Francisco consulate in the heart of old Chinatown. Stiff resistance from the government of China, and the fear of losing trade with the Orient, ended this relocation scheme, and rebuilding of Chinatown soon began.

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."
What Ruffle the Temper of the Chinese Communities?
"Only this," replied Dr. Thomas Filben, chairman of the sub-committee on the relief of Chinese and the permanent location of Chinatown, "that the Chinese have been hustled from one temporary camp to another without ceremony. After the fire they were gathered together and put in a temporary camp near Fort Mason. Then there was a summary conference of which it was decided to remove them to the Presidio golf links. They remained overnight and were then hustled out of there and hurried over to a location further away, where the few Chinese remaining in the city are now encamped."

A. Ruef declared there was no disposition to harass the Chinese nor to exclude them from a full participation in the commercial life of the city. He thought matters would be amicably adjusted at the conference today.

Looters in Chinatown
Fifteen and twenty members of the National Guard of California had been arrested by the sentries of his regiment for looting in the burned district, principally in Chinatown

Earthquake Effects on the Chinese Communities
The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was still in effect. Although all Asians were affected, 97 percent of the immigrants processed through Angel Island were Chinese. After the earthquake and fire of 1906 destroyed records that verified citizenship, many Chinese residents of California were able to claim citizenship for themselves and dozens of "paper children."

How did the city of San Francisco respond to the needs of the city's Chinese American population after the 1906 earthquake and fire?
As the Chinese exited Chinatown, city officials sought to prevent them from returning. In a poorly planned evacuation, Chinese refugees were shuttled to various relief camps all over the city.

A temporary camp on Van Ness prompted relocation to the Presidio because city officials argued that the site would prove difficult to dismantle once the Chinese settled again in a location so close to the original Chinatown. The Chinese presence at the Presidio Golf Links greatly displeased neighbors "where the summer zephyrs would blow the odors of Chinatown into their front doors." The Chinese refugees were transferred, again, the next day to a more remote location on the Presidio near Fort Point.

Moments of Comedy and Courage
One Amadeo Peter Giannini, founder of a tiny bank that would one day become the Bank of America, transferred $80,000 in gold and silver from the vault to a couple of wagons from his produce business, concealed the money under crates of oranges and headed out of San Francisco to his home in San Mateo.

When he returned to the city two days later, Giannini put a bag of gold "on a plank laid over two barrels on the Washington Street wharf" and started making rebuilding loans. "For weeks afterward, the money smelled of orange juice."

Arts Helped the Recovery
At the time of the earthquake - it was the eighth-largest American city, and the economic and cultural hub of the West Coast. In the aftermath, much of the city was leveled. But through it all, San Francisco's arts community kept singing, writing, acting, and raising money to help bring the city back to life.


San Francisco Board of Education votes to exclude
Japanese, Korean, and Chinese children from public school. Children, who are to be sent to Oriental Public School, are kept home by their parents.


Chinatown in the city of Santa Ana was deliberately BURNED DOWN to eliminate Chinese Americans in the city. This was planned and executed - despite all parties recognizing that it was unconstitutional!

ADDITIONAL DETAILS: One of the more sensational chapters in the history of the SAFD (Santa Ana Fire Department) concerned the burning of Chinatown. A leper was discovered living in one of the shacks near Third and Bush Street. The area was covered with small, closely built wooden structures, many of which were connected by a maze of underground tunnels and inhabited by people of Chinese ancestry. After the leper was found, a secret meeting of the Board of Trustees was held. It was decided that the SAFD (Santa Ana Fire Department) would raze the area by fire, thereby sparing the remainder of the City from the dreaded disease. On May 25, 1906, the SAFD arrived to surprisingly discover a crowd of several hundred people gathered to watch the spectacle, since this plan was a closely guarded secret. The fire was started with hose lines used to protect the exposures. These lines, along with a light rain that was falling, prevented the fire from spreading beyond the intended area.


Japan and the U.S. reach "Gentlemen's Agreement" whereby Japan stops issuing passports to laborers desiring to immigrate to the U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt signs Executive Order 589 prohibiting Japanese with passports for Hawaii, Mexico, or Canada to re-immigrate to the U.S. Koreans form United Korean Society in Hawaii. First group of Filipino laborers arrives in Hawaii. Asian Indians are driven out of Bellingham, Washington. Korean laborers are banned from immigrating to the United States.

Side Note: The essence of the "Yellow Peril" was a conspiracy theory holding that the Japanese emperor intended to invade the Pacific Coast, and that he was sending these immigrants to American shores as shock troops to prepare the way for just such a military action. As Phelan put it in 1907, the Japanese immigrants represented an "enemy within our gates." Agitators frequently cited a 1909 book promoting this theory, Homer Lea's The Valor of Ignorance, which detailed the invasion to come and its aftermath.


Peasants were recruited by the Hawaiian Sugar Planters Association as cheap contract labor when the Gentlemen's Agreement of 1907 cut off the Japanese supply. From 1907 to 1933, Filipino "nationals," neither citizens nor aliens, numbered 118, 436 - seven out of ten percent of Hawaii plantation workers! Severely exploited and confined to squalid barracks, Filipinos joined with Japanese, Chinese, Korean and other nationalities in a series of militant strikes in 1920 and 1924.

Soong Sisters & Mother
Soong Ling Ching
The Soong Sisters
Three prominent U.S.-educated Hakka women, the S
oong sisters, Ai-ling, Ching-ling and May-ling, individually and together with their blood relatives and in-laws, played in different ways influential and controversial roles in the affairs of twentieth century China since one loved money, one loved power, and one loved China. Their influence was built upon the rising wealth and power of their family headed by their father, Charlie Soong (1866-1918), before and during the rise to power of the Nationalists led by Sun Yat-sen and Chiang Kai-shek. They each played a major role in influencing their husbands (in Ching-ling’s case, carrying on her late husband’s work), which, along with their own positions of power, ultimately changed the course of Chinese history – along with the (reportedly) help of various people such as a vicious Shanghai gangster named “Big Eared” Tu that purportedly promoted Chaing Kai-shek from a career in extortion and assassination to become the Supreme Leader of China. These women, along with their parents and brothers, during their lifetimes were major players in politics at the highest level from China to the United States (despite the American general public's anti-Chinese sentiment and long-standing racist legislation such as the Chinese Exclusion Law that started in 1882 and ended in 1943) and the world. Their ability to speak effectively and persuasively in multiple languages from English (breaking a false stereotype) to Chinese and other languages provided them to effectively interact with prominent world leaders at a time where female power brokers were rare in the international world.

The sisters were carefully groomed to assume those roles. The influence of Ching-ling (Mme. Sun) peaked shortly after the death of Sun yat-sen in 1925, but she remained until her death a symbol of the Chinese revolution which had miscarried. Ai-ling and May¬ling (as Mmes. Kung and Chiang Kai-shek, respectively), wielded significant power during the Nationalist period. They lived the remainder of their long lives in relative obscurity, except for brief periods when they were used to sustain the emigre regime in Taiwan. Their machinations and questionable methods of acquiring and maintain their influence, as well as their triumphs and their failures, can only be understood in the context of the turbulent course of 20th century Chinese history. By force of their distinctive personalities, they each left an indelible mark on the history of China.

Throughout their lifetimes, each one of the sisters followed their own belief in terms of supporting the Kuomintang (KMT) or the Communist Party of China. In the 1930s, Soong Ai-ling and her sister Mei-ling were the two richest women in China at the time. Both of them supported the Nationalists, while Soong Ching-ling later sided with the CPC. Their differing political views kept them estranged throughout most of their lives.

In 1937 when the Second Sino-Japanese war broke out, all three of them got together after a 10 year separation in an effort to unite the KMT and CPC against the Imperial Japanese army. Soong Ai-ling devoted herself to social work such as helping wounded soldiers, refugees and orphans. She donated five ambulances and 37 trucks to the army in Shanghai and the air force, along with 500 leather uniforms. When the Japanese occupied Nanjing and Wuhan, the three sisters moved to Hong Kong. In 1940, they returned to Chongqing and established the Chinese Industrial Cooperatives, which opened job opportunities for people through weaving, sewing and other crafts. The sisters frequently visited schools, hospitals, orphanages, air raid shelters and aided war torn communities along the way. While both parties failed to unite at the most critical time in the 1940s, the sisters made a valiant effort in financing and assisting in all national activities.

Their father was an American-educated Methodist minoster Charlie Soong, who made a fortune in banking and printing. Their mother was Ni Kwei-tseng. The three brothers were all high-ranking officials in the Republic of China government. Ching-ling is remembered for her wholehearted devotion to her country and her impassioned essays for the student magazine on the subject of the Chinese Revolution. Ai-ling received her A.B. in the Wesleyan class of 1909 and promptly returned to Shanghai, where she secured a post as secretary to Sun Yat-sen. Charlie Soong viewed the marriage between his old friend (Sun Yat-sen and his young daughter as a betrayal, and the union remained a source of contention in the Soong family.

Over the years, Wesleyan and its most famous alumnae have kept in contact with many of their Wesleyan friends, including Margie Burks, Jenny Daughtry, Jennie Loyall (Manget), Mary Gray Munroe Cobey, and Freda Nadler. Many Wesleyan alumnae have memories of their famous sisters. The college has hosted scores of visitors wishing to see the Soong memorabilia in the Willet Library’s Georgia Room. Wesleyan staff have also provided background information, documents, and photos for such projects as NHK (Japan Broadcasting Company)’s 1994 special The Soong Sisters: The Glamorous Family that Dominated China and a 1996 TV Ontario documentary.

Ai-ling visited Wesleyan in 1932, and May-ling came back in 1943 and 1965. In 1995, Wesleyan hosted a traveling exhibition of artifacts pertaining to the life of Soong Ching-ling, who died in 1981, having never revisited her alma mater. The college presented the honorary Doctor of Laws to Madame Chiang and to her two absent sisters. The sisters have directly or indirectly been responsible for the establishment of several scholarship funds at Wesleyan such as the DuPont Guerry Scholarship and the May-ling Soong Chiang Scholarship.

Soong Mei-Ling (Madame Chiang Kai-shek)
The youngest sister of the Soong family - she was one of the most influential women of the twentieth century by being a prominent political leader, wife/partner in power of the leader of the Kuomintang (KMT), Generalissimo of the Chinese armies and later President (Chiang Kai-shek – whose son by her first wife, Chiang Ching-kuo, later became the leader of Taiwan).

As an adult, her high energy level and practical intelligence, combined with her wit, flair and charm made her popular in China, especially acknowledging her vast knowledge of Chinese languages, literature and traditions and has seen, and participated in, some most dramatic changes in Chinese history. Upon her marriage, she would be known as the “First Lady” of China. Some people hold the view that Mei-Ling Soong was a greedy woman, that amassed a huge fortune by manipulating government bonds, speculating in silver and currency, and siphoning American aid to China, whenever possible (Johnson, Nancy.Shanghai Hong Kong: Odyssey Publications, Ltd.1999). By the time the Communists took power they had millions of dollars in United States banks.

Mei-ling Soong was born in March 5, 1897 (died October 23, 2003), in Shanghai. Her parents were Yaoju "Charlie" Soong (Methodist minister and businessman) and Kwei Twang Nyi (who was a devout Christian and strict disciplinarian). The fourth of six children, Soong came to the United States in 1908, living near the campus of the Wesleyan College for Women, in Macon, GA, where her sister was a student. The mischievous and sharp-witted May-ling was entrusted to the care of President W. N. Ainsworth’s household. May-ling was privately tutored by two older Wesleyan students: “Miss Margie” Burks, daughter of Wesleyan’s professor of English and “Miss Lucy” Lester and attended school in Demorest, GA. She was an excellent student, who picked up English, which she spoke with a Georgia accent, quickly.

As a little girl – this chubby and spoiled child ruled her family with a reign of terror while always getting her way – “a born Brahmin, tightly wound, haughty and magisterial” as a result of being quick-tempered, easily offended and exacted retribution for slights. At eight years old, she was sent to America (where her elder sisters and brother were already there) to begin her formal schooling in Summit (New Jersey) and at Demorest's Piedmont College in Georgia. In 1913, the outgoing and popular Mei-ling entered Wellesley College to be near her brother T.V. since Ching-ling had left the college, where she majored in English Literature and minored in philosophy. During her time at school – she was named a Durant Scholar (Wellesley's highest academic distinction) and a member of the Tau Zeta Epsilon society. Following her graduation from Wellesley College in 1917 with her bachelor’s degree, she returned to China, where she honed her fluency in spoken Chinese, and studied the classics and literature of China. She did social work for the Y.W.C.A. in Shanghai and was appointed to be a member of Shanghai's Child Labor Commission.

Chiang Kai-shek and his administration were themselves heavily dependent on opium revenue. Chiang had had his early political career bankrolled by an infamous Shanghai gangster name Tu Yueh-sheng, also known as Big-eared Tu, who ran the Green Gang, a large, particularly well-organized and ruthless Chinese secret fraternity.
Big-eared Tu Yueh- sheng, who, with two associates known as Pockmarked Huang Chih- jung and Curio Chang Ching-chang (for his profiteering in Chinese antiquities), ran the Shanghai underworld with spectacularly insouciant brutality.
As trade grew, so did the port city's underworld, with Pockmarked Huang and Big-Eared Tu at the center. Nicknamed after his childhood scars from smallpox, Huang, cunning and greedy, started as the head police chief of the French Concession and soon became a mob boss. Tu, a wily opium addict, lost his parents when he was 9, and found his footing as a gambler and thief before he became a rising star in the underworld.
"At the peak of its spectacular career the swamp-ridden metropolis surely ranked as the most pleasure-mad, rapacious, corrupt, strife-ridden, licentious, squalid, and decadent city in the world."
Anyone remotely familiar with Chinese history, or with even modest knowledge of world history, knows Shanghai's pre-World War II reputation as both the "Paris of the East" and the "Whore of the East."
For more info, click HERE.


Madame Chiang Kai-shek's Speech to Congress
Chiang Kai-shek Dies on April 5, 1975 / Funderal Procession
Madame Chiang initiated China's New Life Movement in 1934, with the goal of the "physical, eduacational and moral rebirth of the Chinese nation", based on traditional Chinese values. In 1936, she assumed the role of Secretary General of the Chinese Commission on Aeronautical Affairs recognizing the importance of the airplane in successful warfare. She was her husband's English translator, secretary, advisor and an influential propogandist for the Nationalist cause while interpreting the social nuances of American behavior that often baffled others in China. She distinguished herself as a skilled negotiator during the "Xi'an Incident" – freeing Chiang Kai-shek’s release in Xian in December, 1936.

In February, 1943, Madame Chiang became the first Chinese national, and the second woman, to ever address a joint session of the U.S. House and Senate, making the case for strong U.S. support of China in its war with Japan. Her appeal was so moving she received a four minute standing ovation that created a concern to senior politicians that resulted in the rumor that the bestowal of the airplanes was an effort to persuade her to end her trip to America. She came to Wellesley College the next month, her first visit to her alma mater following her graduation in 1917. In a nationally broadcast speech, Madame Chiang addressed assembled students and faculty in Alumnae Hall.

Her good looks and American demeanor emphasizing similarities rather than differences between the two cultures cultivated her greatest admirers (foreigners/Americans such as General Stilwell and Wendell Wilkie) with whom she came into contact – as noted by her speeches being attended by crowds up to 30,000 people and the American media’s adoration (as noted by her making the cover of Time Magazine). She was a consummate politician (though she had the habit of rewriting speeches and retranslating the “official interpretation”), but never hesitated to play both ends against the middle to reach her goals of having China recognized as a great power and her husband a war leader on a level with Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin. One of her many triumphs was securing airplanes out of FDR – in addition to her above-listed address to Congress.

Madame Chiang also wrote a great number of books and articles, primarily for the American market. She remained in the forefront of the fight against Communism until the Nationalist retreat to Taiwan. In 1965 she returned to the United States to plead for war materiel with which to retake Mainland China, but received no aid. When Chiang Kai-shek died Mei-ling again returned to the United States. She lives in New York, where she observed her hundredth birthday by opening an exhibit of her own paintings

Behind all of them was Big-Eared Tu, the boss of the Green Gang and the children's godfather. He was a major force that helped both establish and maintain both Chiang Kai-Shek and the Soongs in their positions of influence.
The Farmers Bank of China, colloquially known amongst expatriate Europeans as the Opium Farmers Bank, was in augurated in the same year. Chiang Kai-shek was closely involved in it and used it for his private banking transactions. A conduit for heroin and opium revenue, it issued its own notes, Chiang increasing the print run when his funds ran low. The reserves were never audited nor the books opened for inspection.
For more info, click HERE

In 1949, when Chiang Kai-shek fled the mainland to Taiwan, Madame Chiang continued to play a prominent international role. She was the honorary chair of the American Bureau for Medical Aid to China, a Patron of the International Red Cross Committee, honorary chair of the British United Aid to China Fund, and First Honorary Member of the Bill of Rights Commemorative Society. Through the late 1960's she was included among America's 10 most admired women. President Chiang Kai-shek died during his fifth term, in 1975. Following her husband's death, Madame Chiang returned to the U.S., residing in Lattington, NY.

Her many published works include This Is Our China (1940), Sian: a coup d'Etat (1941) and The Sure Victory (1955). Among the institutions to grant Madame Chiang honorary degrees are Boston University, Hahnemann Medical College, Loyola University, University of Michigan, and Wellesley College.

When all the clan members are brought together in a single study, it is possible
to see how they helped and hindered each other in the path to power, and to seein sharp relief their regime's long involvement with and dependence upon the Shanghai gangster underworld.''
- - - (Sterling Seagrave) - - -

"When Mei-ling dined with the Roosevelts, the President asked how she and the Generalissimo would deal with a wartime strike of coal miners. Everyone at the table gasped when Mei-ling silently drew a long lacaquered nail across her throat. Roosevelt laughed hollowly and - catching Eleanor's attention - asked, 'Did you see that?' Eleanor privately remarked, 'She can talk beautifully about democracy, but she does not know how to live democracy.'" (from Sterling Seagrave’s book)

Soong Ching-ling
This native (2nd oldest sister of the Charlie Soong family) of Wenchang County in the Guangdong Province was one of the founders of the People"s Republic of China; the Honorary President of the country; a beloved leader of the Chinese people, including Taiwan compatriots and overseas Chinese; a world-famous soldier of patriotism, democracy, internationalism and communism; an experienced forerunner for defending world peace, and an outstanding member of the Communist Party of China. Ching-ling, however, is remembered for her wholehearted devotion to her country. When dynastic control of China was finally overthrown in 1911, Ching-ling tore down the old banner of the Chinese dragon from her wall and vehemently replaced it with the new flag her father had sent her. Ching-ling wrote several impassioned essays for the student magazine on the subject of the Chinese Revolution. Hence, at the age of eighteen - Ching-ling began to speak out against the conditions of women in her country in a non-violent manner which expressed her ideals of Liberty and Equality.

She (whose Christian name was Rosamond) was born on January 27, 1897 in Nanshi (a part of present day Huangpu District in Shanghai). She attended McTyeire School for Girls in Shanghai and graudated from Weslevan College in Macon, Georgia. When Soong Ching-Ling was a student in the United States she began to seriously consider the conditions of women in China. The first and foremost Chinese practice that she singled out was the issue of arranged marriages. Through the influences of Western emancipation, Ching-Ling tackled this institution by declaring that the abolition of arranged marriages would further the liberation of both women and men in China.

In 1951, two years after the People's Republic of China was founded, at the time of the Korean war, the United States was doing its best to starve new China through its blockades. Contrary to rumor, China was in the process of reconstruction. Its people had shaken off the yoke of old forces and begun a new life. Factories recommenced production, and peasants were allocated land. The whole country appeared as a picture of prosperity. To this day, there are many Chinese people that believe the early days of reconstruction in the 1950s were the most exciting.

Soong Ching Ling was a born information disseminator. While a student at the Wesleyan College, she was literary editor of the school journal. Her English was outstanding, even compared to her hundreds of American fellow students.

In 1913, Ching-ling graduated from Wellesley and returned to China. When Ai-ling resigned her position with Sun Yat-sen in 1914 to marry future finance minister H. H. Kung, Ching-ling took over Ai-ling's job. "Ching-ling believed as did no one else in [Sun's] revolution." Defying her father's orders, Ching-ling eloped with Sun Yat-sen (“Father of Modern China and its first President from 1968 to 1972) on October 25, 1915. She had always been loyal, humble and respectful and had been Dr. Sun Yat-sen's close companion and able assistant who was responsible for dealing with large number of confidential letters from home and abroad – especially when she became the joint President of the People’s Republic of China with Dong Bong Biwu (1968-1972) and Honorary President in 1981 before the passing of the Constitution in 1982. Charlie Soong, her father, viewed the marriage between his old friend and his young daughter as a betrayal, and the union remained a source of contention in the Soong family.

When she married Sun Yat-sen in 1915 she not only became his wife but a strong political collegue of his. Up until that time women were basically invisible in the eyes of society. Few women would show their faces in public and would rarely accompany their husbands to any social gathering. In a biography of Soong Ching-Ling, Jung Chang writes that Ching-Ling was the first Chinese woman to appear in public with her husband and that she became the first consort of a political leader anywhere in the world to act as "First Lady."

Behind all of them was Big-Eared Tu, the boss of the Green Gang and the children's godfather. He was a major force that helped both establish and maintain both Chiang Kai-Shek and the Soongs in their positions of influence.
The Farmers Bank of China, colloquially known amongst expatriate Europeans as the Opium Farmers Bank, was in augurated in the same year. Chiang Kai-shek was closely involved in it and used it for his private banking transactions. A conduit for heroin and opium revenue, it issued its own notes, Chiang increasing the print run when his funds ran low. The reserves were never audited nor the books opened for inspection.

In May 1921, Dr. Sun was inaugurated as the Extraordinary President of the Republic of China in Guangzhou. In June 1922, she suffered irreparable damage to her health while evacuating Sun Yat-sen through the battle line when Chen Jiongming revolted and bombarded the Generalissimo Mansion.

She became an active critic of the KMT after her husband's death, when the new KMT leader, Ching-ling's brother-in-law Chiang Kai-shek, began purging members of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) from the KMT. Ching-ling believed the KMT had abandoned Sun's original aims of cooperating with the CCP to rid China of imperialists.After the CCP won control of mainland China from the KMT in 1949, Ching-ling remained in China and held high honorific office in the Communist government.

On March 12, 1925, Dr. Sun Yat-sen passed away and soon after, she condemned the right wings of the KMT and devoted herself to the preparation work for the Northern Expedition. In January 1926, during the Second National Congress of the KMT, she carried out Dr. Sun"s Three Major Policies, cooperated closely with the Chinese communists and fought against KTM rightists. After the "April 12 Anti-revolutionary Coup" in 1927 in Shanghai, she (along with Mao Zedong, Dong Biwu, Yun Daiying, Lin Boqu, and Wu Yuzhang) issued a public telegram against Chiang Kai-shek. On the eve of Wang Jingwei"s open mutiny in Wuhan, she published the "Statement in Protest Against the Violation of Sun Yat-sen"s Revolutionary Principles and Policies" and proclaimed her disassociation with the traitors. On August 1st, she (w/others) issued a formal declaration in the name of the KMT Central Committee condemning the betrayal of Chiang Kai-shek and Wang Jingwei.

In the first two years of the ten-year civil war, Soong Ching Ling participated in a series of important international anti-imperialist activities in the Soviet Union and France. In 1929, she was elected as the honorary chairperson of the Second International Anti-Imperialist League and (later) became one of the chief leaders of the World Anti-Fascist Committee.

After she returned to China, she supported the political stand of the Communist Party of China (CPC), firmly refused to take any post in the KMT Central Committee or government, effectively frustrated their threats or temptations, and repeatedly stated her deep aspirations for the cause of socialism many. In 1931, she wrote that the KMT had long abandoned the revolutionary policies; various factions in the party were depending on warlords and trying to please the imperialist leaders while massacring the Chinese people.

When all the clan members are brought together in a single study, it is possible to see how they helped and hindered each other in the path to power, and to seein sharp relief their regime's long involvement with and dependence upon theShanghai gangster underworld.''
- - - (Sterling Seagrave) - - -

In the 1930s, she set-up the China League for Protection of Civil Rights with Lu Xun, Cai Yuanpei and Yang Xingfu. This was done to fight against KMT reactionaries, protected and rescued a large number of Chinese communists and anti-Chiang patriots, making unique and significant contributions to the Chinese revolution. Following the "September 18" Incident of Japanese aggression in Northeastern China, the KMT government followed a non-resistance policy. In 1934, she signed the Six-Point Programme for Resisting Japan and Saving the Nation. She established the "China Defense League" (CDL) in Guangzhou and Hong Kong to raise international aid from foreigners and overseas Chinese who were sympathetic of China"s War of ResistanceAgainst Japanese Aggression. At the end of December 1941, Soong Ching Ling arrived in Chongqing and fought side by side with Dr. George Hatem, Agnes Smedley, Edgar Snow, Rewi Alley and other international friends who sympathized with Chinese people"s revolution and contributed greatly to the War of Resistance.

At about the time of victory of the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression, she established the China Welfare Fund (CWF) in Shanghai. In 1949, Soong Ching Ling was elected as the Vice Chairperson of the Central People"s Government. She was elected as the Vice Chairperson of the Standing Committee of the National People"s Congress in 1954 and 1975 and Vice President of the People"s Republic of China in 1959 and 1965. For thirty-two years, Soong Ching Ling took part in many activities, both national and international, as one of the major state leaders in socialist revolution and construction.

When all the clan members are brought together in a single study, it is possible
to see how they helped and hindered each other in the path to power, and to see in sharp relief their regime's long involvement with and dependence upon the Shanghai gangster underworld.'' (Sterling Seagrave)

Soong Ching Ling had always been concerned with women’s work in the New China, cared passionately for the lives of the youth and children. She was in charge of People Relief Administration of China and Red Cross Society of China for a long time.

She ardently hoped that the country, which had realized Dr. Sun Yat-sen"s Three People's Principles and had become a socialist society, would become more prosperous. She was elected as a member of the World Peace Council in 1950 and President of the Liaison Committee of the Peace Conference of the Asian and Pacific Regions in 1952.

Zhou Enlai, great statesman, and first premier and foreign minister of new China, wanted to publish a magazine that would tell the world about the real situation in China, and break through the stranglehold of Western hegemony. He thought of Soong Ching Ling. So in the early 1950s, she founded the monthly magazine, China Reconstructs, now known as China Today, with the help of Israel Epstein (a well-known journalist from the United States, who was the executive editor, and his wife, Elsie Fairfax-Cholmeley, was engaged as main advisor for China Reconstructs. Li Boti, who had returned to China from the United States and had worked as a reporter for the Tianjin branch of the Xinhua News Agency, became the magazine editor. It was through the help and efforts of these people that China Reconstructs embarked on its international communications) and written in six languages (Chinese, English, French, German, Arabic and Spanish).

Brief Timeline of the Life of Soong Ching-Ling
Marries Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the founder of the first Chinese Republic. Together they struggle to bring social and economic order the chaos of post-Imperial China
Elected head of the Women's Department of the Kuomintang

Dr. Sun Yat-sen dies. Soong Ching-ling devotes the rest of her life to upholding her husband's ideals by becoming the most passionate and prominent opponent of Chiant Kai-shek

Founded the China League for Civil Rights
Founded the China Defense League
Offered the leadership position of the Kuomintang, which she turns down. She becomes the Vice-President of the Central People's Government Council as well as the Honoray President of the All-China Women's Federation
Creates the China Welfare Institute
Founded the China Reconstructs magazine
Travled to Moscow with Chairman Mao for the Conference of World Communist Parties
Named Honoary President of the People's Republic of China
Dies of Leukemia

The goal of the magazine was was "to reach the progressive personages and liberals in capitalist and colonialist countries, and those who sympathize or may sympathize with China, especially professionals, scientists and artists who sincerely pursue world peace, but who are not advanced politically." The contents of the magazine would "concentrate on reporting China's social, economic, cultural, educational, relief and welfare developments, so that the broad strata abroad might know how China's reconstruction is progressing, and about the efforts made by the people towards this end." Soong Ching Ling entrusted the work of establishing China Reconstructs to Jin Zhonghua and Chen Hansheng. Jin Zhonghua was a famous social activist, an expert in international communications, vice mayor of Shanghai, and a long-time friend of Soong Ching Ling. Chen Hansheng had studied in the USA and Germany, and had obtained a master's degree from Chicago University, and a Ph.D from Berlin University. He excelled in English, German and Russian, and had formerly worked as editor for the Far East Bulletin in Hong Kong. Soong Ching Ling believed his versatility and experience eminently qualified him for this job. Gu Shuxing, wife of Chen Hansheng and herself a famous photographer, also participated in the work of China Reconstructs, serving as "chairperson of the multi-color committee."

Soong Sisters & Brother
Soong Ling Ching in 1912

The legendary birth of China Reconstructs enabled it to undergo necessary development in later years, and its contribution to China's international communication and diplomacy could never be overestimated. Current international communication in China encompasses over 1,000 newspapers and periodicals, all of which began with China Reconstructs; a single "experimental plot."

In 1951, she was awarded the Stalin Peace Prize (Lenin Peace Prize after destalinization) and in 1953, a collection of her writings, Struggle for New China, was published. Soong has been recognized internationally as one of the greatest women in the 20th century.

Soong Ching Ling dedicated herself entirely, in a time of seventy years, to China"s democracy and socialist cause and to world peace and development. She had been unwavering in her political principles in all circumstances, unyielding to threats and absolutely incorruptible by wealth. Soong Ching Ling died on June 3, 1981

Soong Ai-ling
She was born in June 14, 1890 in Shanghai and the eldest of the Soong sisters. At the age of fourteen, she (also known as Eling Soong or by her Christian name of Nancy) left China (under a Portuguese passport under the protection of William and Addie Burke) to attend Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia – a relatively rare experience, even for women in the United States and becoming the first Chinese woman to be educated in the United States. Upon her arrival at the Port of San Francisco (California) – via the SS Korea, she was detained for nineteen days until the proper clearance was obtained that allowed her to continue her travel by train to Georgia.

Soong Ai-ling is best remembered for her shrewdness in financial matters and as a precocious student who was serious and determined while being clever with finances and business at her early age. Ai-ling received her A.B. in the Wesleyan class of 1909 and promptly returned to Shanghai, where she secured a post as secretary to Sun Yat-sen in 1911. When Ai-ling resigned her position with Sun in 1914 to marry future finance minister H. H. Kung (whom she met in 1913), Ching-ling took over Ai-ling's job. The eldest sister was married to the Finance Minister of China, H.H. Kung in 1914 in Yokohama – the richest man in the early 20th century in the Republic of China. During her marriage, she taught English and engaged in child welfare work. She lived in the United States during the 1940s and died in October 18, 1973 (at the age of 83) at New York Presbyterian Hospital. Her children include Kung Ling-i (daughter), Kung Ling-kai (son), Kung Ling-chun / Kung Ling-wei (daughter) and Kung Ling-chie (son).

Mei-ling’s Quick Quips
“In a day when lipstick and rouge were regarded as shameful, [May-ling] was once caught wearing Chinese flour makeup and lip rouge. ‘Why, Mei-ling,’ exclaimed an older student, ‘I believe your face is painted!’ ‘Yes,’ snapped May-ling, ‘China painted.’ ’’

...One of Mei-ling’s tutors asked her to recount a history lesson on Sherman’s march through Georgia. The teacher was quite unprepared for her response: “Pardon me, I am a Southerner and that subject is very painful to me. May I omit it?’”

Miss Jennie Loyall, it is said, told Madame Chiang that the college was keeping a Soong scrapbook. “Oh, you must scrap it soon,” she shot back (Wesleyan Alumnae Magazine, November 1965).

T.V. Soong (Tse-ven Soong or Soong Tzu-wen / (Sòng Ziwén; 1894–1971)
He was a Shanghai-born native who received his education at Harvard University, Ph.D from Columbia and returned to China to engage in private business. In the Kuomintang-controlled government, he served as governor of the Central Bank of China and Minister of Finance (1928 – 1931, 1932 – 1933), Minister of Foreign Affairs (1942 – 1945) and President of the Executive Yuan (1945 – 1947). Soong headed the Chinese delegation to the United Nations Conference on International Organization in San Francisco (April 1945) that later became the United Nations.

During WWII, he financed (while working closely with his sister May-ling Soong – his sister, Madame Chiang Kai-shek) the “Flying Tigers” – the American Voluntary Group that later was incorporated into the United States Air Force. General Claire Chennault was listed as an employee of the Bank of China. With the defeat of the Nationalists in the Chinese Civil War, he moved to New York and lived there until his death via stroke at the age of 77 in San Francisco in April 1971. He remained an influential member of the Chinese lobby and married to Lo-Yi Chang (Zhang Leyi). His Christian name was Paul and his brother-in-laws were Dr. Sun Yat-sen, Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek and H. H. Kung. T.V. married a Shanghai debutante named Lo-Yi Chang; as Prime Minister and the controller of nationalist China's purse strings he may have held the greatest degree of influence. T.L. and T.A. (his brothers were given initials because that was the rage in Shanghai during that time) were both financiers who married into Chinese American banker families.

T.V. Soong, one of the wealthiest men in China at that time, purchased 700 chests of Persian opium through Big-eared Tu in 1930 to supplement a temporary shortage in home product, using Kuomintang soldiers to off-load and guard it in Shanghai. Soong took a hefty commission.

She said in the article that "Only a revolution that has the support of the masses as and serves the masses can smash the power of warlords and politicians and shake off the shackle of imperialism and attain real socialism."
"Soong Ching-ling"


Film Trailer
“The Soong Sisters” – The Movie
On November 11, 1997 – the first U.S. showing of the Hong Kong-made movie occurred at Macon’s historic Douglas Theater. Director Mabel Cheung Yuen-ting and several other Hong Kong guests joined then President Nora Kizer Bell and nearly five hundred audience members (at two showings) for the gala event, which was scheduled as a part of the annual Wesleyan History Week. The film, which depicts the lives of Soong E-ling (Madame H. H. Kung), Soong Ching-ling (Madame Sun Yat-sen) and Soong May-ling (Madame Chiang Kai-shek). Cheung concentrated on their human side and love stories. The Soong Sisters took three years to research and three-and-a-half months to film on locations in China and Japan in one of the most expensive movies ever made in Hong Kong. The People's Liberation Army provided period tanks, vehicles and aircraft and over 2,000 extras for the battle scenes.

The film stars as the sisters Michelle Yeoh, Maggie Cheung and Vivian Wu. It was co-produced by Cheung’s partner Alex Law, who also wrote the screenplay. Costumes were designed by Academy Award-winning Emi Wada and the original score was composed by Kitaro and Randy Miller. The screenplay was based on Wesleyan’s own archives and Sterling Seagrave’s The Soong Dynasty, (Harper & Row, 1985).

The movie gives a panoramic view of modern Chinese history from 1900 to 1949 through the recreation of the lives of the legendary Soong sisters. Mable Cheung's journey shifts from personal voices and an omniscient voice to represent history from multi-perspectives. The marriage between Soong Ailing and Kong Xiangxi, a descendant of the Confucius family, is introduced through Soong Ailing's voice-over of the letter to her two younger sisters while they were students at Wesleyan Female College of the United States. Soong Qingling's marriage with Sun Yat-Sen is initiated by her voice-over of the letter to Soong Meiling, the youngest among the three sisters, which adds a subjective layer to the succeeding scenes. Soong Qingling's unusual romance with the father of modern Chinese revolutions seems to inspire Soong Meiling, who in the letter to Soong Qingling vows to marry a great hero. The events that led to the marriage between Soong Meiling and Chiang Kai-shek is described. The film struggles in providing a clear vision of whether it is a story of the three Soong sisters’ inner world or a picture of modern Chinese history.


Canada curbs Asian Indian immigrants by denying entry to immigrants who haven't come by "continuous journey" from their homelands (there is no direct shipping between Indian and Canadian ports). Japanese form Japanese Association of America in resonse to the anti-Japanese sentiment in the United States. Asian Indians are driven out of Live Oak, California.


As a result of 4 months of strikes by 7000 Japanese workers at major plantations on Oahu, the Hawaiian Sugar Planters' Association decides to raise wages and abolish system of setting wages by nationality. Koreans form Korean Nationalist Association.


In 1909,
Zhan Tianyu was the first Chinese to be elected to the American Society of Civil Engineers. Four years later he founded the Chinese Engineering Society which became a national organization, and he became its first president. Zhan was the first Chinese to receive an honorary degree from Hong Kong University. After his death in 1919, a bronze statue of him was erected at the Qinglung Railroad Station. The Chinese government built a railroad museum in Zhan's honor near the Great Wall at Badaling.


Artist Brenda Wong Aoki's great-uncle, Gunjiro Aoki, that makes her family part of California history. In 1909, the elder Aoki's marriage to Helen Gladys Emery, the Caucasian daughter of Grace Cathedral's archdeacon, rocked San Francisco and the state. It prompted the California Legislature and the city to pass anti- miscegenation laws.

The bride and groom fled to Seattle just ahead of mobs who had threatened to tar and feather them. Aoki's grandfather, the archdeacon's assistant who had brought his younger brother to San Francisco in the first place, was banished to Utah, where he took up sharecropping. Brenda Wong Aoki's family is made of Chinese, Japanese, Spanish and Scots descent. Her paternal grandfather, a Christian priest, helped found the city's Japantown.


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