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Chinese American History Workshop: Contributions, Racialization, Legislation & Violence (1870s -1940s) Dr. Michael Chang Asian Pacific American Leadership.

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Presentation on theme: "Chinese American History Workshop: Contributions, Racialization, Legislation & Violence (1870s -1940s) Dr. Michael Chang Asian Pacific American Leadership."— Presentation transcript:

1 Chinese American History Workshop: Contributions, Racialization, Legislation & Violence (1870s -1940s) Dr. Michael Chang Asian Pacific American Leadership Institute

1850s-1890s Building the West 1870s-1940s Anti-Asian Exclusion Period 1940s-1960s Post-WWII to Asian American Movement 1970s-present Silicon Valley Era

3 1850s-1890s Building the West 1848 California and southwest states were ceded by Mexico to the U.S. after the Mexican-American War. After gold was discovered in1848, California’s population grew dramatically from14,000 who were mostly Mexican. Chinese immigrants arrived in large numbers.

4 Asian American Economic Contributions
1850s-1880s Chinese immigrants were employed as the main source of labor for building California and the western states’ public works infrastructure and industries such as mining, agriculture, fishing, railroad-building, and manufacturing, etc. By the1870s, Chinese immigrants were10% of California’s population and one out of four in the labor force. Throughout the first half of the 20th century, Asian immigrants including Japanese, Filipino, Korean, and South Asian provided labor for the development of the West.

5 Chinese Economic Contributions (1850s-1890s)
MINING: 24,000 Chinese miners in 1860’s. RAILROADS: 13,000 Chinese workers making up 90% of the western crew of the first transcontinental railroad completed in 1869. PUBLIC WORKS: Build roads, government buildings & infrastructure, reservoirs, dams, tunnels, bridges, etc. By 1877, reclaimed 5 million acres of land including Sacramento delta. AGRICULTURE: 30,000 Chinese immigrants made up 87% of California’s farm laborers in 1886. FISHING: Most fisherman were Chinese until 1870’s.

6 Chinese Immigrants in Early California Manufacturing
Early west coast manufacturing was centered in San Francisco. By 1872, half of San Francisco’s factory workers were Chinese immigrants. Chinese factory workers dominated all four major manufacturing industries of that era: manufacturing of clothing, woolen-wear, shoes, and cigars.

7 Chinese Population in Santa Clara County: By 1880, 33% of Santa Clara County’s farm were Chinese. Chinese Population % of County Population % , % , % ,723 , % (Source: U.S. Census; Chan 1986: 49)

8 San Jose Chinatowns 1850s-1930s
First Chinatown established 1850s at current Fairmont Hotel site but destroyed by arson in 1870. Second Chinatown rebuilt in 1870 at original site. Again burnt in 1877. “Heinlenville” Chinatown ( ) at 6th street and Jackson in today’s Japantown. Taylor Street “Woolen Mill” Chinatown ( ) east of Guadalupe River. Source: Connie Young Yu & CHCP.

9 Anti-Chinese Public Policies

10 U.S. & California Anti-Asian Legislations
What was the 1790 U.S. Naturalization Law? What was the California Supreme Court’s 1854 Case of People v. Hall? What were the anti-Asian provisions of the 1879 California Constitution? What was the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act?

11 United States Naturalization Law of 1790 provided the first rules to be followed by the United States in the granting of national citizenship. This law limited naturalization to immigrants who were "free white persons" of "good moral character". It thus left out American Indians, indentured servants, slaves, free blacks, and later Asians.

12  1854 The People of the State of California v. George W. Hall
was an appealed murder case in which the California Supreme Court ruled that Chinese Americans and Chinese immigrants had no rights to testify against white citizens. The ruling effectively freed Hall, a white man, who had been convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Ling Sing, a Chinese miner in Nevada County. Three Chinese witnesses had testified to the killing. The ruling was an odd extension of California Criminal Procedure's existing (1850) exclusion, "No black or mulatto person, or Indian, shall be allowed to give evidence in favor of, or against a white man." It was held that either "Indian" denoted anyone of the Mongoloid race or that "black" applied to anyone not white. The ruling effectively made white violence against Chinese Americans unprosecutable, arguably leading to more intense white-on-Chinese race riots, such as the 1877 San Francisco riot.

13 1879 California Constitution (Anti-Asian Provisions)
Chinese immigrants: “Aliens ineligible for citizenship” “Dangerous to the well-being of the State” No companies were allowed to hire Chinese or “Mongolian” people Public works could not hire Chinese or “Mongolian” people Immigration discouraged to keep the Chinese population at low levels 1879 California Constitution (Anti-Asian Provisions)

14 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act First U.S. national legislation to exclude immigration by race, law was later extended to all Asians, not repealed until 1943. It shall not be lawful for any Chinese laborer to come [to] the United States. No state court or court of the United States shall admit Chinese to citizenship.


16 Anti-Asian Movement in Santa Clara County: 1860s-1940s
1869 Ku Klux Klan burnt Naglee Brandy Distillery and Methodist Episcopal Church in San Jose. 1870 San Jose Chinatown burnt down. 1876 San Jose city council declared Chinatown a public nuisance and passed ordinance against Chinese laundries. 1877 San Jose Chinatown burnt down again by arson. 1890s San Jose Mercury practiced anti-Asian “yellow journalism”. 1942 San Jose Japantown shut down as residents sent to concentration camps, many to Heart Mountain, Wyoming .

17 RACIALIZATION Racialization refers to processes of the discursive production of racial identities. It signifies the extension of dehumanizing and racial meanings to a previously racially unclassified relationship, social practice, or group. Racialization is “the portrayal of a large group of people as inferior.” Aoki 2008: 6

18 The Notion of “Yellow Peril:”
Racialization of Chinese Immigrants in 19th Century News Media










28 Racist Love: American Paternalism



31 Promotion of Anti-Chinese Violence






37 How do contemporary popular culture and policy debates reflect shadows of the past?

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