Thursday, September 2, 2010
Chinese on the Western Frontier
I. The Push Factors of Chinese Immigration
B. Rural poverty--Chinese peasants, after several years of bad harvests, became increasingly desperate to find a way to change their condition of life. By the late 1850s, peasants that left to country after news of the California Gold Rush began returning to the countryside with the means to accomplish this, and this encouraged other peasants to pursue this path.
C. Entrepeneurial labor agencies--Chinese merchants quickly realized that there was money to be made providing passage and lining up employment for Chinese peasants willing to sign away most of their earning of their early years abroad in return for passage out of China.
II. Chinese "Otherness"
C. Chinese Labor Contracts
2. Foreign enforcement--Chinese companies were able to convince foreign courts--particularly in the United States--that, no matter how odious the conditions of the labor contract, it was binding on the worker and should be enforced.
III. Exclusion of the Chinese
A. The Workingman's Party--became the political vehicle for white workers in California to begin agitating for halting Chinese immigration
2. Stopping Chinese immigration became a major political issue in California, particularly in San Francisco, where one out of every four workers was Chinese--even though they only made up about twelve percent of the population of the city.
Posted by Gregory M. Miller at 8:42 PM