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[TIMELINE] 1871: Indispensable Chinese, Than Prejudice

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  • madchinaman
    1871 The Indispensable Chinese, and Then a Riot of Prejudice http://www.latimes.com/features/magazine/west/la-tm-
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 24, 2006
      The Indispensable Chinese, and Then a Riot of Prejudice

      This week in 1871 (October 23-30), white Angelenos stormed L.A.'s
      Calle de los Negros after a gunfight between two Chinese men claimed
      the life of an Anglo bystander. The white mobs killed 19 Chinese,
      lynching some, and looted Chinese-occupied buildings. The state was
      infected with anti-Chinese xenophobia from the early days of the
      Gold Rush, and a raft of laws and legal rulings aimed to keep them
      at bay; San Francisco went so far as to ban the poles Chinese men
      used to carry bundles. In a 1924 essay, "The Chinese," educator and
      journalist Henry Kittredge Norton laid out the contributions Chinese
      émigrés had made to California and explored the roots of the often
      virulent movement against Chinese immigration, which lasted into the
      20th century.


      Here were men who would do the drudgery of life at a reasonable wage
      when every other man had but one idea—to work at the mines for gold.
      Here were cooks, laundrymen, and servants ready and willing. Just
      what early California civilization most wanted these men could and
      would supply.

      The result was that the Chinaman was welcomed; he was considered
      quite indispensable. He was in demand as a laborer, as a carpenter,
      as a cook; the restaurants which he established were well
      patronized; his agricultural endeavors in draining and tilling the
      rich tule lands were praised. . . .

      The Chinaman was welcomed as long as the surface gold was
      plentiful . . . But that happy situation was not long to
      continue. . . .

      Various schemes were proposed for ridding the country of the Chinese
      as if they were a pest. It was seriously suggested that they be all
      returned to China, but as this would have involved an expense of
      about seven millions of dollars and ten or a dozen ships for every
      vessel that was available, it was reluctantly laid aside. . . .

      Calmly handled, the Chinese question never would have caused a
      disturbance in California. In connection with a violent race hatred,
      it kept the state in turmoil for the first thirty years of its


      Source: "The Story of California From the Earliest Days to the
      Present," by Henry K. Norton, A.C. McClurg & Co., 1924. Research
      from www.learncalifornia.org.
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