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Reply #18: And the Chinese Exclusion Act [View All]

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Nikki Stone1 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-27-10 12:23 AM
Response to Reply #6
18. And the Chinese Exclusion Act
When white workers building the Central Pacific Railroad began threatened to strike for higher wages in 1865, the Railroad first brought in Chinese workers, whom they treated pretty much like slaves. The Chinese proved to be cheap, fast and innovative and CPR began widescale recruitment of Chinese workers. When white workers refused to work alongside the poorly paid Chinese workers, the railroad hired only Chinese. By the end of the project, 15,000 of 17,000 railroad workers were Chinese.

The Chinese were coerced into accepting conditions worse than those given white workers and prevented from seeking recourse. Whites got $35 a month plus free board and lodging; Chinese got $26-35 without food and houses. Chinese workers did strike in 1866 for better conditions (equivalent to what the white workers were receiving). Apparently Chinese workers were whipped and stopped from looking for other work. To break the striked, the railroad company tried to get 10,000 African Americans to replace the Chinese. The attempt failed. Central Pacific RR stopped provisions to Chinese workers, starved them out. Stopped the strike.

When the railroad work ended, the Chinese were left abandoned in a racist California, without citizenship status and without wives. Leland Stanford, the head of Central Pacific Railroad, didn't care about the condition of these workers, just using them and leaving them to the whims of the California whites. (That's Stanford University to you and me.)

In the end, the US government passed the Chinese Exclusion Act.

"By 1860 the Chinese were the largest immigrant group in California. The Chinese workers provided cheap labor and did not use any of the government infrastructure (schools, hospitals, etc.) because the Chinese migrant population was predominantly made up of male adults. <3> As time passed and more and more Chinese migrants arrived in California violence would often break out in cities such as Los Angeles. By 1878 the congress decided to act and passed legislation excluding the Chinese, but this was vetoed by President Hayes. California, in its zeal for excluding the Chinese, declared a holiday on March 6th, 1881 in order to hold widespread demonstrations to support the anti-Chinese legislation. Once the Chinese Exclusion Act was finally passed in 1882, California went further in its discrimination against the Chinese by passing various laws that were later proved unconstitutional.<4> After the act was passed most Chinese families were faced with a dilemma: stay in the United States alone or go back to China to reunite with their families.<5> Newspapers around the country and especially in California started to discredit and blame the Chinese for most things, i.e. white unemployment. The police also discriminated against the Chinese by using the slightest opportunity to arrest them. Although there was widespread dislike for the Chinese, some capitalists and entrepreneurs resisted their exclusion based on economic factors. <6>"
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