Chinese Immigration to California: Welcomed Workers, Shunned Immigrants
Keywords:Chinese Exclusion Act, Immigration, American West
This paper explores the complex relationship linking the collapse of the mining and railroad industries, anti-Chinese sentiment, and the passage Chinese Exclusion Act. Although difficult to tease out, the paper also explores how these immigration issues, prompted primarily by domestic concerns, were intertwined with the diplomatic relationship between the United States and China, as it evolved over the period of 1858 through 1880. this paper looks at historical newspapers written in the early Californian state in the 1850s to the 1860s to understand how changing attitudes towards Chinese immigrants affected local anti-Chinese laws and how these local attitudes shaped national laws. This paper will show that while Chinese workers were welcomed early on for providing cheap labor, overtime they would be increasingly prejudiced against and blamed for growing labor disputes between white workers and corporations. Ultimately Chinese immigration would be scapegoated as the reason for declining wages by white workers in order to pass anti-Chinese laws. The United States moved towards exclusion as a domestic policy, an apparent contradiction of its diplomatic policy of forging closer ties in an attempt to take advantage of Chinese trade.