Tuesday, August 27, 2019

What Were They Thinking? Look near the bottom

Relative to Chinese Americans in California.

[ Filed with Secretary of State  July 17, 2009. ]


ACR 42, Fong. Chinese Americans in California.
This measure would acknowledge the history of the Chinese in California, recognize the contributions made to the State of California by Chinese Americans and Chinese immigrants, and express regret for past discriminatory laws and constitutional provisions which resulted in the persecution of Chinese living in California.
Fiscal Committee: no  


WHEREAS, The California gold rush triggered one of the largest mass migrations in world history and captured global imagination as the destination for wealth and opportunity. That global migration made California one of the world’s most diverse states which would serve as the foundation for its economic, academic, and cultural growth in the 20th century; and
WHEREAS, The California gold rush paved the way in funding and manpower for the creation and building of the western leg of the transcontinental railroad. The transcontinental railroad was considered the greatest American technological feat of the 19th century, was a dream of Abraham Lincoln’s, and was what many considered the most important aspect in strengthening the position of the United States in the international spotlight. The track served as a vital link for trade, commerce, and travel by joining east and west, further transforming the population and economy of California; and
WHEREAS, The Central Pacific portion of the transcontinental railroad recruited the Chinese in America and later tens of thousands of Chinese immigrants as a source of labor. Chinese in America and Chinese immigrants were paid less than their white counterparts and slept in tents while white laborers were provided both food and shelter. The Chinese laborers worked under grueling and treacherous conditions in order to lay thousands of miles of track. On May 10, 1868, alone, Chinese workers laid 10 miles of track in less than 12 hours in order to complete the last leg of the railroad. Without the tremendous efforts and contributions of the Chinese in building the transcontinental railroad, the development and progress of our nation and California would have been delayed by years; and
WHEREAS, Once the transcontinental railroad was complete, Chinese in California transitioned to other types of employment, making considerable contributions to the progress and growth of our state. Chinese in California built ships for fishing along our coast and developed the abalone and shrimp industries. In the Delta and the central valley, the Chinese in California helped to recover the tule swamps, to build irrigation systems, and to harvest various fruits and vegetables for California’s agriculture industry; and
WHEREAS, The Legislature enacted discriminatory laws targeting Chinese in America and Chinese immigrants in order to discourage further immigration from China and sought to severely limit the success of the Chinese laborers already here; and

WHEREAS, Among other things, these laws denied the Chinese in California the right to own land or property, the right to vote, and the right to marry a white person, denied children of Chinese descent access to public schools, denied Chinese immigrants the right to bear arms, unfairly targeted women of Chinese descent by imposing special requirements in order for them to be allowed to immigrate into the state, authorized the removal of Chinese immigrants to outside town and city limits, denied Chinese laborers employment in public works projects and through state agencies, prohibited the issuance of licenses to Chinese in California, denied Chinese in California the right to fish in California’s waters, and unduly taxed Chinese businesses and individuals who employed Chinese laborers; and

1 comment:

  1. And as awful as it was for the Chinese in America, it was worse for the Chinese in South America. When a young Chinese man signed on with the broker who came to his village in China looking for workers, he wouldn't know where he would be sent. As it turns out the lucky ones worked in the Sierra in Winter, with black powder and nitro, hanging off of sheer cliffs by ropes that would make the bird's nest soup harvesters refuse. The unlucky ones worked in terrible heat on the guano islands owned by Peru and Chile, breathing the dust and dodging the poisonous spiders and scorpions. Many of them never lived long enough to return to China or go elsewhere when their contracts were done.