Essay on Anti-Chinese Sentiment in 19th Century American Society

Essay on Anti-Chinese Sentiment in 19th Century American Society

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One of the most appalling practices in history, lynching - the extrajudicial hanging of a person accused of a crime - was commonplace in American society less than 100 years ago. The word often conjures up horrifying images of African Americans hanged from lampposts or trees. However, what many do not know is that while African Americans certainly suffered enormously at the hands of a white majority, they were not the only victims of this practice. In fact, the victims of the largest mass lynching in American history were Chinese (Johnson). On October 24th, 1871, a white mob stormed into the Chinatown of Los Angeles. Burning and looting buildings with Chinese owners, they shot at, tortured, and hung every Chinese person they came across. All in all, at least 17 Chinese were killed. This event was only one of many during the time; indeed, the Rock Springs Massacre was even deadlier (“Whites Massacre Chinese in Wyoming Territory”). But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Lynchings were far from the only injustices perpetrated against the Chinese during the 1800s. They could be beaten up, robbed, forced out of town, or put out of business. In fact, even anti-Chinese legislation was common. Laws targeting Chinese immigration or culture were simply too many to count. The violent and discriminatory treatment of Chinese immigrants in 19th century America makes manifest a lack of social progress in an era often celebrated for expansion and physical growth.

The first Chinese immigrants to arrive in America came in the early 1800s. Chinese sailors visited New York City in the 1830s (“The Chinese Experience”); others came as servants to Europeans (“Chinese Americans”). However, these immigrants were few in number, and usually didn’t even st...


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....d. Web. 21 Feb. 2014. .
"Transcript of Chinese Exclusion Act (1882)." Our Documents. The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2014. .
"United States v. Wong Kim Ark." LII / Legal Information Institute. Cornell University Law School, n.d. Web. 13 Feb. 2014. .
"Whites Massacre Chinese in Wyoming Territory." The History Channel Website. A&E Television Networks, 2014. Web. 13 Feb. 2014. .
Yang, Joshua S. "The Anti-Chinese Cubic Air Ordinance." NCBI. U.S. National Library of Medicine, Mar. 2009. Web. 26 Feb. 2014. .

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