Chinese Immigration to United States

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There were many reasons for the Chinese to come to America. Overcrowding, poverty, war, and other catastrophes in China were all reasons (push) for traveling to America, as well as effective external influences. The discovery of gold was a major pull for Chinese peasants in coming to the West Coast. America's labor needs were the most important external catalyst for immigration. However, there were very few ways of traveling to the United States. With loans from the Six Companies, Chinese were able to afford fare to America, and they traveled here to work primarily as gold miners, fishermen, or agricultural workers; later settling into laundry services and restaurant work (Tsai, China overseas 12-13).

In order to cultivate and develop the vast amount of Western land and resources they had obtained, develop industry, and build a rail system for transportation and communication, and to create a network of communication with China, Americans were searching for labor, people to carry out these tasks. The hard-working nature of Chinese made them natural targets for such laborious tasks, and this helped create a pull for the Chinese willing to travel to America for work (Tsai, China overseas 12).

An entrepreneur by the name of Elmer C. Sandmeyer saw transportation companies as a powerful promotional influence. The transportation of Chinese laborers between Hong Kong and San Francisco accompanied by high passenger rates allowed American ship owners to make a nice profit (Tsai, China overseas 12-13). The Six Companies played a large part in this process, as a benevolent organization that was devoted to helping immigrants, the sick and poor, and conveying the bodies of dead persons back to china. Immigrants who were too poor to pay t...

... middle of paper ... the year 1852 alone, thirty thousand Chinese who embarked at Hong Kong for San Francisco paid $1,300,000 for the voyage. At the beginning of 1856, William Speer calculated that all Chinese in California had paid a total of $2,329,580 for the trip" (Tsai, China overseas 13).

Frequently exploited by American capitalists, Chinese laborers were whipped to dig in gold mines, build railroads, and plant crops. Industry boomed in Western America as the Chinese toiled ceaselessly. Free immigration was suggested by the United States in the 1868 Burlingame Treaty because of the need for labor in America and the potential benefits of trading with the Chinese. Labor was cheap, and many forms of fraud and propaganda were employed to bring Chinese laborers to the United States. The discovery of gold was also very beneficial in enticing the Chinese (Tsai, China overseas 13).

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