Upon hearing the word of gold in California, thousands of Chinese, mostly young male peasants, left their villages in the rural countries to become rich in the American West. Few actually were able to strike it rich, and laws were put on immigrants who tried to strike it rich. The law was a high tax, $10, on miners who were immigrants to discourage them from venturing into the mines. When their pursuit at wealth through the gold mines failed, they then decided to become laborers. They were recruited to extract metals and minerals, construct a vast railroad network, reclaim swamplands, build irrigation systems, work as migrant agricultural laborers, develop the fishing industry, and operate highly-competitive manufacturing industries. During this time, 1890, the Chinese population in the United States was about 110,000. During this great flood of immigrants into the United States, anti-immigrant attitudes and stereotypes began to form (A Brief History).
Most immigrants entering the country came through New York, and passed through Ellis Island, the famous immigrant station located in New York harbor. It was necessary to build a new station on the west coast. The new station was to be located 1 mile east of Ayala Cove, in California. This place was called Angel Island, or the â€œGuardian of the Western Gate.â€? This set of buildings was primarily set up to control the number of Chinese that entered the United States. It was primarily a detention center, because Chinese were not allowed into the United States, due to the Exclusion Act of 1882 (Immigration Station 1)
Figure 1. Shows why it was easier to go to California, rather than to take a longer trip. If going to New York, they might even have to sail around the edge of South America (Gillaspie 1).
The Chinese Exclusion Act
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... easy task. This task involved persistence, patience, and perseverance. Most importantly, the Chinese contributed themselves and their heritage to this ethically diverse collection of cultures known as United States of America (A Brief History of Chinese Immigration to America 3).
Archives of the West from 1877-1887: Documents on Anti-Chinese Immigration Policy. New Perspectives on the West. 1 December 2014.
A Brief History of Chinese Immigration to America.â€? American Heritage Project.
2000. 5 December 2014.
Anderson, Dorothy et al. American Immigration; Abolitionist Newspapers-Chinese.U.S. Grolier Educational, 1999. 27-39, 86-92.
Immigration Station. Angel Island. 1998. 23 November 2014.
Luu, Amy. The Chinese American Experience. Chinese American Museum. 1999. 5 December 2014.
Norton, Henry. The Chinese. Museum of the City of San Francisco. 2002. 5 December 2014.
Swerdlow, Joel L. â€œNew Yorkerâ€™s Chinatown.â€? National Geographic. August 1998. 59-77. 18 November 2014.
Twain, Mark Mark Twains Observation about Chinese Immigration in California. Rise of Industrial America, 1876-1900 2003. 18 November 2014.
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