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This Is White Man's Country or Life Under Exclusion

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This is white man's country or life under Exclusion

Today many scholars agree that Chinese had very important impact on U.S. economic development, as they took active part in building of American infrastructures, as well as brought important investments and human capital into the country . Unfortunately U.S. immigration policies against Chinese threw them back in their social development in return. I want to concentrate on Chinese immigration for a fact that they were very important group in U.S. development, also they were first Asian settlers in U.S. and in my opinion they were the nation that experienced the most discrimination from the American government.

At that times as well as nowadays Chinese were known to be a hard working nation. They were engaged in mining, fishing canaries, they helped in building thousands of miles of U.S. roads and railroads, they were known to work well on the land so they helped developing vineries and fruit gardens of California, they also had capabilities of running businesses. But the factor that was of utmost importance was trade with China, as Chinese merchants brought not only new products, such as silk, but also a great deal of investment to the United States. "The China trade proved an important source of men and capital for America's western development ". Nevertheless America wasn't ready to include new minority in its society, so they decided to take an unwelcoming attitude by adopting its immigration policies that lead to stagnation in Chinese development and even to loss of identities of Chinese people for many years to come.

There were multiple reasons for Chinese immigration. Some think that their departure from China was "panic-stricken, hunger-driven flight from poverty and other socioeconomic difficulties". Others argue that it was "the pursuit of happiness, assumption of family responsibility, to freedom from the regime as well as a step toward greater individual independence ". As for the United States, first they saw the possibility of cheap labor in the coming Chinese, as they were very inexpensive and highly productive and with the end of slavery there were not many white people who wanted to engage in dirty hard labor. Meanwhile the majority of Chinese immigrants were in their early twenties or younger and were ready to do any kind of job: mining, working on the land or the sea and building railroads.

First Chinese came to U.S. with the spread of news about California gold in 1848. This time is better known as the Gold Rush in California. Very soon they became a major labor force a leading minority group in California and the major competitive group in gold mines. White population did not like the new settlers; they blamed Chinese in all their financial misfortunes. The government of California was under pressure of the constant petitions from the white majority, so it sought to protect their rights by the first discriminatory law against Chinese that was passed in 1850. It was foreign miners' tax that required all foreign-born miners to pay $20 per month to obtain a license to mine for gold. In 1852 foreign miners tax was adjusted to $3 per month . With this law many Chinese were pushed out from mining, Chinese started to explore other areas of labor, especially those who were in San Francisco. Many of them opened their business, like laundromats or decorative stores. In 1853 the American government then took another attempt to either limit or eliminate Chinese immigration through enactment of the commutation tax, which required inbound ships to post a $500 for each foreign passenger. In 1855 the rate for a passenger who "wasn't eligible for citizenship" was lowered to $50 per person . In the meantime people unhappiness about "the Chinese problem" grew and violence against them started to emerge. Public policy makers moved against them, especially in San Francisco, where municipal regulations were becoming more and more offensive: "the City punished the Chinese with a host of discriminatory taxes and rules, including taxes on laundries, a tax on bones exhumed for burial in China, rules against overcrowded living quarters and even prohibiting them from carrying anything attached to a pole. In April 1876, the Board of Supervisors passed a law that allowed for the sheriff to cut off the queues of Chinese even in the county jails ".

By 1870's movement against "Yellow Peril" took place in the West, Chinese owned businesses were vandalized and burned . Chinese were characterized as "Oriental invasion," a "vast horde," "unnumbered millions," "coolie slaves," "a menace," and "a threat to the inestimable benefits of our Christian civilization ".

Meanwhile the demand for cheap labor was still high and the number of Chinese immigrants kept increasing. According to U.S. Census, in 1852, there were between 12,000 and 25,000 Chinese in California, by 1880 the number exceeded 105,000 with total population of California 865,000 . "The Chinese question" became the most important issue not only on the state level but on the federal level as well, "the Congress received hundreds of petitions urging them to do something about "the Chinese problem" .

In 1882 Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act barring the entry into the United States of all Chinese laborers for a period of 10 years and preventing the naturalization of those Chinese immigrants already in the United States. Merchants, teachers, government officials, students and some other categories of upper-class individuals were exempt from the exclusion. The exclusion was extended in 1892 and was not repealed for more than 50 years . Such a restrictive measure prevented most Chinese from starting families and putting down the roots in America .

After the passage of the Exclusion Act restricting the entry of Chinese into the U.S. American government started to look for the ways to get rid of those who were already in U.S., so in addition to all sorts of discrimination Chinese had to constantly work on their ways to stay in the country. Those laborers who were returning to America had to present a government issued certificate as a proof that they had been in U.S. before the Act was passed. In 1887 Congress passed the Scott Act "to further forbid Chinese laborers who had such certificates to reentry".

As the US labor market continued to grow and the economic situation in China did not show signs of stability, Chinese started to look for loopholes



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