North America West Coast is known to be the Chinese, especially those working as sailors before the Gold Rush. The history of Chinese began in 1850 when the Gold Rush provided the starting point with which to build a more substantial narrative. A large proportion of Chinese immigrant entered California through the port of San Francisco. From San Francisco and other parts and many sought their fortune in other regions of California. The Chinese established part of the different gathering of people from throughout the world and contributed to population and economic development that characterized the early history of California. Chinese immigrated to the US as a large exodus from Southeast China in search for better economic opportunities and were fleeing a situation of political corruption and decline. A large number came from the Pearl River Delta in Guangdong province.
Chinese immigrant prove to be productive and resourceful contributors to the development of businesses and industries. The initial group of Chinese Argonauts wanted to live in the gold mines that was referred as Gold Mountain. The Chinese developed and built flumes and roads allowing them to access easily and process mineral being extracted. Chinese immigrants encountered discrimination on arrival to San Francisco and were forced to work older claims or work for others. By the end of 1850s, the constitution of the US reserved rights for naturalization for white immigrant throughout the country. As a result, Chinese immigrants lived at the urge of the local government in California where some were allowed to become naturalized citizens and without the right, it was difficult to pursue livelihoods. For instance, they were unable to own land in California or file mining claims. The discrimination was apparent despite the effort of Chinese to contribute crucial labor necessary to mine enterprise. Discriminatory legislation forced many Chines out of the gold fields and forced them to work in low-paying, arduous and menial jobs. They took on the riskiest and least desirable component of work available. They worked on reclaiming marshes in the Central Valley so that the land could become agriculturally productive (Wong 158).
There are several Acts of the Constitution that were to protect Chinese from discrimination and promote their welfare in California and the US. In 1871 Anti-Chinese violence. With the achievement of the railroad and expiration of the gold strike, Chinese immigrants were objectives of a decade-long wave of vehemence and discrimination in cities in the West such as San Francisco. The Chinese Exclusion Act was established to ride the anti-Chinese fervor and of the fear that arose that Chinese will become overpopulated by Chinese. The act implementation was a turning point for America because the constitution welcomed the immigrant but was closing to Chinese laborers. Offenders of the Chinese Exclusion Act were either deported or faced with implementation while American citizenship was denied to Chinese immigrants who were present in the US. The act froze Chinese community in California and prevented them from expanding and assimilating into US community. The law forced Chinese to form an organization to keep their businesses running (Takaki 54).
There are events that promoted the welfare of Chinese in San Francisco. For instance, San Francisco earthquake in 1906 and the citywide fire destroyed immigration records and gave Chinese an opportunity to bring their family members and friends from China to the US. Chinese living in the US claimed they were born in the US because there were no records available to prove their citizenship. The fire gave them an entitlement to bring their children to the US and led to the widespread of false paper sons. Secondly, between 1910 and 1940, chines immigrants were regularly detained and interrogated at Angel Island immigration station in San Francisco. For Chinese to be permitted the entry to the US, they have to cross the Pacific to San Francisco and pass through gantlet of Angel Island. Most of the Chinese immigrants were detained for even months in a purgatory of isolation and suspense. Some were deported back to China across the Pacific. In preparation for questions, Chinese immigrants relied on coaching paper that contained details on the background of the individuals who were legal American citizens. These papers were purchased as part of the package of tickets and information about the US. The Island was closed after a fire breakout that destroyed building (Hall-Lew and Starr 15).
As a result of the great quake and the catastrophic events of World, War II had aftermath effects of Chinese in America. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor became a vehicle of opportunity for the Chinese Americans. They became allies during the war against Japan and public sentiment in favor America’s Chinese allies surged. Chinese foreigners entered the normal of American society. Chinese Americans fought with American soldiers and brawled side by side with them under the American Flag. The increase of employment on the home front opened jobs previously closed to them. The most crucial declaration was in December 1934 halfway through the war after President Roosevelt signed the revoke of the Chinese Exclusion Act, which ended sixty years of legalized racism and discrimination. However, the Act did not guarantee instant acceptance by the dominant society. After the repeal of the Exclusion Act and the enactment of the War Bride Act, Assimilation and acculturation began to take place. The once society began to shift toward a new American Chinese community filled with families and children. The Chinese immigrant was legally allowed to become citizens and to own property.
Today’s Chinatown is a unique neighborhood defined by its people its institution and its history of rejection and acceptance. Chinese-style buildings and the narrow bustling street give Chinatown its character. Beyond the gilded storefronts, one will find tenements crowded with elderly people and new immigrants struggling with problems left by years of discrimination and exclusion including health problem, unemployment,and poor housing. Core Chinatown itself, restricted by its ability to grow, no longer serves as the major residential area from the Chinese of San Francisco. Most Chinese have moved out of the crowded town.
Chinatown in San Francisco has developed cultural autonomy that sustain many activities music groups, dance a children’s orchestra and Chinese Historical Society of America. A result of the community’s commitment to excellence in education and involvement in the legal debate over affirmative action and school desegregation for Asian-American youth. Chinese immigrant prove to be productive and resourceful contributors to the development of businesses and industries. The initial group of Chinese Argonauts wanted to live in the gold mines that was referred as Gold Mountain.Chinese immigrated to the US as a large exodus from Southeast China in search for better economic opportunities and were fleeing a situation of political corruption and decline.
Hall-Lew, Lauren, and Rebecca L. Starr. “Beyond the 2nd generation: English use among Chinese Americans in the San Francisco Bay area.” English Today 26.03 (2010): 12-19.
Takaki, Ronald. Strangers from a different shore: A history of Asian Americans (updated and revised). eBookIt. com, 2012.
Wong, Morrison G. “The Chinese American family.” The New Immigrant and the American Family: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on the New Immigration (2014): 158.