The Chinese in California, 1850-1925


1839 Start of the Opium War between China and Great Britain.
1842 Treaty of Nanking, first "Unequal Treaty" after China met defeat in Opium War. Opened ports of Canton, Foochow, Amoy, Ningpo, and Shanghai to trade. China ceded Hong Kong to the British.
1848 James Marshall discovered gold at John Sutter's sawmill on the American River at Coloma. This discovery triggered the California Gold Rush.
1850 Some 500 immigrants out of 57,787 arriving in California were Chinese.
  California state legislature passed the first Foreign Miners' Tax Law, levying a $20-per-month tax on each foreigner engaged in mining.
1851-1864 The T'aip'ing Rebellion. Insurgents seized control of the middle and lower Yangtze Basin. Millions of lives lost.
1852 Of the 11,794 Chinese living in California, only 7 were women.
  Chinese immigration increased to 20,000 this year with most individuals proceeding to mining regions. This number decreased to under 8,000 annually during the next two decades.
  Re-enactment of the Foreign Miners' Tax Law aimed at controlling the Chinese and other immigrant populations in California.
1854 People v. Hall. California Supreme Court ruled that a white man charged with murder could not be convicted on the testimony of a Chinese witness.
  Weaverville War of 1854 in California between the people of Sze Yup and Heung Shan. Also fighting at Chinese Camp between the Hakkas and Sam Yup People.
1860s The Six Chinese Companies called Tongs formed to represent and organize Chinese interests in San Francisco and California.
1862 Pacific Railroad Bill provided government aid to build transcontinental railroad.
1863 On January 3, the Central Pacific Railroad broke ground.
1865 Crocker hired first 50 Chinese men in response to white workers' threatening a strike; within two years, 90 percent of the work force on the Central Pacific Railroad was Chinese.
1867 June 25, railroad strike: the Chinese laborers, without support of other workers, won concession over wages.
  Workingmen's Party of California founded in San Francisco. Denis Kearney acted as its president.
  Four hundred men (associated with Workingmen's Party) attacked Chinese in San Francisco.
1868 The Burlingame Treaty recognized the right of free immigration on the part of citizens of the United States and China.
  Governor John Bigley delivered anti-Chinese speech; Lai Chun Chuen, Chinese merchants in San Francisco, issued pamphlet in response.
  Twelve thousand Chinese working in construction of the railroad. Union Pacific joined the Central Pacific at Promontory Point, Utah, on May 10.
1870 By this time, 3,536 Chinese women had emigrated to California, 61 percent (2,157) listed as prostitutes.
  Foreign Miners' Tax represented 25 to 50 percent of all state revenue. Chinese constituted the largest racial group in the mines, 9,087 out of 36,339.
1870s Diversification of crops developed after railroad was completed. Chinese aided in cultivation techniques as well as harvest of these crops.
  Record unemployment hit California.
  Chinese involved in commercial fishing along the West Coast. In 1888, there were more than 2,000 Chinese in thirty camps, mostly along the San Francisco Bay and in the Monterey and San Diego areas.
1871 Fifteen Chinese hanged in anti-Chinese riots in Los Angeles.
1872 Central Pacific Railroad started the Occidental and Oriental shipping lines to enter Asiatic trade and competed with the Pacific Mail Company, finally purchasing the latter in 1880.
1876 State printing office issued the publication "Chinese Immigration."
  Southern Pacific Railroad constructed railroad to Los Angeles, using many Chinese as construction workers.
1878 Workingmen's Party Resolution connected cheap Chinese labor with corporations.
1882 The Chinese Exclusion Act prohibited Chinese laborers from entering the United States.
1892 The Chinese Exclusion Law of 1882 renewed in 1892 through the Geary Act. It is renewed again in 1902, and extended indefinitely, until it was repealed in 1943.
1900 Boxer Rebellion.
  Japanese began to replace Chinese as agricultural workers.
1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire; destruction of municipal records led to phenomenon of "Paper Sons." Concern over relocating Chinatown after the earthquake.
  Use of Angel Island as immigration station began.
1911 Wuchang Uprising, overthrow of the Manchu dynasty, and the establishment of the Republic of China. The culmination of the effort led by Sun Yat-sen, beginning in the 1880s, to overthrow the Manchus.
1914-1918 Some Chinese Americans served in the U.S. Armed Forces in World War I and became heroes.
1924 The Immigration Exclusion Act was passed, continuing discrimination against Asian immigrants.
1930s Restrictions against Chinese immigrants began to ease. In 1930, Congress passed an act providing for admission of Chinese wives who were married to American citizens before May 26, 1924.
1935 Public Law 162 granted several hundred Asian veterans who served in the United States Armed Forces during World War I the right to apply for United States citizenship through naturalization.
1943 The Magnuson Act resulted in the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act.

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