_____________________19th Century


American Tea Trade



Some of the Louisiana Filipinos fight in the Battle of New Orleans.


1st Census to mention Chinese in America: Counted 3


British end of African slave trade spurs "Coolie" trade to replace slaves throughout the Carribean, Central and South America.

According to James L. Huesmann, "As British ships stopped the trade in African slaves, Latin American landowners and others with requirements for large, cheap labor forces turned to Asia for their needs. This form of indentured servitude was supposed to act as a transition phase, at least in the tropics between slavery and wage labor. The plight of the British West Indian sugar planters, where sugar production had dropped by one-third because of the loss of labor, carried more wieght in the arguments between moral beliefs and the pragmatic need for labor. In July 1844, British authorities opened up the emigration of Indians to British colonies."

Cuba and Peru are the main importers of Asian labor. A similar, but smaller, attempt to replace Black labor with Asian labor occurs in the US after the Civil War in states such as Mississippi.

James L. Huesmann, "The Chinese in Costa Rica, 1855-1897" in THE HISTORIAN, vol 53, No. 4, Summer 1991, pp. 711-712.


First Japanese arrive in the United States. American whalers rescued a Japanese man, Manjiro Nakahama, at sea. They called him "John Mung." After arriving to the US, he received an education in Massachusetts.


California Gold Rush begins with discover of gold near Sacramento. East Coast merchants establish San Francisco as trade stop en route to China. Return trips carry Chinese laborers to the United States. to work in agriculture, mines, fisheries, etc, in the boom economy of California.


Push & Pull: Motives for the Immigration of Chinese Women to America

Prostitution in the Early Chinese Community


Chinese Six Companies organized to protect the interests of Chinese in the United States.

People vs. Hall - California Supreme Court case. Chinese prohibited from testifying in Court against Whites. Also Asians are defined as Indians.


Early racial segregation - San Francisco public schools prohibit Chinese children from attending schools with White children.


American Civil War


Railroads - " A worried Charles Crocker, one of the railroad barons, decided to try out fifty Chinese - miners, laundry men, domestic servants, labourers and market gardeners. You wouldn't think, from their diminutive build, that they would be much good at it, but the Chinese proved such satisfactory workers - so 'quiet, peaceable, patient, industrious and economical', the President of the companywas to observe - that the Central Pacific had twelve to fourteenth thousand of them on its payroll before the project was finished."

Lynn Pan. Sons of the Yellow Emperor (Boston: Little, Brown & Company, 1990), p. 55 .


Transcontinental Railroad completed on May 10th. 90% of Union Pacific laborers were Chinese.


Anti-Chinese movement begins, seeking the end of Chinese immigration. Violence, race riots, and destruction of property are among the tactics directed against the Chinese scapegoats.

American popular culture reflects anti-Chinese sentiments:

That for ways that are dark,
And for tricks that are vain,
The heathen Chinese is peculiar--
Which the same I am free to maintain.

Bret Harte, "The Heathen Chinee" in Plain Language From Truthful James (1870)

Opponents of Chinese Exclusion came from many backgrounds:

For example, American Hebrew News and The Jewish Messenger opposed the measure in 1882

Frederick Douglass also spoke out vigorously against the anti-Chinese campaign:

"I want a home here not only for the negro, the mulatto and the Latin races; but I want the Asiatic to find a home here in the United States, and feel at home here, both for his sake and for ours."

Frederick Douglass, Composite Nation Speech in Philip S. Foner and Daniel Rosenberg, Racism, Dissent, and Asian Americans from 1850 to the Present: A Documentary History, (Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 1993), p. 217.

Cartoon by Thomas Nast. As the Jim Crow system emerged, African Americans sought better opportunities in the West. Simultaneously, Chinese escaping from the Anti-Chinese violence in the West migrated to the East, establishing Chinatowns in Chicago and New York among others.


US and Hawaii sign "Reciprocity Treaty" to allow Hawaiian sugar to enter the US without tariffs or duties.


Chinese Exclusion passed by Congress. Ends legal immigration of Chinese laborers, denies Chinese the ability to become American citizens, and prohibits Chinese Women from entering the country.

1st US/Korea treaty signed.


West Coast businesses turn to Japanese labor to replace Chinese labor.


After an unsuccessful coup attempt, a small group of Koreans settle in San Francisco establishing the first Korean community.

Rock Springs Massacre - Anti-Chinese riot in Rock Springs, Wyoming. 28 Chinese killed, others run out of town.

Anti- Chinese Riots in Washington State


Jacob Riis describes New York's Chinatown largely in negative terms but does correct what he believes is a myth about Chinese opium dens.

" It is a mistake to assume that Chinatown is honeycombed with opium 'joints.' There are a good many more outside of it than in it. The celestials do not monopolize the pipe."

Riis also felt Chinese did not get addicted to opium but whites did.

Jacob Riis. How the Other Half Lives: Studies Among the Tenements of New York (New York: Dover Publications, original 1890), p. 78 .


Plessy v. Fergusen - Supreme Court decides racial segregation is legal and consistent with Constitutional principles. "Separate but equal" established as the basis for legal discrimination.

Yick Wo v. Hopkins - Supreme Court rules that racially neutral laws that targeted Chinese in San Francisco is unconstitutional by violating the 14th Amendment. The court stated that laws that appeared racially neutral but was administered "with an evil eye and an unjust hand" would be unconstitutional.


US annexes Hawaii after an American Businessmen finance a coup and remove the last Hawaiian monarch from her throne. Pictured below: the Hawaiian Rifles, a militia group organized and sponsored by American businessmen in Hawaii.

Spanish American War - US takes the Philippines, Guam, and Puerto Rico from Spain. Cuba is also occupied. Cartoon depicts the American policy of "Benevolent Assimilation" toward the Filipinos.




The White Man's Burden by Rudyard Kipling celebrate's American Imperialism