Chinese immigration

This essay has a total of 1777 words and 7 pages.

chinese immigration


Chinese Immigration


Every person who lives in America is either an immigrant or a descendant of an immigrant.
Though we may not consider it, it is a fact that everyone here has come from some other
place. The majority of immigrants have come to America voluntarily. Seeking a change they
envisioned America as country thriving with different opportunities. For the immigrants it
was a chance at a better life, not only for themselves, but for their children. It is
estimated that over sixty million people have immigrated to America and it is this
immigration that has built America into a "melting pot." America is a country thriving
with varies ethnic, cultural, religious, and economic identities. It is this "melting pot"
that makes America so unique and cherished by those who live here. On the other hand there
are unpleasant aspects of immigration, which include the hardships faced in order to reach
America and the struggle to gain acceptance. During 1850 to 1930, immigration was
increasing and was welcomed in order to supply the demands of the Industrial Age. Chinese
immigrants came to America in search of labor, thus proving to be hard, diligent laborers,
only to be discriminated against and treated unjustly.

The reason for immigration is commonly referred to as the push-pull theory. It says that
certain factors must be present at both sides in order for immigration to occur. The
factors present at the homeland must push immigrants to leave, and factors present at the
other end must attract immigrants and pull them to a new place. For the Chinese it was the
need to provide for their families that pushed them and the gold and labor that pulled
them.

The Chinese were the first Asians to immigrate to America. Most Chinese immigrated as
sojourners, immigrants who from the beginning intended to return to their homeland. In the
mid 1800's many unskilled Chinese began their journey to the West, particularly
California, arriving in vast numbers just after the discovery of gold in California in
1849. Between 1850 to 1882 more than 300,000 Chinese immigrants, mostly impoverished
peasants crossed the Pacific and headed for America, the promise land. The majority of
Chinese immigrants were from the same region, Canton, which is located in South China.
More than ninety percent of those who left China were male, mainly because of Chinese
social custom, which instructed women to remain at home with their families.

A number of Chinese immigrants were unable to pay for their voyage to America, therefore,
they acquired the help of a work broker in order to immigrate. Just like the African
slaves, the immigrants signed contracts guaranteeing that they would work for a certain
amount of years in exchange for paying their way to America. These arrangements enabled
thousands of Chinese to have a chance at a better life in America. The immigrants under
this contract were known as "coolies," a Hindu word meaning "unskilled laborer. During the
1850's a vast majority of "coolies" chose to immigrate to California. Between 1840 and
1900 about 2.4 million Chinese left their homeland. Many Chinese entered America through
an immigration station at Angel Island in San Francisco Bay.

From Angel Island the majority of Chinese immigrants set out in search of the gold in the
West, which included California, Nevada, and Oregon. This discovery of gold was the main
attraction of Chinese immigrants. It was a factor that set off the voyage to America among
the Chinese. Even though a large percentage of Chinese immigrants became miners, it was a
difficult job for them, because of the hostility from White miners. The White miners
forced the Chinese into working mines that were already picked over and left abandoned.
However, with hard work the Chinese still managed to remove what gold remained from the
mines. Their determination and diligence only seemed to evoke even more hostility from the
Whites amongst the Chinese. The Whites soon frequently and continually harassed and
attacked the Chinese. Resulting from this escalating violence was a series of
discriminatory laws passed by the State of California. It reduced the Chinese to
second-class status and purposely put them under legal penalties that no other group
encountered.

When the Gold Rush ended in 1860, many Chinese immigrants found jobs with the nations
railroad industry. When the Union Pacific Railroad began its construction of its western
part in 1864, thousands of Chinese laborers were hired. It was the Chinese who the Central
Pacific Railroad Company hired to build a railroad over the harsh western land that would
eventually link America's east and west coasts together. The Chinese were extremely hard
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