Exclusion of Chinese Americans in History

The years between 1850 and 1880 marked a huge difference in the way Chinese immigrants were treated in California.Numerous economic transformations occurred during these years, changing the way white Californians, specifically Nativists, felt towards the Chinese.This was the beginning of what became a history of exclusion of Chinese immigrants in California that had many long-term consequences for the Chinese.
Starting in the 1850's Chinese immigrants came to California in large numbers.They were not so much accepted as tolerated, treated as mysterious foreigners, an "Oriental", rather than a threat.But by the 1870's, with the depression of 1873 and the rise of mechanization, Nativists and other working-class whites began to view the Chinese as a serious threat to their economic stability.
By the 1870's, capitalists were attempting to rationalize and reduce the cost of production (Lee 54).These same capitalists began to view immigrants as a good, relatively free source of labor.With mechanization came the ability to train almost anyone, immigrants, women and children, on the use of these machines.This took power away from the white man.These white men became increasingly threatened by immigrant labor, specifically the Chinese.While it is true that he Irish were also used as unskilled laborers, by their very "whiteness", they were not viewed as the same threat as the "brown-skinned" Chinese.The use of the Irish and Italian, as well as the Chinese immigrants as strikebreakers became commonplace in the 1870's (Lee 55).Even though the Irish and Italians were used, once again the Chinese became the focus of the anti-immigrant sentiment.Many of these white laborers, having already left the Eastern United States due to the advent of mechanization, turned to the idea of Nativism as a result of the threat of the Chinese immigrants.In 1870, Senator Cowan warned…

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