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Sunday, January 2, 2011

Primary Analysis: Anti-Chinese Riots

Read this article.  Post your response to the following question, or comment on other's responses
How does the article both demonstrate the social tensions and racism of America in the late 19th century as well as the changing workplace and working experience in America at that time?

22 comments:

Yazan said...

i don't get why didn't the Chinese gov't care. If i were the Chinese king/president/ruler i would be outraged. how could residents of some insolent 100 year old country attack citizens of a mighty 3000 year old country? just kidding. but why didn't it at least condemn the US for not prosecuting the murderers. just 20-30 years later, china goes to war with japan for a somewhat similar situation.

cvalenti2 said...

…see more…THE GAME…
Yazan- ChaCha says China was ruled by an emperor until 1912
Social tensions are portrayed in this letter as 'white men' were quick to attack the Chinese who refused to represent themselves in asking for higher wages.
Racism and segregation in America is exemplified when the survivors mention of a 'Whitemen's town' and a 'Chinatown'. The writer claimed all workers were treated “on the same footing” and paid the same wages, but it appears that terms were not so equal as they lived in separate areas. The governments of both America and China were also careless towards Chinese immigrants as no one helped the adroit workers except for President Cleveland and his officers, only after an attack on Chinatown.
The work place and experience changed over time as well. Workers realizing wages were too low and potentially forming a strike to go against this shows that they gained experience over time. {{ I like to think that the ethics of strikes developed from pre-Revolutionary War protests against acts and taxes which was developed from the Native American objections to Conquistadores bringing STDS.} } The workers know what they should earn for their labor or trade and are willing to ask for it. Also, there is no longer a team of servants or slaves bound to farming for life, but now tough labor, 12-hour shifts in factories, and workers constructing transcontinental railroads, thereby, presenting a change in the work performed by Americans.
I wonder why the workers thrashed out against the Chinese so strongly just because they denied helping with asking for higher wages?
Also to answer one of the questions in the article, I don't think the attack against the Chinese was premeditated, I think it was a series of little events, built out of racism, that sparked anger and jealousy in the workforce to strike against the Chinese who appeared to be the biggest threat as they would work for lower wages.

Ross said...

This article clearly outlines the enormous amounts of social and racial tensions in America at this time. For one, white laborers felt it necessary to actually run chinese miners out of town, burn there houses down, and even murder up to 15 of them. It may just be me, but i find it a little desperate to murder someone just because people of the same race as them might work for a slightly lower wage and possibly steal your job. But, desperation is a word that obviously defined this time period for white laborers. I can only imagine how difficult it was to find a job nevertheless keep one with the added competition of recently freed slaves and the influx of Chinese and Irish immigrants. Yet, not only were citizens angry with the immigrants because they were stealing their jobs but also because they thought they wanted to implement their culture in place of American culture. This created a tense relationship between citizens and new immigrants. This article has truly helped me to get a first hand look into the problems and events going on during this time of American history.

Mike said...

To me, I feel that we are extremely racist as a country. We were racist to every different type of immigrant that came over, and even to the Native Americans that were here first. I question why the Chinese didn't want to join the whites for higher wages. I assume it was for the fact that they were treated so poorly and were just happy to be getting a wage at all. As well, like Ross said, they probably didn't want to lose the job they had so graciously been given. I find it extremely wrong that previously before these riots had happened and the Chinese had immigrated to the U.S., they weren't allowed to leave their country at all. This makes sense, as problems such as this can happen, but still, that's like being kept prisoner. Also, it makes me wonder how the Chinese were treated equally as whites on the railroad system, when no other race normally was. Yet after refusing to go on strike if the proposal of higher wages failed, the Chinese were no longer treated with such equality. At least once the riots broke out and slaughtered the Chinese, as well as their homes, the President had the decency to send troops to come to their aid. That was a true sign of wanting them treated equal, but by then, all their hope had been lost.

Diana said...

This article clearly shows the social tensions and racism in the country at that point in time. People in the west created anti-Chinese clubs that harassed many of the Chinese workers and even tried to force them to leave the cities. I agree with Mike and Ross that the Chinese probably did not want to go on strike for higher wages because they did not want to loss the job that they already had. I don't see why white workers needed to kill 28 of the Chinese workers just because they did not fight for higher wages. It makes me wonder why the Chinese government had no input towards this whole situation where tons of Chinese residents were being killed. It also surprised me that the US government allowed all of this to happen. This shows how racist citizens were during the 19th century. The workplace during this time was becoming more industrialized with the start of the transcontinental railroad, thus creating more jobs for immigrants such as the Chinese who build the western pacific part of the transcontinental railroad. Overall, not only were Americans racist to the Chinese they were racist to all immigrants such as the Irish during the 19th century.

mrowl12345 said...

WHATS WITH ALL THIS HATIN ON THE CHINESE!!!!
But in all seriousness this article does show the social tension of racism in america as well as the changing of the american work place. The article tells of several instances in which white americans attacked Chinese immigrants out of hatred or anger.
One such act was the attack against the Chinese at Rocky Springs Wyoming, an event that shows both the social tension of racism in America and the changing of the american workplace. The riot and attack was caused after Chinese workers asked for higher wages. This shows the change in the American work place, new americans requesting higher wages for their labor. The white americans of Rocky Springs instantly responded with a vicious attack with high casualties, and then chased the remaining chinese men out of town. This clearly conveys the social tension and racism in the area, and reflects on views as a nation. In class we mentioned how racism was something that was a common feeling amongst americans and it was not looked down upon. And the fact that the white men's first response is to attack shows the extent to the tension.

jessalves10 said...

I agree with Mike when he said that we're a racist country. Although we were deffinately racist to the chinese, I think that at least very early on, we might have worked in peace with them. I think the reason why we became so mean to the Chinese was because they were getting "our jobs" and refused to go on strike with us. Although I realize that desperate times call for desperate measures, as Americans I think we always choose the desperate measures. It wasn't necessary for us to burn houses down and chase the Chinese into the hills where they were to await for food from the government (I wonder if they ever got that food?). We advocate ourselves and our country as free and accepting to all, but our history says otherwise and even today, we hold some pretty stiff prejudices against others.

amanda said...

This isn't just racism; there are deaths involved.

"The whole number of Chinese killed was twenty-eight and those wounded fifteen..."

People actually took action on their nativist thoughts and feelings causing social tension as Diana had stated above. I agree with Jess that this is all a bit ironic. We supposedly have the reputation of 'freedom' and 'the melting pot' and yet our actions prove otherwise.

And in the last paragraph:

"When it became obvious to the Chinese officials that none of the guilty parties would be punished, the Chinese minister in Washington pressed the United States government to make reparations. The U.S. government did not accept legal liability for the Chinese losses, but President Cleveland, in a gesture of generosity, requested Congress to pay compensation to the surviving Chinese. Finally, in February 1887, Congress passed a bill authorizing payment to the Chinese"
I just can’t seem to grasp the concept or idea portrayed here. Is the money supposed to make up for the loss lives? Why was this money considered generosity when so many were killed? Was the minister okay with Cleveland's solution. This paragraph brings up so many questions and yet the article just ends.


p.s. since when do we have a pagsapush twitter?

jennaaxrae18 said...

Previously mentioned above, I do also believe that we were once a very racist country. It's rather sad that Americans would treat immigrants that way, when ironically, they were immigrants themselves at one time. I mean, it's understandable for American citizens to believe and agree with how the Chinese were portrayed in propaganda, like what you showed us in class, but simple morals and ethics should have defeated racism. Only in a perfect world. Evidently, the Chinese saw America as a land of opportunity, but the mistreatment of them didn't appear to be very welcoming. Working experience in America was effected by this because of white men's fear of Chinese people taking their jobs, and I agree with Diana when she says, "I don't see why white workers needed to kill 28 of the Chinese workers just because they did not fight for higher wages." It doesn't make sense. Regarding government involvement, I agree with the way Mike noticed that the President was decent enough to send help to those being attacked. Racism was at a peak during this time and the articles very clearly display this. -Jenna Ryan

michellepleban said...

I think everyone pretty much covered how this article demonstrated the social tensions and racism of America in the 19th century. The Chinese didn't want to strike for higher wages so white miners attacked them. If the Chinese didn't strike and the other men did, they would be able to take their jobs. Tensions were high because Americans wanted well paid, steady jobs and other races were preventing them from achieving that. I agree with Mike's question that why didn't the Chinese just strike? They were probably going to win and get higher wages, and it would prevent all the fighting and murders from happening. This article even showed how the tension affected the government. Chinese officials wanted reparations from the government but they refused to make them. Only because of President Cleveland were there any compensation to the surving Chinese workers. It probably wouldn't always work out that easily because what if the president refused to make reparations too? Then more tension would be created.
I think the article demonstrated a change in the workplace because it shows that the men lived together (with their race) in groups, especially the Chinese men. It reminds me of something we read last year where this guy built a town for his workers, providing them a place to live. This article seems like it is the first instance of the idea of men who work together live near each other too, which is more efficient for companies

mike51095 said...

I find it very strange why people would go through all the trouble of forming those ant-Chinese clubs just because they didn't like the Chinese. Part of the reason there were so many Chinese immigrants coming to America could have been because of these ant-Chinese clubs because they boycotted Chinese produce goods which would cause Chinese workers to lose their jobs and therefore, immigrate to America in search of a new job. Overall, these clubs probably had a negative effect on stopping Chinese immigration than a positive one. It seems so horrible today why white miners would massacre Chinese workers just because they didn't go on strike with them but to the American public this probably didn't seem like such a big deal. I can definitely understand why the Chinese didn't want to go on strike because as it was they were already making a lot more money than they were when they were living in China. The Chinese government probably lost a lot of respect by its people because they did not take any action in this matter. –Mike Signore

Krista said...

I found the hatred towards the Chinese and the boycott of Chinese made goods ironic because today our economic success depends on our trade with China and all of the products we use that are made there. Looking at all of the racism towards the Chinese makes me think that since the African Americans were freed some nativists felt that they needed to ensure that some race was always below them and that's why they turned to the Chinese. I agree with how everyone above described the tension during this time period and how desperate times call for desperate measures, but the Americans took it too far, like Jess said. I also agree with Jenna when she said, "it's understandable for American citizens to believe and agree with how the Chinese were portrayed in propaganda, like what you showed us in class, but simple morals and ethics should have defeated racism." Why couldn't people realize that killing 28 other humans over something as stupid as not wanting to go on strike is simply unmoral and disgusting. Although the President gave the Chinese men money that could not bring back those lost so he should have gone after the nativists responsible and fought for justice.

matthew said...

This article demonstrates both social tensions and racism because miners were on strike trying to get higher wages for their work, which is a social tension. If their demands were not answered then conflict would have arose which is exactly what happened. They wanted the Chinese to go on strike with them, but when they refused, the whites anger turned to the Chinese. The whites attacked the Chinese population, which is a very racist act.
This also demonstrates the changing workplace because the Chinese were happy with lower wages since they desperately needed jobs, therefore they filled all the lower paying jobs. Since they whites demanded higher wages they had to look otherwise for jobs.

C.Slotter said...

This article shows the tensions between Chinese and white miners in the 19th century. The white miners wanted the Chinese to go on strike for better wages with them, and when the Chinese refused, the whites reacted violently, killing 15 of them and burning their homes. While I understand why the whites were angry (by not going on strike, the Chinese made the striking white miners look bad) they definitely did not have to go to that extreme. I can also understand why the Chinese decided not to go on strike - if they had, they could have lost their jobs. This reflects the growing change in the American workplace because it shows how labor unions were beginning to emerge and how there was more competition for jobs. Social racism also increased during this time period, as white miners acted cruelly to the Chinese, who threatened to take their jobs.
At first I did not understand why the Chinese government did not take action when the Chinese were brutally murdered. However, I think it was because the Chinese had chosen to leave China, so CHina no longer had the responsibility of taking care of them.

Caitlin said...

I agree with krista when she said how the American people probably wanted to keep some kind of race below them since African Americans were now citizens. This article clearly shows the tensions between American citizens and the newly immigrated Chinese. The fact that white men lashed out and killed all of those Chinese people who would not go on strike proves just how delicate the balance was between them. A simple situation like that set the white men off so easily. I can understand why the Chinese did not want to risk their jobs and go on strike because it was difficult enough for them to get jobs, but at the same time it could have made their lives so much easier. Like Michelle said, the workers probably would have won and then all of those Chinese men wouldn't have been killed. The racism in the country would most likely have continued anyway I suppose but maybe it wouldn't have been set off so violently. All in all, we were a very fascist country like many others have already stated.

Jeanette said...

It’s really sad how the Chinese came to America in search of a better life and to live the “America Dream”, but they are greeted with shotguns and scorn from the angry mobs. I like the point Jenna made about the irony that the Americans were immigrants at one time as well. It’s weird how anyone who was in “their” country got stepped on, even the Indians that proceeded them and the African Americans that kept their economy from failing; all the immigrants do is help them become a more prosperous country. The article demonstrates the racism that America had because they set fire to Chinese immigrants’ houses, and even went as far as killing them all because of the fact that they didn’t want to go on strike. If this was a group of Americans that didn’t want to go through with the strike, I believe they wouldn’t have reacted as harshly. The article demonstrates the changing workplace at the time because more and more immigrants began working in America then. Different people had different views of things, like how the Chinese had a different idea in the situation than the rest. The situation also changed the way Americans looked at the immigrants, and turned them against each other for the time being.

BigBri said...

I never really understood why people think they are better then someone else. Any part in history you see one race seem superior to another, why is it not the other way around. Why arent the Chinese stronger than the whites. It just makes no sense to me, and i dont think it will ever be answered.
How could we be so cruel to the Chinese, and make these clubs that basically bullied the Chinese, trying to make them leave. And they wanted to be here, and come and live the American Dream.
Whoever started racism should have been sentenced to death the minute he/she thought they were better than someone else, so they were cruel to them.

smurftastic44 said...

Before I say anything else, just know that I haven't read half of the comments so if I repeat something, I'm sorry!
I agree with Jess, our country has always been extremely prejudiced, and not only about races, but other issues such as gay rights are involved (like how some people use the word 'gay' as a negative slang word). And since we always brag about how we are accepting of all people, it makes me wonder if there are other countries that are worse about prejudice.
That being said, the attacks on the Chinese workers were very horrifying and the lack of support from the Chinese government was surprising and disappointing, especially since the immigrants were still so loyal to their homeland and culture. It seems as if American government supports it's citizens who find themselves in unfortunate situations, like the reporter who was unjustly imprisoned in North Korea for several years (at least I believe it was, please correct me if you know which event I'm talking about). The fact that the Chinese government didn't lend a helping hand to the people who were just trying to find a better life in America - people that they encouraged to leave - showed how neglectful the country was.
And as for the riots, it's was one of the worst displays of nativism in America so far. In my mind, I see nativism as a euphemism for racism. The belief that only people who descend from 'Native' Americans (which is another way of saying white men, not including the Irish who were called Black-Irish) should be accepted into the country is racism. This sort of hate is still going on, only this time it involves people of Middle Eastern decent. History truly repeats itself, only with minor changes each time. In the 1800's, people simply didn't know enough about the world to realize that stereotyping never works. In modern times, people are still ignorant, even though our world has become so much more connected with the development of technology. Since ignorance breeds prejudice, we see racism all the time. It's reading about events like the anti-Chinese riots that make me wonder why we never learn, why we keep repeating this terrible, endless cycle.
I guess more people should pay attention in history class, maybe then ignorance will begin to fade.

P.S. sorry if I got off track, I was just kinda going with what I was thinking.

smurftastic44 said...

It looks like you have some competition, Sarah!

Becky said...

The tensions were extremely high between Chinese immigrants and white laborers at this time. The racism came from fear that all jobs would be taking. The nativism was only a natural response to the unknown. This was taken to far when the Chinese minors were killed. The quote Amanda said showed that a boilig point was reached and fear and anger over came rational thought and action. The Chinese did have the right not to strike, but this was a time of economic troubles and complete change of the workforce. Now immigrants were starting to work for cheaper this changed the dynamic of being paid equally for equal work. Its like that cartoon we saw in class that showed may Chinese people living in poverty and a more well of white family saying that's why they needed to be paid more. This was racist, but people didn't know better then. To suggest racism is even close to that today is outrageous. There are racist people and groups, but nothing like a massacre of 20 people in one race would ever happen today and in a case of an act of terrorism it is an isolated group of extremist with skewed views. I'm not suggesting the racism then was ok, but change scares everyone and the work force was changing dramatically...

C said...

We all put a tremendous effort into this. Some responses I think we should reread: Diana's, Jenna's, Amanda's, both Mikes', and Becky's...

The points they made correspond with all of the responses. However, I think that they all had some pretty unique thoughts to add to this discussion.

Sukhmeet said...

This article shows the racism that was going on with the chinese. It hurts me to know that this country treated the chinese in this manner. The chinese never did anything wrong, so we just randomly decide to make their lives harsh, and boss them around. The social tension was that white workers wanted higher wages,and wanted the chinese to be by their side. When the chinese refused, whites started riots, and killing innocent chinese families. What i don't get is that whenever the chinese wanted something, they couldn't get it because of the racism that was going on, so how could whites expect to be respected by the chinese.