«Journals: Immigration» - Free Essay Paper

Journals: Immigration

Susan Lee Johnson Roaring Camp. The Social World of the California Gold Rush

Susan Johnson discusses the ways mining camps and the Gold Rush in California had influenced the society and forced the changes that started in 1852. The first big change was the consolidation of Anglo-American dominance, which was established through Chilean War, the Mariposa War (Johnson 239). The second change was the decline of rich placer diggings, which made people search for new ways of earning (Johnson 239). The author states that many immigrants from China arrived to California in 1848, searching for gold and by the end of 1850-ies Chinese immigrants constituted around one-fifth of the population of the four countries that constituted the Southern Mines. Immigrants have faced problems like a foreign miner’s tax and suffered the indignities from other Gold Rush participants caused by the dominance of the Anglo-Americans. Most of the Chinese arrived when the white men were abandoning the placer claims, believing that no more gold can be found (Johnson 243).

The methods which Chinese immigrants used still gave them some possibilities of mining the gold, therefore, the white miners tried to prevent them from working at those mines and the expulsion of the immigrants seemed as the best solution to them (Johnson 246). This caused the designing of resolutions at the Sothern Mines, like the one in Columbia, which assured that no Asiatic or South Sea Islander would work in local mines and also brought the anti-Chinese agitation (Johnson 246). The author also discusses how John C. Fremont, the major landowner and the nationally acclaimed explorer, after discovering a gold-studded quartz vein about five miles in length in the lands of Las Mariposas, fought for the title for appropriation of that land, which made the Mexican miners unable to work in those mines and ended with taking Fremont’s workers hostage by the Mexicans, who wanted to work there too (Johnson 273). The author emphasizes that the monopoly for working in mines of the whites unfairly limited the opportunities of other participants of the Gold Rush in Sothern Mines, like Mexicans, Chileans and Chinese, to work and earn some money.

Robert G. Lee Orientals. Asian Americans in Popular Culture

Robert Lee discusses how the problems of immigration during the Gold Rush in California are pictured in the folk music of that time. In 1850-ies there existed a popular image of California as a community of independent producers and miners (Lee 15). This caused the arrival of the great number of immigrants from China and, in its turn, was reflected in a song California As It Was and Is. The lines “if only Uncle Sam had stopped the coming of Chinese” show that the song was aimed to create the group solidarity of the white and to bring the ideology of nostalgia for the times before the arrival of the Chinese, which were better (Lee 17).

The race debate in California, which has emerged from the questions of the Negro slavery and free labor by the end of the 1850-ies has shifted to the so called “Chinese Problem” (Lee 47). For the local white population, the 47,000 of the Chinese immigrants seemed to be a great threat. The greed of the white miners was great and the thought that the Chinese, who primarily worked at the abandoned claims, where they had the opportunity to earn at least some small profit from those mines and somehow survive on that profit, leading to great disturbance among them (Lee 48). In 1851, the white miners created the resolution to prohibit the Chinese to work in the region of the Yuba River and later in the 1870-ies the population of California demanded to forbid the entrance to the country for the Chinese and remove them from the working places (Lee 49). Robert Lee emphasizes on the racist behaviors of people of that time by citing the lines of a popular song The Days of ‘49, which delivers the idea that before the arrival of the Chinese immigrants, everything was right in the country because all the boys were white, calling the “Chinese question” the worst (Lee 50).

Vicente L. Rafael White Love and Other Events in the Filipino History

Vicente Rafael discusses how the photographic images limited the views of Americans on the Philippines and its residents after 1898. The author states that the camera, like the gun, was the technology of the subjugation and the photographs were presented by the Americans as the trophies gained in a conquest (Rafal 77). The so called ethnographic photographs were used to create the distinct types of the natives and to classify them according to the ethno-racial differences. The system was mainly based on the idea of distance of the local population from the norms of the Anglo-Saxon civility, which only emphasizes on the racist nature of the colonists, which is absolutely unacceptable (Rafael 78). Also, the ethnographic photos registered the circulation of gifts to the local communities brought by the colonists – there were pictures of savages who turned into soldiers, prisoners turned into obedient citizens and lazy natives turned into laborers, all of those served as a great source of spreading the ideology of colonists (Rafael 83).

There were also many photos taken during the Filipino-American War of 1899-1902, showing the corpses of the Filipinos, who were killed in fights. Such photos were popular among colonial officers. The author believes that these pictures were used to show the lesser skills of the Filipino fighters and prove the courage of the Americans, as well as to demonstrate the mastery of the U.S. army over death (Rafael 89), which in its place made it impossible to see the truth of the history and to understand what were the real circumstances of the events of the past (Rafael 91). In addition, the Filipinos who survived the war, mostly used photography to take their own portraits and were used as the signs of affection among friends and family, as the proof or memory of loved ones (Rafael 92-93). As a contrast to the ways the colonists used photography – to deliver some ideology and show its political domination, the Filipinos took the pictures which served as a source to revive their national identity. Since all of them are very subjective, the pictures are indeterminate and represent the anti-ethnology, thus they can show who the Filipinos really were (Rafael 99).

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Don and Nadine Hata Gearge Shima: “The Potato King of California”

George Shima was born in 1864 in Kurume. He has changed his name from Kinji Ushijima after he has immigrated to the United States. This man is a great example of turning into the reality the true classic concept of the American dream (Don and Nadine Hata 55). After the promulgation of the Charter Oath, many Japanese began immigrating as contract laborers on the sugar plantations in Hawaii, but young Shima, analyzing the reports of the experiences of those people who understood well that the opportunities were very limited (Don and Nadine Hata 56). Instead, he started studying Japanese and Chinese classics in both public and private schools and later Shima decided to go to America to study English. He arrived to San Francisco in 1889 and got his first job as a domestic servant, where he learned about the fluency in English and also about its great importance in interacting with Americans (Don and Nadine Hata 56).

After moving from the farm worker to labor contractor, Shima has noticed that large areas of lands near the delta of Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers are not used by the whites due to periodic flooding, and, of course, that land was cheap. Thus, Shima and his former students decided to start a 15-acre farm, first growing beans and later moving to potatoes (Don and Nadine Hata 56). By 1899, the farmers owned around 400 acres on Bradford Island and by 1900 Shima managed to find non-Japanese sources, like Fleischacker, who had the financial interest to invest in the construction of dikes around flooded islands (Don and Nadine Hata 57). His holdings included 1,000 acres under his name and 2,000 acres of joint tenantship with the Rindge farm holdings. By 1909, Shima was known as the “Potato King” of California, his capital at that time constituted around two million dollars (Don and Nadine Hata 60). By 1909, when the anti-Japanese movement has reached its climax, Shima lost all his respect to the community. In 1911, 27 anti-Japanese bills were created, which particularly forbid the immigrants to own land. At that time, Asians were depicted as a danger to American businesses. Many believed that Asian people took away the opportunities of the whites, which later caused the forced evacuation of all Japanese Americans. Only in 1982, Shima was acknowledged as “a man who does”, as a man, who has shown the Americans how to make the American dream come true.

Erika Lee At America’s Gates

Chinese immigrants started arriving to the United States in great numbers after the discovery of gold in California in 1848. In the period from 1870 to 1880, around 140,,000 immigrants entered the country, which made 4% of the total number of immigrants from other states (Lee 25). The fears of the local population about the future of race, class and gender relations, together with the great growth of the population and economic dislocation of California, started the early anti-Chinese sentiment (Lee 25). Later the ideas that the Chinese are “permanently alien” to America and that they are unable to assimilate into American life and citizenship began to spread further. For example, in 1876, Asian immigrants were perceived as the ones, who started the “unwelcome invasion” (Lee 29). Thus, to prevent these threats, it was decided that legal barriers had to be established to protect the Americans from the Chinese (Lee 29).

By the first half of the 20th century, The Immigration Restriction League asked the senators across the country to identify the classes of persons, who were desired and not desired in their state (Lee 36). On the top of the list of the “desired” were the native born Americans, the second were people from northern Europe, than the specific groups of British followed, Scandinavians and Germans, and the last on the list – the unwanted – were Asians and eastern Europeans, who were considered as excludable immigrants (Lee 36). A strong desire of the Americans to stop the flow of Chinese immigrants was embodied in the Chinese Exclusion Act and a number of other legislations which demanded the exclusion of all Chinese laborers. Except teachers, students and merchants, there were also those, who insisted on the exclusion of all Chinese, except for the diplomatic officials (Lee 45). In 1901, the Chinese Exclusion Convention brought together 2,500 anti-Chinese delegated, who wanted to “prevent the threatened invasion of Mongol hordes and to stop the degradation of American labor” (Lee 45). The Immigration Act of 1917 demanded a literacy test for all adult immigrants, which also denied entry to all people from the “Asiatic Barred Zone” and excluded all immigrants from India, Burma, Siam, Arabia, Afghanistan and the major part of the Polynesian Islands (Lee 39). The Immigration Acts of 1921 and 1924 made the exclusion of all Asians possible, except for the Filipinos, who were excluded later in 1934 (Lee 39). The Chinese Exclusion Act remained in effect until it was cancelled in 1943 (Lee 46).

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Mae M. Ngai Impossible Subjects. Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America

In 1924, an immigration act, which was based on John Trevor’s idea of quotas based on the national origins, was presented by the Congress. It reduced the immigration to 155,000 a year, established temporary quotas that were based on 2% of the foreign-born population in 1890 and excluded from immigration all people, who were ineligible to citizenship, in other words, it prohibited the Japanese to enter the country and placed numerical restrictions on immigration from the states of the Western hemisphere (Ngai 23). This act shows that law helped the white Protestant Americans to spread their prejudices and to keep the social and political dominance. The national origins quota system has emerged from the conviction that the American nation was a white nation and had to remain such (Ngai 27).

During the 1890-ies, Francis Walker, analyzing the census data, had developed a theory that immigration held back the birthrate of Americans, since the immigrants displaced native-born Americans from their working places, thus the Americans adapted to the limited job opportunities by having fewer children (Ngai 30). This formed the idea that immigration prevents the increase of natural population, which, in its place, created the concept that nation owns a natural character, to which immigrants are external (Ngai 30). This theory was the basis for the claim that immigration carries a threat to overwhelm the American nation (Ngai 31). Thus, the legal definition of “white” and the rule of unassimilability have emerged from this racial ideology (Ngai 37). Racial doctrine in citizenship law remained until it was abolished in 1952 (Ngai 38). Japanese, who wanted to become yeoman farmers in California, were rejected of such opportunity, since they were accused in the desire to take away the land from white people (Ngai 39). In 1929, the restrictions to enter the United States have spread on Mexicans too. In 1930, only 11,023 visas were granted, as compared to the previous years, when the average rate of immigration was 58,747; the immigration decreased by 76%, which made Mexicans racialized aliens in the United States (Ngai 55). 

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