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7.1.6 The Golden Hills News

The front page of the May 27, 1854 edition of the Golden Hills News featuring both Cantonese language characters and one column of English text. Publisher's welcome note in English: "Merchants, Manufacturers, Miners, and Agriculturists, come forward as friends, not scorners of the Chinese, so that they may mingle in the march of the world, and help to open America an endless vista of future commerce."
Golden Hills News
1854 May 27

The Golden Hills News. May 27, 1854. California Historical Society, Chinese in California Virtual Collection, Newspaper Collection, Box 2.

We do not know what happened to the Chinese tailor Awye after his contract expired, but if he stayed near San Francisco, he probably read this newspaper. The Golden Hills News was founded in 1854 in San Francisco and became the first newspaper to be published in a Chinese language (Cantonese) in California and the United States. Chinese immigrants who came to California for work disembarked in San Francisco, and many thousands of them settled there, creating a vibrant community that eventually became San Francisco’s famous Chinatown, the oldest in North America and the largest Chinese settlement outside Asia. It had a Buddhist temple and many shops that sold Chinese food and products. At sites of encounter, people from different cultures form communities and set up their own churches, shops, and places to socialize. Other people in San Francisco learned about Chinese languages, religions, and writing from visiting the Chinese neighborhoods. Why do you think they made the title of this newspaper the Golden Hills News?

Not many Chinese came in the first two years of the Gold Rush, but after the outbreak of a civil war in China in 1851, many came to California in search of gold. By 1852 there were about 25,000 Chinese migrants living in California, concentrated in San Francisco and the mining districts. Many of them traveled under a “credit-ticket” system, which entailed a low-wage contract to work for already established Chinese miners in return for free passage to San Francisco. The Golden Hills News was the first Chinese newspaper in the United States. It was founded in 1854 in San Francisco by Protestant missionaries and was printed in both Cantonese and English. The newspaper printed in a Chinese language is a sign of a large and vibrant community that was established in San Francisco very early in the history of American California.

English translation of Chinese newspaper text:

[Front page, Purpose of the Newspaper]
The purpose of publishing a newspaper is to promote commerce, provide knowledge, convey public sentiments, and communicate government regulations. Now, California is the meeting place of people from all over the world, and various countries have published their own newspapers except the Chinese. Therefore, although there are many Chinese merchants, they lack the skills to run their businesses, have limited general knowledge, and are powerless to make decisions. They do not fully understand business conditions, and are easily manipulated by tricksters; they are ignorant of government regulations, and are bullied by those with evil intensions. It is a pity that they, despite having years of experience, are struggling in their business and facing so many obstacles. This has prompted me to start this Golden Hills’ News, and use the Chinese language to describe daily happenings about Chinese and American business and government and legal affairs. It will be published every Saturday, so that people will know what is going on. If you have business news, we can advertise it here. That way, business will flourish, knowledge will expand, public sentiments will be felt, and government regulations will be understood; and to the Chinese this is by no means a small benefit.

- Mr. Howard

In San Francisco some Americans have built a new church. Many Chinese have also made donations. Now that construction is completed, it will start preaching sermons on the 10th day of the 5th moon, Chinese calendar, at one o’clock. The following Sunday, at one o’clock and also at half past seven at night, there will be Bible studies. The middle level will be the chapel for worshipping God. The third level and downstairs will be used for libraries. Starting the 11th day of the 5th moon, the church will teach how to read and speak English, covering all subject matters. These classes are open to all Chinese; that’s why we give advance notice now. Please come to the church at that time. To get there just go up Sacramento Street. It is across the street from the old Siyi Huiguan.

The United States has sent ships to Japan to negotiate with their emperor. The goal is to form an alliance of mutual trust with everlasting peace between the two nations.

In the middle of this past April an American cargo ship named Ladybugs* set sail from San Francisco to Japan on a trade mission, carrying several thousand gold coins and miscellaneous merchandise.

After Russia prepared to attack Turkey, England and France tried to mediate for peace. Russia refused the overtures and made enemies of them. Now England and France have joined forces to attack Russia. England has about 40 war ships and more than 20,000 troops. France has sent 20,000 soldiers. It’s too early to tell who will emerge victorious.

In Louisiana, there was a member of the Jewish religion who was very wealthy. When he died he bequeathed his life savings to build a large home for the sick and the poor. Those who were widowed, orphaned, or abandoned in Boston were given funds so they would not be destitute. Synagogues in Boston, Hartford, Charleston, and Savanna were each given $5,000. He also donated $50,000 to help the finances of the Jewish religion. With someone like this, how can we say that there is no philanthropist among barbarians?

[Back Page]
Last Saturday a Chinese was arrested by police for murder in Grass Valley. He is now in jail awaiting trial.

Recently heard that two men from France and Mexico violated some city ordinances and are now awaiting trial at City Hall.

Recently heard in Russian Mine a man named Matthew Calliston was buried alive while digging gold inside a mine.

Recently heard the Nevada Mine and Coloma Mine are crowded with gold diggers. Nevada is in the north and Coloma is in the south.

Recently heard the rebellious bandit Hong Xiuquan and his followers in China were raping women and pillaging villages. This caused great anger among the people and government officials and they banded together to fight. The Hong Xiuquan bandits were defeated in dozens of battles and 50 to 60 percent of their men suffered casualties or deserted. They have reportedly retreated to south of Yangzi River now.

Recently heard Sonora has expelled all prostitutes.

Food prices:
Coffee: 18¢ per pound
Fine salted pork: $27/per large barrel
Medium salted pork: $22, $23 per barrel
Fine salted beef: $18, $20 per large barrel
Medium salted beef: $20 per barrel
Fine ham: 20¢ per pound
Fine bacon: 15¢, 16¢ per pound
Manilla fine sugar: 7¢, 8¢ per pound
Lard: 15¢, 16¢ per pound
Fine Chinese sugar: 9¢ per pound
Second-rate Chinese sugar: 8¢ per pound
Fine black tea: 50¢, 55¢ per pound
American fine sugar: 12.5¢ per pound
Chinese rice: 5¢, 6¢, 6.25¢ per pound
Carolina Rice: 6¢ per pound
Manilla rice: 3¢, 3.5¢ per pound

Bokee, Titcomb’s Auction House is located at 61 – 63 California Street, second house at the corner of Front Street. They hold auctions of Chinese and American goods every Tuesday and Friday.

The Flower Flag Country [nickname of the United States] originally belonged to England. Due to abundant resources and wealth it later warred with England and scored a big victory, and became an independent country. Now there is maritime commerce at every port. It follows the rule that when issues arise that they be resolved based on public opinions. It chooses a president from among the people every four years. The man who currently holds this post is named Franklin [Pierce]. He lives in a place called Washington. Washington originally is the name of a general. The people wanted to commemorate his great deeds, so they named a city after him. This reflects the love people had for him.

In this city, barbarians of different nationalities bully the Chinese too much. From now on, if a Chinese is harassed, beaten, or cheated, he can report it to Mr. Howard so an English notice can be translated and sent to all countries. Chinese do not have to suffer mistreatments in silence. Mr. Howard is located at 163 Clay Street, upstairs.

This Golden Hills’ News is published in one sheet every week. It’s for sale in all American bookstores in town. Each sheet costs 25 cents. For those businesses that wish to subscribe, cost is 75 cents a month, payable twice a month. If you have news or have goods to sell, you can advertise on this paper. Each word costs three cents – Howard.

People from different countries who come to America and wish to become Americans can first go to court and take an oath. The court will issue a paper which can be renewed every two years. With that they can go to the hills to dig gold and do other things without having to pay for a license. If you wish to learn more, please visit Mr. Howard upstairs for a more detailed discussion.

On the 23rd, Western calendar, Mischief, a 3-masted ship, was cleared to sail to Whampoa.

On the 23rd, Western calendar, Senator, a 3-masted ship, was cleared to sail to Hong Kong.

On the 23rd, Western calendar, Jacoba Cornelia, a 2.5-masted ship captained by Ludwyks, was cleared to sail to Hong Kong. This ship is a “yellow-flagged” ship owned by Gildemeester, de Fremery & Co.

On the 25th, Western calendar, Wednesday, Isabella Hargas, a 3-masted ship captained by Robinson, was cleared to sail to China.

On the 25th, Western calendar, Friday, Monsoon, a 3-masted ship captained by Willet, was cleared to sail to Hong Kong. This ship is owned by B. F. Moses.

The Sacramento government office reported an expenditure of over $1,302,500 last year.

Recently heard a government official of this city named Baker is going to resign soon. Another person will be appointed to replace him.

Note *
All names translated from Chinese to English are transliteration and may bear no resemblance to the original English names.

Translation of Chinese text provided by Roland Hui.

Transcription of English newspaper text:

The gold Hills’ News.
SAN FRANCISCO, Saturday May 27, 1854
The people of San Francisco are a great people – great in the rapidity of their growth, great the aspect of enterprise and determination, which their cities, villages and Institutions present, and in the original characteristics of their inhabitants. They are great by origin-they have no origin-they are sui generis-they are a comminglement on Liberty, which fuses all into oneness. They are great by their love of freedom. They hold no seven by nine creed, which, like that of some of the Press, would cry privilege for themselves and despotism for others. They are great in their “Constitution,” which declares, that all men are free and equal. The people and escutcheon of California are [a] thing to rejoice over-they are DEMOCRACY.
But the California picture is unique-their tout ensemble is the history of Civilization. The “Eastern States” have their Irish exodus, their German exodus, and hordes of Saxons, Danes, Celts, Gauls and Scandinavians, but we have all these, and the most wonderful of all a CHINESE EXODUS! The great wonder of the century is the astonishing flight of the hitherto immobile Chinamen across the Pacific ocean, to seek refuge and liberty in the bosom of “The Golden Hills.” It actually tickles the fancy to even think of Chinamen quitting the celestial empire-the paradise of earth-the garden of green Hysoo-the Flowery Land, beyond which was supposed to lay outer darkness, and to come and [m]ingle in the search for yellow gold, instead of remaining at home to fight and struggle for the “yellow robes of office.”
Yes, John Chinamen disregarding the threats of the bastinado, and the tortures said to await his return to the “Flowery abode,” for having forsaken the habits of his forefathers, joins the tide of Progress, and the Rubicon once passed, where shall his exodus end? The days of Chinese exclusion, small feet, and stand-still-ism, are ending-Chinese are no longer rare avis in terris-to see them is no longer to see “the Elephant.” They are fast assisting to colonize California and various islands in Polynesia.
Statistics show that the principle emigration of the Chinese is from the Canton river, and the rising port of Shanghai. The reverends Charles Taylor and M.P. Yates, both Missionaries at Shanghai, say that the latter port is thrown open, without restriction, to the Foreigner, that Americans wander unmolested 40 miles into the Interior, and that the Natives instead of calling Americans “outside barbarians,” look up to them with profound respect. No Chinamen sneers at you in the streets; there is no [illegible] whatever to your study of [illegible] character and [illegible]; they always look at you with an expression of good will,” says Rayard Taylor. Is it too much to ask of a Christian population “to do unto them,” at least, what it seems “they do to us,” is their own land! Is it too much to ask of the Cosmopolitan state, in the veins of whose population flows the blood of a thousand tribes, to give freedom of growth and dair play to the Mongol element! Is it too much to ask of a Commercial People to give a generous aid and liberal encouragement to any means, that assist the Chinese to a knowledge of our laws and habits, and a sympathy with our Interests! Surely not. Therefore Merchants, Manufacturers, Miners and Agriculturists, come forward as friends, not scorners of the Chinese, so that they may mingle in the march of the world, and help t open for America an endless vista of future commerce.

Published by HOWARD & HUDSON,
165 Clay St. betw. Montgomery & Kearney
Printed by F. KCHI.