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8.8.9 Celestial empire in California. Miners [upper] Gamblers [lower]

Includes two vignettes depicting Chinese miners and gamblers.
Britton & Rey
circa 1850-1870

"Celestial empire in California. Miners [upper] Gamblers [lower]." Photograph. California Historical Society, California Lettersheet Collection, Kemble Spec Col 09.

The Gold Rush brought as many as 24,000 Chinese immigrants to California. Seeking better opportunities, many came to escape extreme poverty in China. They set up claims in the gold mining towns that were often abandoned by white miners. Wealthy gold mining industrialists liked to employ them because they could exploit their labor, paying them less than white workers. Chinese immigrants faced harsh discrimination and ridicule. In 1850 the California government passed the Foreign Miner’s Tax, making it difficult for them to succeed in this industry. Working-class whites resented them at times, and violent mob attacks in the mines were frequent. In the cities they were depicted as “coolies,” or those who work for cheap. The majority of Chinese immigrants lived in San Francisco, where they built a vibrant Chinatown that included many kinds of businesses. They formed political and cultural organizations and became part of the fabric of the city. Yet the majority of working-class whites were discontent, and politicians, wanting to score points, passed laws that sought to harass the Chinese. Despite the obstacles, they survived and in some cases prospered. What are the differences and similarities between the immigration debate in the 1850s and today? What about this source describes the view of Chinese immigrants in California?
This source is a great way to discuss the industriousness of Chinese immigrants to California during the Gold Rush. It also reveals the xenophobia leveled against the Chinese. The discussion should include the views of Anglo Americans and the reality of the Chinese community. This is an early example of the scapegoating of foreign workers. The Americanization of the Chinese, the adaptation to the U.S economy, and the protection of Chinese cultural values should be discussed in tandem. Four major Chinese district associations formed in San Francisco in the 1850s before the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association formed in 1882. How does this image depict Chinese stereotypes? What does the creation of Chinatowns and Chinese associations say about the multicultural fabric of the United States?

Celestial Empire in California.



Lith. & Published By BRITTON & REY.
Corn. Mont.y & Co1 Sts. San Francisco.